The aesthetics of diversity in age. Is it really inclusive?

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While the business of fashion is known as the centre of novelty, a number of its areas appear to present predominantly cosmetic and rather belated change. One of the areas where the waves of development seem to be moving ahead of fashion is diversity. During the 2010s, diversity popped up time and again in the debates of fashion, its systems and representations, and whereas the intensity and scope of the debates have augmented, the dominant representation of fashion remains slender, caucasian, straight, unchallenged - and young.
Against this aesthetic norm, the exceptions represent an interesting and increasingly topical development practised by a fraction of brands. On this basis, the contribution of this article is a visual analysis of the aesthetic construction of age-diversity in material for Instagram fashion branding posts, with the purpose of examining the possible construction of inclusion in terms of age in fashion branding.
The article will identify central themes and characteristics of age in a diversity perspective and point to future considerations of aesthetic age-diversity in fashion. The SS20 campaign material analyzed are intergenerational posts from four brands with international reach in the fashion industry. The brands cover a range of purposes and profiles from the activist style to the more classical brand image.

The material is approached in a social constructivist framework with reflexivity and mediatization as central perspectives. The conceptual outlook on fashion entails intangible perspectives leading to more detailed aesthetic considerations. In developing an understanding of the concept of diversity, the article will distinguish between surface-level diversity and deep-level diversity. As this distinction matches a constructivist approach to analysing fashion communication, it will be included in the processing of aesthetic components of age-diversity in two steps.

In the first step, the fashion and age-diversity experience is divided into a two-levels visual analysis with an identification of the aesthetic themes of age in a diversity perspective.
As a second step, the themes are discussed in a progressive aesthetic approach with an initial focus on sensory/emotional dimension. Subsequently, the aesthetic components of age in a diversity perspective are analysed in detail, and the aesthetic character of the age-diversity themes and the possible construction of inclusion are elaborated. The discussion addresses some of the consequences of ambivalence along with the challenges for the fashion industry in its handling of age as a diversity category.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFashion Theory
Publication statusSubmitted - Mar 2023


  • Aesthetics, age, diversity, inclusion, fashion, branding


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