Fashion Icon & Fashion Leader

Categories: FashionPsychology
About this essay


No one could have a accurate and comprehensive definition of the two terms “fashion icon” & “fashion leader” in the past decade while these two new words appear frequently in the fashion world today. However, it seems that these have their own significance and concept in two different cultural perspectives. The propose of this research is to answer the question what does the “fashion icon” & “fashion leader” mean respectively in U.K. and China and what causes the difference understanding of it, which may influence the development of the fashion world in the future.

Literature research, personal interviews and internet surveys are the methods that I used to explore this study which could get in-depth, comprehensive, professional and the newest information.

In addition, what I found out from this study research is to the different culture leading to the difference structure of the society. And having a different form of the society, the rules of the life, the things the public pursue, the place people is looking forward to,the lifestyle the mass being willing to enjoy is not the same.

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This is a big topic to discuss, but we can start from the small point. Let’s go back to the fashion world to talk about the different concept of the two terms, “fashion icon” & “fashion leader”.


A big wave of new word have been appeared these years to describe the new things invented with the development of the modern fashion world; e.g. chic, buyer, disco, stylist…The term “fashion icon ” is thrown around too much these days.

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It is obvious that “fashion icon” is the most popular term which will be mentioned in today’s fashion world. However, the meaning of the new term is different in eastern and western culture. What cause the phenomenon and what difference meaning included with the similar word “fashion leader”is the key point of the research to explore. The definition of fashion is quite complexed which is the value or life style in a period. It is proposed by some small sort of people. And then the public respected and followed.

The range of fashion is very wide, including making-up, clothing, dressing, behavior, sense of identifying, feeling and even thoughts. Not every one can follow a correct direction of popularity for fashion. Fashion could be in a limited scope instead of in a very large scale. Majority have a difficulty about fashion which leads them to follow some pioneers . At this time these person and organization shows their importance to the mass. Having an essence of fashion reflects their own tastes which makes “fashion icons” &”fashion leaders” become some popular these days. To analysis the complexities of the adaption curve into account from two different culture is an essential problem.

PROBLEM STATEMENT/ Research Question:

• What is “fashion icon” in UK? What is “fashion leader” in UK? What is the relationship between “fashion icon” and “fashion leader”? • What is “fashion icon” in China? What is “fashion leader” in China? What is the relationship between “fashion icon” and “fashion leader”? • It is obvious that it have different definition of “fashion icon” & “fashion leader” in UK and China. What factors influenced it? • Will it cause the development of the fashion world in the future? • What other aspects could be related with the difference? Research Objectives and Aims:

1. Aim: To investigate the factors that leads to the difference description of the two new terms in fashion.

2. Objective:
• The information will be extracted from some well-known fashion insiders’ opinions which have been reported to the public. • Questionnaire will be distributed to various types of people, then to collect and count the result of the responses. • To analysis the consequence of all the information of both British fashion area and Chinese fashion area, distinguish the main factor of it.

Literature Review

International aim is fast becoming one of the most popular entry mode strategies for international retail companies when moving into international markets (Burt, 1993; Quinn and Doherty, 2000; Quinn and Alexander, 2002). Though initially slow to respond to this practical phenomenon occurring in the international retailing domain, the academic community has also been gradually turning its attention to the nature of international franchising, in the context of retailer internationalisation (Whitehead, 1991; Sparks, 1995; Quinn, 1998; Doherty and Quinn, 1999; Quinn and Doherty, 2000; Quinn and Alexander, 2002). This review will give a brief conception of the “fashion icon” & “fashion leader” in UK and China separately. Followed by analyzing the factors effect on the phenomenon, to have a further discussion on if it will cause the development of the fashion world in the future and the other relative areas.

In 1980, Chinese professor MINYI HU, who is a professor of the DONGHUA University which university is famous for its fashion and art college in Shanghai, suggested the opinion that a fashion icon is a famous person who dresses in trendy and stylish fashions that catches the attention of people throughout the world. (MINYI HU, 1989) The innate character of fashion is changeable and various. “In act of making fashion choices, a person is animating (making alive, acting, performing) her or his body bu imposing on it a social veneer that permits it to perform in specific desired ways and to be interpreted in the intended manner by others.” (Jennifer Craik, 2009) Which means that if a person want to show her or his individual taste about fashion, she or he can show it through dressing certain style of clothes to present. In addition, HU gave her definition to the term “fashion leader”. A fashion leader refers to an individual or corporation that is taken as a trend setter in the fashion industry.

Usually, such an organization or products by such individuals attract high revenues and admiration from other industry players. (MINYI HU, 1989) According to HU’s theory, fashion icon seems to be person who is well-known by the public for his/her wearing, even he/she can be seen to be a idol following the fans who want to copy his/her style while fashion leader is a more professional position in the fashion field to analysis the fashion trends will be on. “I think that the part that’s holding people back now is that they basically only go to the shows. There’s very few of these street blogs that go back to their city, wherever that is, and shoot. People just get very obsessed with getting a picture of those known names, as opposed to really speaking from the heart and shooting from the heart.” (Scott Schuman, 2012)

However, the famous fashion photographers Scott Schuman considers that the person who can leads to fashion is not just on the run-way and the front stages. The true stylist may live in our life instead of just fitting in the fashion shows. Contrasted with the definition given by Chinese fashion researchers, the understanding of the new term “fashion icon” have a different explaining by British investigators. The famous model Twiggy is be definition of the 1960’s fashion icon. The report set Twiggy as an oppressive icon is consistent with many popular press analyses that render the Twiggy phenomenon as a culturally important manifestation of the ‘‘ideology of thinness’’.(Craig& Diana, 1997) From then on ,the word “fashion Icon” has appeared. According to the newest list of the top 100 fashion icon in the world which supported by TIME (2012), fashion icon contains many varieties of fields, such as designers & brands (Giorgio Armani, Hubert de Givenchy, Vivienne Westwood), models(Twiggy, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell), muses(Madonna, David Bowie, Princess Diana), photographers(Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Steven Meisel), editors & stylists(Isabella Blow, Grace Coddington, Patricia Field), style & design.

A big amount of them come from UK, which illustrates that fashion icon is not just a conception of a certain person who has a good and unique taste of dressing anymore. Fashion leaders can be defined as those who are more interested in fashion than other consumers in the market, who are more confident of their own taste, who are the first to purchase new styles and, above all, who influence other consumers to adopt and buy new fashion items.(Greenberg et al., 1982; Kaiser, 1990; Polegato and Wall, 1980; Schrank and Guilmore, 1973)

Although it fashion leader has been followed in a quite high stage. However, it original aims for the media spread the image of fashion leader is various. For instance, during the 1960s and 1970s, marketers were interested in increasing their knowledge about fashion leaders in order to develop marketing strategies that could attract these consumers. The underlying assumption was that if fashion leaders bought the product, other consumers would probably follow (Kaiser, 1990). Each style affects its carrier’s ability to deal effectively with the alternate kind of group process requirements. A distinction is drawn between culture conflict and related notions of deprivation and culture difference. (Rosalie, 2009) What Rosalie said seems to explain the reason why people will have a different understanding of the two words about fashion.



For this research, I used qualitative and quantitive design by doing literature survey, delivering questionnaire online for the internet surveys and interviewing some friends and the some neighbour for the personal interviews. These are all the methods that I have used to exposes this problem, which could get in-depth, comprehensive, professional and the newest a qualitative way. The essay is intend to develop the difference between two new terms about fashion. A qualitative design may not be able to solve all the questions, instead a method mixed with qualitative and quantitive is appropriate for getting an achievement of this research. To examine the data from all kinds of aspects may contribute to obtaining more reliable information. It was also focused on attitudes collecting from research participants and through the research design, a full-ways understanding about the two words themselves can help the researcher more easily to gain the data and make a results of factors may influence different regions of understanding the same terms. What’s more, a limited time is a other difficulty for these research, but it also a challenge .

Method & Feasibility

Administering questionnaires, personal interviews and internet surveys were the ways for this study. The reasons why using mixed method presented have 3 points. Point 1, it was suitable for researcher’s objectives and could collect a big amount of information from different kind of volunteers in a high efficiency way. Point 2, interviews is a quite distance and fast method way to get information. And can get the feeling of the interviewee face to face. Some are afraid of interview because of feeling under pressure in a one-to-one setting. As a result, point 3 , the internet surveys is better way to involved the embarrassing situation. And combination of all three methods, I consider it is the most appropriate ways to different kinds of people. The sample size was 50 in questionnaire. 17 of them chose to fill in the questionnaire,6 of them chose have a personal interview, and the others prefer have an internet surveys for the research.all the questionnaires were delivered to the volunteers on 12th December and completed on the 19th in the same month.

And it is be left enough time for the volunteer to finish the questionnaire with a no pressure environment. Personal interview is a private situation. Paying attention with protecting the personal information when doing a interview is the key to this methods. Give the enough trust to the interviewees. The result will too good to expect. Internet survey is the same questionnaire with the first method. Privacy protection was still the most difficulty that many voluntee wasn’t willling to fill the real information to de questionnaire. Most of them have a high self protection, which may lead to the information got is not so accurate.

To solve this issue, any information was anonymously collected, but protecting privacy remained in a secret box. In other words, it was necessary for the researcher to explain the content carefully or interpret content appropriately when research participants asked questions about the questionnaire. Furthermore, it was appropriate to provide a written introduction to the topic for participants about the questionnaire, which may have helped them understand easily and be willing to fill questionnaires out. Finally, avoiding harm is also important, which means that researchers should not ask any sensitive questions or personal questions which might cause harm to research participants.

A survey illustrate the main factors about the people’s knowledge about the fashion icon and fashion leaders. 35% people said they know nothing about what fashion icon is ,15% people have a highly awareness about fashion icon but have no idea about fashion leaders, 27% people think even they know just one or two fashion icon , they won’t pay more attention on it, the rest percentage of the person have an interest in fashion and want to know more information about it.

Most person show great interest in fashion is female and no matter the Asian girls or the European girls. But the fashion icon these two different regions girls focus on is different. A result can be get is that people always accept the fashion icon in their own culture more easily.

LIST OF references

Craig, J. T.& Diana L. H. 1997. Journal of Consumer Research. Speaking of Fashion: Consumers’ Uses of Fashion Discourses and the Appropriation of Countervailing Cultural Meanings.Vol. 24, No. 1 (June 1997), pp. 15-42

Greenberg, B.A., Lumpkin, J. R. and Bruner, G.C. 1982. Opinion leadership and innovativeness in fashion diffusion, American Institute of Decision Sciences Proceedings, pp. 240-42.

Jennifer, C. 2009. Fashion . Rhe key concepts , pp. 02 – 03.

Kaiser, S.B. 1990. The social psychology of apparel 2nd ed. Macmillan, New York, NY.

Kerry, P. 2012. Harper’s BAZAAR. Interview – The Sartorialist New Book Closer.

Minyi, H. 1989. Modern Fashion in The Last Decade. New coming words , Vol.6 pp. 88 – 89. pp. 90-91

Rosalie, A. C. 1969. American Anthropologist. Conceptual Styles, Culture Conflict, and Nonverbal Tests of Intelligence, Vol. 71 No. 5, pp. 828 – 856.

TIME. 2012. List, ALL-TIME 100 Fashion Icons.,29569,2110513,00.html

Cite this page

Fashion Icon & Fashion Leader. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from

Fashion Icon & Fashion Leader
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