Presentation held at FSN2018 in Fandom and Media Studies. This talk discusses fan fashion and creative business. In this paper, I will draw out a framework to study different forms of fan fashion, ranging from professional clothing lines that brand pop-culture to haute couture produced by designers and fans. I argue that we need to examine the space of the creative business in more detail, where fans and professionals increasingly exchange and create value in a platform economy.
Fan fashion serves as one example, but I shall show that the trend towards fan-driven business models and a fan-centric economy is a much larger one.
This is Rodarte; high-end brand from 1980. Star Wars clothign line; they were allowed in at Lucas Skywalker ranch.
Wife of Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, wore this to the Oscars btw
premium, high-end, prêt-à-porter, haute couture;;; Hat is fashion? A system? An industry? A creative act? An embodied act/cultural practice? Ffashion is all about bodily practices, consumer culture,and yes, there is a gender component often but we shouldn’t narrow it down to this.
Ashley EIckstein in Lego Dress
Sailormoon shoe cllection from Tyake Tyoke (200 euros)
Fan fashion in the Age of Creative Business
Star Wars on the Catwalk
Fan Fashion in the Age of Creative Business
Star Wars couture
‘Founders of Rodarte, Laura and Kate
Mulleavy, explained they mined nostalgic
feelings and their “fascination with
storytelling and cinema” to design the chic
Star Wars gowns with film stills printed
onto silk textiles’
They did a special photoshoot at the
Skywalker Ranch. PAPER is the first
fashion publication that George Lucas has
granted access to the property.
Fan fashion is booming and diverse - fan-
made costumes, official
costumes/cosplay, retail, and high fashion
Today I’ll introduce you to some cases
related to this, and show you a typology
for analyzing this phenomenon
*With fashion I mean both low (retail) and
Embodiment and fandom
Fan fashion as an example of how bodies,
art and fan identity interlace (self-
expression, enunciative identity)
This phenomenon is not just fan-driven
anymore, but increasingly facilitated by
creative business itself
Fan-driven business models
Platform economy (Uber, AirBnB but also
Etsy, ebay) facilitates a change in value.
Platforms monetize the activities of users
The result? Radical changes in how we
work, socialize, create value, and compete
for the resulting profits.
Urgent: We need to discuss
business/economy more, rather than
I will propose a typology today, a definition
and lots of examples to run by you. But this is
explorative, based on some pilots. More
research and case-studies are needed.
Note that fashion overall (Kawamura, 2011) is
not researched enough. Often devalued in
academia; it’s seen as linked to women and
(For more info, you can check my pIlot study
in The Companion to Fan Studies of The
Hunger Games fashion)
Defining fan fashion
Fan fashion is the system of production
and consumption of clothing in the
“aesthetic economy” (Entwistle, 2015) of
fandom and creative business. The
fashioned body of the fan is a produced
and cultural body.
Wearing fashion is a bodily practice. In fan
studies, these embodied expressions
(including tattoos and make-up) can be
studied further. They signify subcultural
capital and identity clearly and visually.
High fashion inspired
Fashion in pop-culture
Wearables (e.g. Red Bubble)
Branded retail (e.g.
Typology of fan fashion
Fashion shows like Her Universe at Comic
Con push the boundaries of fan/geek
culture and design/creative business.
E.g.: LEGO dress worn by Ashley Eickstein
The creative space and related audience
is clearly still a fannish one; the fan
Since you have heard me about this often,
I won’t detail, but this culture is very
affective with a strong community and
This is a booming creative business also of
official cosplays (especially in Japan), fast
fashion/costumes from China and more.
Fan labor matters here.
Jan Taminiau’s Marvelous collection
explicitly draws from female superheroes,
comic strips, Marvel and more - intertext
matters here and the designer performing
HIgh-end Clothing lines
This is essentially luxury pieces, not your
everyday fast fashion from Primark.
Like Rag & Bone’s Star Wars collection or the
Capitol Couture collection (by Trish
Summerville who worked on Catching Fire’s
costumes) designed for Net-a-Porter
‘features laser-cut leather, streamlined
silhouettes and dramatic eveningwear.’
Fashion in Pop-culture
Of course fashion also shapes pop culture
and vice versa and this lines blends more and
more. Think of Alexander McQueen’s pieces
or Jan Taminiau’s that’s used in Hunger
Games, or in Lady Gaga performances for
Business models that tend to emerge from
fan artists/crafters who print on-demand and
customize t-shirts, jewelry, leggings and
more. Today this is easy with platforms such
as Red Bubble.
Customization overall is a big trend and
technology (e.g. printing tech) will accelerate
This is the unofficial part of the spectrum,
without licenses and small-scale (right now)
but problematic when scaled up/bootlegging
This is what we probably all have in our
closet. Shirts from H&M with the Jurassic Park
logo. Gryffindor shirts from Primark.
Also the revival of ‘fake’ band shirts in a lot of
mainstream shops which music fans also
criticized last year (at least in my country).
Also consider how businesses, bands and
others create more ‘authentic’ versions of this
that are true merchandise. The Disney shop’s
clothing lines. Or shirts of Hard Rock Cafe that
are collectibles in their own right..
Food for thought
What I’d love to research further:
a) How do fan artists view their self-made
fashion and what are their business
b) How does fan fashion relate to the
emerging platform economy (e.g. Etsy)?
c) What’s the relationship (and tension)
between fandom and luxury goods?
d) How is dressing up viewed by fans
themselves? How do they culturalize
fandom through their bodies?