Can fashion writing produce symbolism and be an important category of journalism?
The role of the fashion journalist has become diversified, but it is without a doubt that fashion writing has remained essential in mediating and creating symbolic value for the fashion industry, especially in the field of digital media. Not only has it become a communicator but also a reflector of fashion; from the inside – runway shows and fashion week – to the outside and especially to the fashion consumer. With digital media giving everyone the possibility to participate in fashion, it has become difficult to identify professionals and especially fashion writing by fashion journalists.
In ‘The Fashion System,’ French linguist Roland Barthes studied the connection of words and images in fashion magazines, by looking at words as an essential and descriptive tool that turn garments into alluring fashion. He introduced fashion writing as one of the three essential shifters, mainly the one “from the real to language,” as “it is not the object but the name that creates desire; it is not the dream but the meaning that sells.” In this context, images cannot exist without linguistics, as words add meaning and value not only to photographs but to garments and products.
While Barthes emphasizes the importance of fashion writing as a tool to describe garments, Miller argues that it would not be as persuasive without the concept of taste. This was first developed by British philosopher Anthony Ashley-Cooper, then adapted by David Hume and followed by Edmund Burke, who all desired a method to “discern a beautiful object” from a less alluring one in consideration of its experience. Criticism in this context is of importance to describe objects beyond “personal preference[s]” leading to “intersubjectively valid aesthetic judgment ”. Taken together, it can be said that fashion journalists, therefore, act as mediators through their skill of fashion writing that turns fashion into trends, and makes them desirable to be seen by the reader and the world.