Whether you are shopping in a warehouse or online, the current product offering is enormous. For example, when you are looking for a new pair of jeans it is easy to become overwhelmed by the wide variety of brands, styles, washings and fits from which you can choose. The number of new packaged goods introduced each year has grown more than 30-fold over the past 50 years. But what does this mean for people, their identity and personal style?
Living in the supermarket of style
Due to the erosion of social hierarchy and the triumph of the youth as new young consumers, the throwaway consumer society arose during the 1960s. Fashion became an expression of personal identity and personal thought, instead of representing a certain class. Short-lived fads became the norm: a youthful image was desirable and clothes were disposed of long before they were worn out. Sociologist Ted Polhemus defines the consumer society as a Supermarket of Style where everything is offered like tins of soup on a supermarket shelf. People ‘cruise’ through lots of clothing and musical worlds, and are able to shift between various styles and identities.
Nowadays, our ‘Supermarket of Style’ is growing and growing. The mass production and mass consumption of goods and services is organised according to the laws of obsolescence, seduction, and diversification. But what does the supermarket of style look like in the future? Will the supply of new products keep growing? Or do we need to take a closer look at our current products? Anti-shopping initiatives like sustainable lifestyle and slow shopping movements are responses to the dominating consumer society and its abundance of consumer goods. Meanwhile, Marie Kondo’s book “The Japanse Art of Decluttering and Organising” has become a bestseller in Western countries. Even millennials are becoming increasingly aware of the negative environmental impact of cheap fast fashion. It seems that they’re growing tired of low-quality and throwaway styles being churned out by certain retailers.
Rethink product life cycles
The general trend moves away from fast fashion and fast consumption. Those movements, counter-trends and signals show the emerging importance and relevance of anti-consumption practices in the construction of modern consumer identities. Therefore, it’s time to rethink product life cycles, consumer habits and the entire implications of organisation’s actions. At Fronteer, we support organisations that are ready to make a positive impact and push the boundaries of their industry. It’s our mission, do you want to join the Fronteer movement for positive impact?