Middle-class Mannequins: The Representation of Middle-class Taste in the Fashion Website Lookbook.nu

ABSTRACT

The emergence of fashion websites introduces an interest in examining how these new media can shape and reflect the fashion preferences of their users. This thesis aims to analyze how the brand selection of Lookbook.nu leaders represents the taste of the middle class using the framework of Pierre Bourdieu on class and taste.

Lookbook.nu is the self-proclaimed “largest online community dedicated to showcasing member-uploaded ‘street style’ photography” (“Lookbook.nu Frequently Asked Questions,” n.d.). The website has allowed ‘ordinary’ individuals to create user-generated fashion content. The most popular and reputable individuals in the website are called ‘leaders’. The study used leaders M’c Kenneth Licon, Adam Gallagher, Mohcine Aoki, Rachel-Marie Jones, Lina Tesch and Luanna Perez-Garreaud as case studies and compared samples of their Lookbook.nu looks with online campaigns of famous brands, namely Zara, H&M, Topman, Topshop, Mango and Burberry.

The middle-class taste, as represented by the leaders, bears little difference to the online campaigns of the aforementioned brands. These Lookbook.nu leaders have the economic and cultural capital to exert some influence in Lookbook.nu. Their brand selection and styling, however, only reinforce the hierarchy of society and are subject to the conditioning of capitalist fashion companies. These companies, with even greater economic and cultural capital, still remain dominant. In this sense, Lookbook.nu serves as a cultural intermediary between the producers, the fashion companies, and the consumers, the middle class. Despite this, the leaders present the possibility of deviation by attempting to inject their own individuality in their personal styling.

Keywords: Lookbook.nu, class, taste, fashion, new media

Pablo, J.L. (2013). Middle-class Mannequins: The Representation of the Middle-class Taste in the Fashion Website Lookbook.nu, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication

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