Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Social Media’s Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property

Duke Univ. Sept. 2022. 184p. ISBN 9781478018612. pap. $24.95. SOC SCI
Focusing on how social media users participate in fashion’s complex intellectual property system, this book challenges traditional Western notions of what constitutes a knockoff, fake, or copy. It also questions the power dynamics at play when a global market is held to Western standards of copyright and explores the role of anti-Asian racism in the discourse about piracy and intellectual property. Pham argues that social media users are playing an unrecognized, uncompensated regulatory role in the fashion industry, regularly drawing attention to unauthorized copying of other designers’ work. Pham uses several well-chosen case studies to illustrate the argument that social media users have a real impact on fashion. In one instance, Thai social media users pointed out the strong similarities between an expensive Balenciaga bag and a rainbow-striped shopping bag popular with Thai people. In another, Pham looks in-depth at the work of the popular social media account Diet Prada.
VERDICT Pham’s work offers a thorough look at how online behavior is shaping fashion industry actions and sheds light on the ways the current norms are failing some communities while granting protections to others.
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