Personalisation and identity in fashion

IFFTI 2019

Paper 120

Anthony Kent,
Iryna Kuksa
& Tom Fisher

Nottingham Trent University

Personalisation and identity in fashion

The aim of this research is to explore the concept of personalisation, the relationship between the consumers and producers of personalised fashion and its ethical implications.

Although individualisation in fashion consumption is well known, personalisation is less understood. A significant part of the problem lies in the different uses of the term by producers and consumers and their dynamic interaction. Fashion producers are increasingly intent on acquiring personal data and new uses of big data that contribute to the ability to micro-market and to personalise individual products, services and experiences. However, the rise of co-created designs, looks and communities with consumers challenges their ability to manage the process. The contribution of producers and consumers is less clear as both sides exploit new channels of distribution and communication and create new fashion communities. As identity is fundamentally defined by distinctiveness, more complex forms of personalisation may create more – and alternative – forms of identity.

The paper examines the problem of personalisation from two theoretical perspectives. First, as a social rather than a transactional activity. Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) recognises the fragmentation of markets and the primacy of the consumer as a socially-connected being. It positions personalisation in consumer culture as providing meaningful ways of life and material resources on which consumers depend and their mediation through markets. Second, taking an ethical position on personalisation, the argument focuses on the boundaries of fashion consumption, the problems of ownership and permission to personalise and the ways personalisation can be understood in a value system. The paper concludes with a summary of personalisation defined by consumer and producer interactivity, temporality and ownership to advance the conceptualisation of personalised and personal fashion identities.


Anthony Kent

Tony Kent is Professor of Fashion Marketing in the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University since 2013. His primary research interest is the convergence of physical and online worlds and the branded experience, and secondly in design management and methodology. He has delivered papers at a wide range of business and design conferences and has published three books most recently on Retail Design. He is a co-organiser of the International Colloquia on Design, Branding and Marketing. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the Higher Education Institute, and is Deputy Chair of the Marketing Special Interest Group of the British Academy of Management. He graduated with BA (Hons) from Oxford University and holds an MBA and PhD.