After a Fashion – Dene October

ʺNothing beats leafing through the pages of the latest thriller – especially when it’s a posh clothing catalogue.ʺ – Lauren Laverne

To encourage loyalty, department stores such as ‘Kay’s’ introduced fashion catalogues; this too enhanced patterns in consumption, aimed particularly amongst women.

The success of these catalogues through the 1920s to 1960s was largely owed to psychological techniques used in the advertising, and balance of image and text according to modernist principals. This is an example of October’s chosen lecture topic linking in with graphic design and the importance of the layout reflecting the message the designer wants to communicate. We also looked at this concept in John Patrick Hartnett’s lecture; how the choices the designer makes, are essential in communicating the appropriate message to the reader, although in Hartnett’s case in terms of typography.

An example of psychological techniques used in advertising can be seen in this 1933 issue of a Kay’s catalogue. The chosen phrase ‘Hike for Health’ encourages readers to purchase the clothing by suggesting inner health goes hand in hand with outer appearance.

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Due to growth in youth styles, and developments in media, the fashion catalogue is now perceived as dated; however the relationship between the consumer and the catalogue is being revived thanks to title updates and the proliferation of internet shopping.
In contemporary society we can see an evolution in catalogues and a drastic difference in the way clothing is sold to us. Increasingly we are exposed to more sexually displayed models; a selling technique used by many businesses.

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A 1940 Kay’s catalogue compared to a 2011 Jack Wills catalogue.

The perception of which of these is a better selling technique would depend on the generation you asked; our tastes as society have changed and this is all due to updates in fashion and decisions made by designers…
“We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of… who understands the mental processes and which control the public mind” –Edward Bernays,Propoganda (1928)

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