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Consumptive Pictures

Ghali, M. (2017). Art that challenges consumption [Painting]. Daily Star.

“The idea was that consumption was a symbolic system we use but we do not understand, in the same way, that we speak language clearly without being able to give a lesson in grammar’’

Daniel Miller, Consumption and Its Consequences.

According to the anthropological view, clothing is a symbolic process and part of human life and culture, which weaves people’s identity. It is a tool, through which individuals are getting recognized and accepted by other social groups of people or communities such as school, family, colleagues etc. Clothing reflects the dimensions of human life and culture, from personal to professional, also from a wedding to a funeral.

In our times, the fashion industry has established the style and the taste of clothes, as one of the highest priorities of our daily routine, especially through our digital and virtual presence. The fashion industry has become one of the most powerful industries during the pandemic, while the marketplace was typically closed for a physical human presence, on a global level. The digital opportunities of shopping and advertising have created new habits for consumers. The field of fashion has penetrated our daily flow through the social networks (such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest). Our world turns into a fashion universe. Consumption is the new communication. Nowadays, clothes talk louder than people. Humans are the second ’’cast’’ in their own advertisement. They talk through images. We see them buying new outfits and selling them to a crowd, using the social networks that were made for communication at a first stage, and not for sales. People are connected through their clothes, reflecting pieces of trendy lifestyles.

Lately, attitude and personality are revealing from styling, lifestyle and clothing. People and especially women, invest in their external characteristics, spending so much energy to look at new trendy outfits, buying them and finally advertising them on their personal or professional profiles. But the ultimate goal or internal target is not only the external beauty or the surface. The deeper goal for the consumers and the base on which the fashion industry is relying is the sense of belonging. In terms of the apparent philosophy of fashion, the codes that used, are quite arbitrary because, these codes, do respond to socio-cultural rather to practical, needs. The operational side of fashion, that brings the consumptive behavior and activity, has social bases and not only materialistic ones. Fashion is an answer to the human desire of setting the intensity between the expression of the personal self and to the fact that people belong to a wider community.

Nolan, J. (2015). Homage To Money - And Man Created Money [Image]. Fine Art America.

On one hand, people can mime each other having the psychological security that they belong to a socially accepted community, by wearing the same brands or types of clothing. On the other hand, they can use the fashion to express their personal style through a slight modification of a given style by the digital-social trends.

Fashion is a product of class division of societies, revealing the double operation of sustaining the consistency of a group of people and at the same time, excluding this group from others. Most of the times, fashion satisfies the need of higher financially groups of people, making the difference comparing to the lower ones and at the same time, creating the possibilities for the last ones, that some day they could reach the first classes. It is an endless game, between social classes and status.

There has been a lot of debate recently, about whether is mentally and financially dangerous or not, to use the social media power and effectiveness to promote fashion and clothing, lifestyle and trends for women and men. One aspect is that the social networks provide the digital field in which the art of marketing grows and works effectively, helping so many companies, professionals and finally the marketplace. Another aspect is that the daily human flow is a storm of advertisements, materialistic habits, cultivating superficial mindsets to the users and consumers, which will harm their mental health and financial position in a long term.

Although both aspects are corresponding to the human reality, the real solution comes from the individual’s management and perception of this digital reality. People need to be aware of the digital and virtual tools, the algorithms and the goals behind every new digital opportunity that might reveals during situations as the pandemic. Consumers and users need to be educated and well informed regarding the connection of the non-digital world with the digital one, in order to be able to recognize the techniques and the targets of every social, virtual and digital move they trace and face during their online activity and experience.

To conclude, a deeper knowledge of these meanings will help them balance their emotions and feelings, separating the virtual world from their non-virtual reality, having the most possible clear and healthy view of the digital fashion and its invisible mental consequences.


  • U. (2018, July 11). What’s Wrong with Consumption? UCL Anthropology.

  • 3. ECONOMETRIC MODELS FOR CONSUMPTION ANALYSIS. (n.d.). Fao. Retrieved July 31, 2021, from

  • Miller, D. (1995). Consumption and Commodities. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24(1), 141–161.


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