The fashion industry is one of the most dynamic industries in the world. Companies are always keen on developing products that meet the emerging needs of their targeted customers in the best possible way. According to Ozuem and Azemi (2018), there is always a race among companies in the fashion industry to come up with trendy products that outperform those of their rivals in the market. Scholars have been investigating what role the culture plays in defining changes that often occur in the fashion industry. They have investigated how culture dictates new trends and marketing strategies used by the relevant companies in the industry. Christiansen, Yildiz, and Yildiz (2014) argue that although culture plays a critical role in defining the trends in the fashion industry, fashion marketing also has a significant impact on the lifestyle of all social groups. In this project, the researcher will be seeking to investigate the impact of fashion marketing, especially in the clothing industry, on culture.
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Culture and fashion are two intertwined concepts, as Örtenblad (2016) explains. When defining fashion, lifestyle is one of the cardinal factors that one must consider, especially in the clothing sector. The attire for Muslims is significantly different from that of Christians and Hindus. Similarly, the traditional clothing of some Asian and African communities which are yet to be influenced significantly by western culture is different from that of people of Europe and North America. However, a study by Ozuem and Azemi (2018) shows that there is a significant impact of international fashion marketing on culture. The use of the most popular celebrities across the world in the advertisement of specific products is redefining culture in different societies. Although short skirts and trousers are still rare among women in the Middle East and North African countries because of the Islamic culture, it is clear that the younger generation are keen on embracing the American culture. Ozuem and Azemi (2018) admit that cases have been witnessed in the recent past where culture evolved because of marketing strategies that constant glorify certain modes of dressing over others. That is why it is important to investigate how fashion marketing affects culture.
Aim and Objectives
The primary aim of this study is to investigate the impact of fashion marketing, specifically in the clothing sector, on culture. The following are objectives that should be achieved in this project to realise the aim of the study:
- To identify the emerging fashion trends in the clothing industry.
- To determine the relationship between international fashion marketing and culture in the modern century.
- To identify and address the literature gaps on this research topic.
As Brennen (2017) notes, it is important to ensure that research objectives help in achieving the aim. The three objectives will make it possible to investigate how international fashion marketing affects culture. It will make it easy to understand how various marketing campaigns affect beliefs and practices of people.
Trends in the Fashion Industry
According to Cheginia, Molanb, and Kashanifar (2016), the fashion industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the world, and it is also one of the most competitive. The clothing sector remains the largest and most prominent in the industry. Chuaha and Ramayah (2013) state that for a long time fashion in the clothing sector has been broadly classified into western and eastern cultures. It is believed that the eastern culture is always modest, especially when it comes to women clothing, and the emphasis is placed on the need to ensure that the body is properly covered. On the other hand, the west is renowned for a trend of ‘less is the best’ look among women. For men, Godart et al. (2015) believe that the western culture is popular with casual wear while the eastern culture emphasises mainly on official attires.
Kandler and Shennan (2018) associate such a contrast with cultural differences among people from various parts of the world. It is important to note that a convergent trend has been witnessed over the recent past when some dress codes became popular irrespective of cultural differences, as Zehira et al. (2014) note. The trend can not only be caused by changes in cultural beliefs and practices among people from various parts of the world, but also partly by international fashion marketing. The increased interaction among people from all over the world and promotional campaigns has made many nationalities appreciate the fact that we have more in common than what makes us different. Mihaleva and Koh (2016) say that although we may be of different colour, race, religion, or any other demographical factor, the humanity and the general desire to make the workd better for everyone creates commonalities between people all over the world. The new international marketing strategies are making people to embrace new cultural practices, especially among the youths who want to look like their favourite celebrities.
Culture and Fashion
Cheginia, Molanb, and Kashanifar (2016) conducted a study on the impact of cultural values on fashion marketing. In their study, they found out that culture and fashion are closely related and a firm cannot ignore that relationship when operating in the fashion and apparel industry. For a long time, culture has been the driving force of the fashion in clothing industry. Every time a designer comes up with a new fashion, Mihaleva and Koh (2016) explain that his or her goal is to present a culture in the best possible way. Beauty, comfort, and safety are critical factors that influence fashion, but they all revolve around culture. Kandler and Shennan (2018) warn that it is almost impossible for a new design of clothing to become successful if the designer failed to take into consideration the relevance of culture within a given market. For instance, the Saudi market is one of the most attractive ones in the Middle East for companies specialising in women clothing. A Canadian clothing firm that does not understand the local Saudi culture may fail miserably if it brings popular western clothing in this market. Women in this region are expected to dress in a given manner as per the Islamic customs and traditions. Emerging trends in the fashion industry must observe these local cultures and principles to be successful.
Chuaha and Ramayah (2013) observe that although culture has been playing a critical role in defining changes in the fashion industry, a new trend is emerging where fashion marketing is influencing culture nowadays. Marketing is becoming an immensely powerful tool that is used to transform the world. As competition becomes stiff, large multinational companies are taking a completely new approach to promoting their products to customers. These large multinational firms have realised that they cannot compete favourably against local companies based on cultural factors. To gain a competitive edge, they are now defining what customers should buy. The concept of a brand ambassador is proving to be the powerful tool of marketing that they are using to overcome cultural barriers in the market. Football is a popular game that brings people together irrespective of culture, race, religion, geographic location among other differentiating factors. Many people admire top footballers such as Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, and Thierry Henry. Marketers are using these top celebrities to advertise their products while giving little attention to cultural practices of the targeted population. The desire to be associated with these celebrities easily makes the targeted population to ignore cultural norms and embrace a completely new concept (Howard & Widdowson 2013). In turn, the practice that was deeply entrenched becomes less popular and meaningful to the targeted people. The strategy works well with teenagers and young adults who feel they deserve to define their destiny.
The impact of fashion marketing on culture can be explained by different theoretical concepts. It is a trend where cultures are converging based on the deliberate actions taken by marketers to popularise specific mode of dressing. The concept of cultural melting pots is one of the best explanations of how people can unconsciously shift from their traditional culture to a new culture based on forces exposed to them. Mihaleva and Koh (2016) say that cultural melting point as a society where people with varying cultural backgrounds blend because of the common forces they face on a regular basis. The concept explains how the current globalised society brings people together and forces them to embrace a common culture that may not be necessarily related to their traditional practices.
According to Battaglia et al. (2014), massive works of research exist that explains how culture influences fashion in the clothing and apparel industry. However, little has been done to explain how fashion also influences culture. Some dress codes have become acceptable, such as men’s suit (Chuaha & Ramayah 2013). However, little research exists to explain how aggressive fashion marketing led to such acceptance. The culture in the Middle East and North Africa is slowly changing, especially in terms of dress code. Women are becoming more liberated. Many scholars attribute these changes to increasing levels of education among the affected population, as Chuaha and Ramayah (2013) note. However, little credit is given to fashion marketing, a powerful tool that is currently defining the behaviour of teenagers and young adults all over the world. This project will address the gap by explaining in details how fashion in marketing is changing the culture of people all over the world.
When defining the research method for a given study, one of the most important factors that one has to take into consideration is the philosophy that one intends to use. Brennen (2017) explains that the chosen research philosophy defines the major assumptions that will be made in the study. A researcher can decide to use any of the four research philosophies (pragmatism, positivism, realism, and interpretivism) based on the nature of the research and assumptions that must be made. In this study, the most relevant philosophy is pragmatism. The philosophy holds that a concept can only be accetable and relevant if it supports action. It appreciates the fact that the world can be interpreted in different ways while conducting research and that no single general way must be used during such interpretations. Embracing this philosophy is critical in this study that tries to determine the impact of international fashion marketing on the culture. It means that the study will have to explain how culture and fashion marketing are related practically. The study will explain how popular international fashion marketing may influence culture of a given society (Brennen 2017). It is important to note that the approach that a marketer in popularising a fashion product in a given market can have a lasting impact on the cultural practices of the targeted group. What is glorified in the popular media can easily be embraced by the society, especially among the youth.
After selecting an appropriate research philosophy, the next important step is to select an appropriate research approach. One can choose to use deductive, inductive, and abductive research approaches based on the chosen research philosophy and the aims and objectives of the study. In this study, the researcher will use inductive reasoning approach. Figure 1 below shows the pattern that this research approach takes.
This approach enables a researcher to develop research objectives and then gather evidence through observations. Of interest will be to determine how international fashion marketing is affecting cultural forces within a given society. The investigation will look at how fashion marketing in different parts of the world has promoted western culture globally. For instance, the manner in which lingerie is advertised in North America and Europe is different from how it is advertised in the Middle East and North Africa (Hewson, Vogel & Laurent 2016). However, the more youths in the Middle East get exposed to commercials that target audience in the western countries, the more they embrace that culture. One can come up with a general claim that culture of people defines messages that they find acceptable. Some words and images acceptable in one country may be offensive in another country. However, the more a given message is understandable to a specific audience, the more it becomes acceptable. The impressive marketing strategies used by some of the global companies are promoting cultural practices that were not popular in some parts of the world (Howard & Widdowson 2013). After developing a generalisation, a tentative hypothesis is developed as further evidence is collected. One can then develop a hypothesis based on the statistics obtained.
According to Örtenblad (2016), one of the most important stages of conducting research is the process of collecting data. After defining research goals and objectives, a researcher must collect data from relevant sources to meet those goals and objectives. They can only be realised if data is collected and analysed appropriately. The primary data will come from secondary sources. Books, journal articles, and reliable online sources will be used as secondary sources of information. They will provide the background of this research. Brennen (2017) says that it is critical for a researcher to ensure that his or her work does not duplicate already existing information. It is important to ensure that the study introduces new knowledge or expands the existing ones. One of the critical aims of the study is to address the existing knowledge gaps. That is why the researcher intends to conduct further review of existing literature on this topic to identify the gaps. The review identifies issues that need to be addressed in this field of study. The research will also use primary data sources. The researcher will identify a sample of respondents who will be interviewed to collect primary data, as discussed in the section below.
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Primary Data Collection Instrument and Process
Primary data will be collected from a sample of respondents. Given that primary data will be collected in the United States because of the location of the researcher, it was important to have a sample that would help in addressing the research topic. It will be important to collect data from aboriginals or experts in their history to understand how their culture changed from what was considered traditional to what is currently the case because of international fashion marketing. According to Howard and Widdowson (2013) the aboriginals living in reservations have tried to maintain their traditional culture for a long time. They have avoided embracing the western culture by minimizing their interaction with the rest of the American society. However, it is not easy for this small group of Americans to avoid the influence of social media and television programs. The younger generations have difficulties in resisting to cultural practices that are promoted by advertising companies. They find the dresses advertised in mass and social media more appealing than what their parents or grandparents used to wear. Many have considered leaving these reservation camps because of the new cultural practices they have embraced.
A sample of 50 participants will be needed to help in the data collection. This group will offer the researcher a perfect opportunity to understand how culture is influenced by international fashion marketing. By questioning a sample of the aboriginals who have shifted from their traditional customs, it will be easy to understand how promotional campaigns influence beliefs and practices of people. Of interest will be to determine how aggressive fashion marketing affected that change (Örtenblad 2016). Given the large target population, sampling will be very important in this study. Stratified sampling technique will be used to identify participants. The method will enable the researcher to collect data from specific groups of people based on their experiences, level of knowledge on this topic, and other relevant factors in the study. The approach will make it possible to collect data from a wide group of people, including the aboriginals and experts in their history, to get different views on this issue.
A questionnaire will be used to collect data from these respondents. It will be prepared and then sent to the sampled respondents via e-mail. The decision to use e-mails in data collection was conditioned by the limited time for the research and the challenging task of physically reaching out to the target population. Respondents will be requested to fill questionnaires and then send them back electronically as soon as possible. Using a questionnaire was considered appropriate in standardising the responses from participants. It also simplified the entire process of collecting data from participants. Some of the questions will be structured using a Likert scale of 1-5. Such measurements will help in determining the degree of impact of international fashion marketing on culture.
Once the primary data is collected from respondents, the next critical phase is the analysis. The primary data will need to be analysed to help answer research questions and meet research objectives. The researcher will analyse primary data using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Structured data will be analysed quantitatively using statistical package for the social scientists (SPSS) software. Unstructured questions will help in explaining the impact. The mixed method approach will help in meeting the set research aim and objectives.
Planning and Critical Analysis
According to Brennen (2017), it is important to observe ethics when conducting research, especially in a study that requires the participation of people. In social sciences, it is common to involve people, especially in the process of collection of data. One of the most important ethical considerations that a researcher should not ignore in such processes is the need to protect the identity of participants. Sometimes views and perceptions of a respondent may be radically different from that of the majority. It is common to find cases where people are criticised or even victimised if the majority realises that their views are different. Örtenblad (2016) advises that it is the responsibility of a researcher to ensure that his or her study does not lead to victimisation of a section of participants. The varying views of respondents must be presented as clearly as they appeared during the process of data collection. It means that the most appropriate way of protecting participants is to hide their identity. The researcher will assign participants codes names instead of using their actual names. It is also an ethical requirement for the researcher to inform participants about the study and answer all questions that they may have. The researcher will engage participants and inform them that this is academic research.
In this study, it is expected that there will be some limitations that may be encountered, especially in the process of data collection. One of the main limitations is that most of the existing secondary sources focus on the impact of culture on fashion marketing and not vice versa. However, this limitation can be managed by sourcing for books and articles that talk about forces that affect changes in culture. When collecting primary data, one of the biggest challenges expected is the identification of the aboriginals. Most of them have immigrated to the urban where they are leading a lifestyle that is common to that of the rest of the population. Those who are still in the rural areas have also changed their lifestyle, and it is not easy to trace them unless one is directed. Physical identification of these people may be necessary to understand how their culture has changed with time. However, that may be hindered because of the complex transportation requirement. Most of the developed economies in North America have some of the best road and rail infrastructures in the world in its cities. However, the rural areas do not have such efficient transport system, especially in some of the remote areas where these aboriginals still lead near-traditional lifestyle. As such, the researcher had to rely on collecting data from those who can be reached electronically.
Timeline of the Research
The table below shows the timeline of activities in this project:
Table 1: Gantt Chart.
|1-15 Jan 2018||17-31 Jan 2018||3-5 Feb 2018||1 16 Feb 2018||17 Feb-30 Mar 2018||2-15 April 2018||18-28 April 2018||1-5 May 2018|
|Review of Literature||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Primary Data Collection||X|
|Primary Data Analysis||X|
|Writing the Dissertation||X|
|Proofing and Editing||X|
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