“Browsing the Virtual Boutique with Baudrillard: The New Realities of Online, Device-Based, Fashion Design & Consumption” (2021)

I have a new article “Browsing the Virtual Boutique with Baudrillard: The New Realities of Online, Device-Based, Fashion Design & Consumption” (2021) being published in the special publication: the 3rd Special Issue: In Pursuit of Luxury Journal in collaboration with the Journal of Design, Business & Society.


Contemporary engagement with fashion is with slick simulacra, daydreams, and digital fantasies; an impossible promise of a beautiful, de-corporealized perfection. The virtualizing of fashion consumption has in turn dematerialized garments completely. Although late to the party, the consumer engagement with online luxury fashion has grown exponentially. Extremely expensive items are now purchased before they are engaged with physically. Therefore, within the new realities of device-based, fashion design and consumption, the “wow” factor and virtual considerations are paramount. There should be no surprise though that these garments align so closely with our taste, our consumption habits, and our life patterns, they have been designed to do just that. In this research through observation of a garment that was virtual before it became physical, the ascendant contemporary structure of modern fashion retail is analyzed. This research explores how physical aspects of clothing have been de-valued by the technology of modern capitalism, even as the importance of the “look” has ascended. Another important aspect of the research is the seductive aspects of the marketing of fashion goods. The methods of procurement in addition to the physical characteristics of the object itself undergo a close analysis; how we as consumers are shaped by our methods of consumption as much as by our goods now. This research uses an object-based method, a process wherein both intrinsic and extrinsic information can be gleaned from the close examination of a garment; as well as an interview with a fashion journalist who witnessed the re-organization of a leading fashion website into a retail portal. This data is then combined with relevant theoretical frameworks to form “grounded theory”. The dematerialization of the modern “boutique” that has now migrated online, the incipient forms of marketing to engage consumers, and ultimately the re-contextualization of the body and understanding of the self, all catalyzed by online consumption are considered. As garments are now as ephemeral and placeless as the mechanism for the acquisition, an examination of the manufacture and dissemination of fashion product is warranted; and this in turn provides a more nuanced understanding of the ontology of luxury garments as well as their consumption in the modern fashion retail agora.

Key Words: Virtual Reality; Luxury Fashion; Online Retail; Social Media; Jean Baudrillard

As a result I was invited by the editor: Nick Thomas (of the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire UK), to be a panelist at the following conference: 

Luxury in the Age of Technology – On Line In Collaboration with Politecnico di Milano

26, 27 & 28 May 2021

 The 2021 ‘In Pursuit of Luxury’ conference continues to provide a platform to expand our understanding of luxury. As with our previous three conferences we look forward to welcoming contributions from various disciplines and practices, across the academic and commercial sectors, including automotive, architecture, engineering, fashion, product, digital design, retail, and hospitality. Our aim is to explore all of these subject areas through a critical lens, to encourage debate about changing notions of luxury. The conference will take technology as its focal point, and will look to investigate how luxury is changing under the influence and impact of innovative and transformative technologies of production, distribution and experience. In addition, the conference will continue to explore how democratised (mass) luxury commodities ask us to reconsider our definitions of luxury, as well as the importance and ethics of embedding sustainable/circular practices of luxury, at the points of manufacturing, distribution and consumption. Finally, when we say ‘innovative’, what, exactly do we mean within the luxury context?  https://www.inpursuitofluxury.com/

In Pursuit of Luxury | In Pursuit of Luxury
In Pursuit of Luxury. As a term which has made its way into everyday language, the idea of luxury has secured a place in modern Western culture.

This was a great opportunity to connect with North American and European educators and industry practitioners who are leading research in this sector

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