If fashion ‘wants to kill’ its practitioners, that’s because it epitomises capitalist innovation at its bare essence, consisting of the sort of change that is only for the sake of the system’s survival. Fashion is what is left when all pretence to consumer utility or social improvement is stripped away. The sacrifice of perfectly useful goods to the ever-shifting demands of fashion is a kind of corrective purge, an obliteration of what the philosopher and writer Georges Bataille called ‘the accursed share,’ clearing the field so that capitalism’s competitive mechanisms and requirements for endless growth can continue to function.
Given its infancy in the world of academia, fashion studies still shows signs of a discipline in the making, measuring and comparing itself against the long tradition of critical thinking in subjects such as art and architecture. With this in mind, we can in fashion theory often find a reliance on certain key figures. One such figure is Roland Barthes, whose name reverberates throughout the field.