The Not-So-Secret Vice: Menswear, Masculinity and Consumption in Six Online Communities
Weiner, Nathaniel Joseph Moses
MetadataShow full item record
Online menswear communities are discussion forums dedicated to the discussion of mens clothing topics such as raw denim, streetwear, suits and Ivy style. This dissertation reports findings from an online ethnography of six of these communities and fifty in-depth interviews with American, British and Canadian men who participate in them. Because fashion and consumption have historically been gendered as female or gay, the dissertation asks whether the participation of predominantly heterosexual men in these communities is representative of a shift in norms governing masculinity. It also asks what the role of consumption is in shaping the identities of these men. The researcher found that online menswear communities were organised around the consumption of clothing commodities. Consumption shaped the respondents experience of both online and offline spaces, while bestowing them with fashion capital (Rocamora, 2012) within their communities. Respondents ties to online menswear communities were not strong or deep enough for them to be considered subcultures, but they nonetheless acted as resources for identities; identities articulated not in terms of group-belonging, but in terms of shared preferences for craft consumption (Campbell, 2005). The temporary coming together of men with shared lifestyles online made online menswear communities akin to neo-tribes (Maffesoli, 1996). The researcher also discovered that while the respondents were not embarrassed by their engagement with clothing and shopping, they made a rhetorical distinction between the masculine pursuit of style, and the feminine following of fashion. They upheld fashions gendering by rejecting it as manipulated and frivolous, contrasting fashion with style, which was approached as a rational, rule-governed system that one could succeed it at with sufficient practice and study. This was just one among many strategies deployed to avoid fashions perceived femininity. While online menswear community members openness to enjoying the narcissism and homosocial gaze of menswear communities reflected declining homohysteria (Anderson, 2009), the moves they made to masculinise fashion consumption demonstrated the persistence of ideals associated with hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1995). This, along with online menswear community members deployment of the aesthetics of pastiche hegemony (Atkinson, 2011), made their masculinity an example of hybrid masculinity (Bridges & Pascoe, 2014).