The upward-flow theory of fashion adoption “holds that the young — particularly those of low-income families as well as those of higher income who adopt low-income lifestyles — are quicker than any other social group to create or adopt new and different fashions,” such as the fashion of brightly colored hip hop clothing in the 1990s and the trend to wear mod-style clothing in the 1960s, which originated amongst the British working class but gradually came to dominate the pages of Vogue (Flash cards database, 2009).
Thanks to the corporatization of modern fashion culture, I would argue that less and less of fashion seems to be flowing upward and more and more is trickling downward. Even individuals of less affluent backgrounds, thanks to television and the Internet, have the ability to gawk at the fashions of celebrities as well as the very wealthy. At one time such fashions were far less accessible to daily viewing.
People may be buying less clothing, but much of the clothing is patterned upon high-end items. The most successful fashion enterprises tend to be those which copy the fashions of the elite and make these styles affordable to a mass audience. Even the fashion trends of the inner city tend to emphasize bling or a very showy style that echoes that of Versace and other high-end designers. Now, the fancy sneakers of the wealthy are coveted in the inner city, not an urban style — the last major fashion trend of the underprivileged, poor, young and artist was that of grunge many years ago.
Smith, Ray. The $43,000 Recession Suit. The Wall Street Journal. January 24, 2009.
Store wars: Fast fashion. BBC News. February 19, 2003. October 23, 2010.
TXMI 3210 Exam 1. Flash cards database. 2009. October 23, 2010.