Today, fashion copying disputes are generally settled not in courtrooms but in trials by social media. Fashion copycats and those who support them are routinely named and shamed online, resulting in a host of material or economic impacts. One of the effects can be retailers pulling the offending items off the shelves, leading to a loss in sales and investments. Shaming fashion copycats on social media also results in symbolic consequences, including damages in brand name of retailers selling the copied items or the accused designer. In other words, social media users are playing a major role in the operations and regulations of the fashion market. In scholar Minh-Ha T. Pham’s talk, two questions will be considered: how do social media users define and police fashion property and fashion piracy? And what are the implications of these online activities on our understanding of the expanding scope and scale of consumer labor as well as of citizen policing?
Minh-Ha T. Pham, a media studies professor at Pratt Institute, New York City, researches and writes about power and fashion labor in the context of global and digital economies. She is the author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet, a book that examines how race and gender shape the work and economy of personal style blogging as well as numerous academic and mainstream media articles. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.