Fashion and Magical Capitalism
Speaker: Prof. Brian MOERAN (Visiting Professor, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Hong Kong, and Professor, Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Copenhagen Business School)
Time: 4:30 – 6:00 pm, 20 Oct 2015 (Tuesday)
Venue: LT9 Yasumoto International Academic Park Chung Chi College, CUHK
Our department was grateful to have Professor Brian Moeran, the Professor
of Business Anthropology at the Copenhagen Business School and currently a Visiting
Professor at the University of Hong Kong, to deliver a seminar on “Fashion and
Magical Capitalism” on 20 October 2015. Professor Moeran is a social anthropologist
and has written widely on advertising, art and aesthetics, ceramics, fashion
magazines and other media forms.
|Prof. Brian Moeran|
Professor Moeran started the seminar by elaborating on some of the
key terms, such as “fashion” and the set of terms like “magic”, “charm” and “glamour”.
He mentioned that fashion is about seeing and being seen, and people nowadays
are paying more and more attention to the way of being represented and
representing themselves. The language of “magic” is frequently used by
magazines and people in the industry, which helps to construct a reality that
invites consumption. Other common practices in the industry, like finding
famous stars to wear designers’ clothes, also help to enchant the way we dress.
Professor Moeran emphasized that fashion focuses more on “becoming” rather than
“actual being”, and he assimilated the symbolic process and the “magic” of
fashion industry to Shamanism, which attempts to change states of consciousness
for communication with another world.
Professor Moeran also talked about the technologies of enchantment. For
instance, advertisements in magazines use the same structure and the content always
consists of “meaning of meaningless words”. With the use of “verbal spells”,
the production and distribution of fashion products appear to have the power of
transforming people into a new personality. People in the industry make use of
skilled revelation of skilled concealment to create a magical arena, and believe
that they possess the power to affect even though they are also uncertain about
the mechanism. Professor Moeran emphasized that the magicians, magical
representations and magical rites interact as a system, and the uncertainty
principle of “magic” is real to the natives and can affect their behaviors. Professor
Moeran concluded his talk by noting several economic properties of creative
industries—uncertain demand, art for art’s sake,
motley crew, infinite variety, and preference of one practice over another.
More than forty people attended, and the attendees showed great
interest in the seminar and asked a lot of questions. For instance, some asked
how the fashion world can turn “non-believers” to “believers” of this “magical
industry”. Professor Moeran raised the importance of socialization in shaping
the aesthetic senses of people and making them see things in particular ways.
An attendee also shared some of the similar charactistics such as the
uncertainty encountered in the fashion industry in Hong Kong, and suggested
that this sense of uncertainty has positive effects like enhancing the
solidarity of the team.
Once again, we would like to thank Professor Moeran for delivering
this inspiring seminar which gave audience anthropological insights to the