Passionate Surfers in Image-Driven Consumer Culture: Fashion-Conscious, Appearance-Savvy People and Their Way of Life

Fang Wan, University of Minnesota
Seounmi Youn, University of Minnesota
Tammy Fang, University of Minnesota
ABSTRACT - Benefiting from a nationally sampled database, the study explores the relationship between fashion consciousness and its relevant constructs. Dissatisfied with the fragmented linkage between fashion consciousness, the psychological mechanism underlying the construct, and the behavioral implications in the previous study, this study attempts to adopt an integrative frame to bridge the separate linkages of the concept in the literature. Factor analysis, regression analysis, and correlation analysis yield supporting evidence that fashion-consciousness is a multi-dimensional construct, predicted by a host of demographic variables and psychological measures. Fashion conscious people also reveal a special style of socializing and consuming in the consumer culture. The importance of the study is discussed in the conclusion.
[ to cite ]:
Fang Wan, Seounmi Youn, and Tammy Fang (2001) ,"Passionate Surfers in Image-Driven Consumer Culture: Fashion-Conscious, Appearance-Savvy People and Their Way of Life", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 266-274.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Pages 266-274

PASSIONATE SURFERS IN IMAGE-DRIVEN CONSUMER CULTURE: FASHION-CONSCIOUS, APPEARANCE-SAVVY PEOPLE AND THEIR WAY OF LIFE

Fang Wan, University of Minnesota

Seounmi Youn, University of Minnesota

Tammy Fang, University of Minnesota

ABSTRACT -

Benefiting from a nationally sampled database, the study explores the relationship between fashion consciousness and its relevant constructs. Dissatisfied with the fragmented linkage between fashion consciousness, the psychological mechanism underlying the construct, and the behavioral implications in the previous study, this study attempts to adopt an integrative frame to bridge the separate linkages of the concept in the literature. Factor analysis, regression analysis, and correlation analysis yield supporting evidence that fashion-consciousness is a multi-dimensional construct, predicted by a host of demographic variables and psychological measures. Fashion conscious people also reveal a special style of socializing and consuming in the consumer culture. The importance of the study is discussed in the conclusion.

With the evolution of Hollywood movie-making techniques, contemporary consumer culture is more and more defined and expressed by images. It seems that culture itself is built upon its ability to fabricate images and meanings and distribute them en mass (Ewen & Ewen, 1992). With the power to access mass audience, commercial media disseminate and promote images, thus, make the commercial traffics in images, each with a sale to make, become a central force of culture, delineating the ideals and norms of behaviors and social life. Images diffuse throughout modern consumer culture and shape the experiences, motivations, lifestyles, self-concepts and consumer values (Thompson & Hirschman, 1995). The impact of image on social life lies in the fact that people socialize and interact based on their impressions of each other, which in turn are formed based on the images portrayed by individuals themselves.

In material terms, clothing, fashion, or adornment has become an essential part of conspicuous and material embodiment of the image which one wishes to express. They also constitute an important arena of popular expressionCoften a self-defined voice. As William James once wrote, "The old saying that the human person is composed of three partsCsoul, body, and clothesCis more than a joke" (James, 1890, p.292). He considered clothing to be a vital component of the "material self", which constituted a major part of the self. It seems that what we choose to wear and possess is the extended forms of our self-expression.

However, each individual may place different emphasis on "material" and "immaterial" self, or interpret and interact with the popular images differently based on heir psychological or sociological make-up. In this sense, this study takes the perspective of consumers to explore how their psychological constructs influence their way of participating in consumer culture. Instead of adopting critical and interpretative orientation, which is considered as a common practice of researchers who study cultural and phenomenon, this study tends to employ a micro-level or individual-level analysis to identify the psychological mechanism of those appearance-savvy consumers. This study attempts to understand how the psychological constructs of fashion are related to people’s socializing and consuming behaviors.

To deal with such a task, we try to identify the key psychological constructs in the previous literature to understand what psychological characteristics make consumers sensitive to images and physical appearances, and how these psychological aspects make them become allegiant and avid consumers in a modern consumer culture.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A voluminous literature describes that fashion consciousness is an important construct to define those avid consumers who are sensitive to the images, and their physical attractiveness. The literature of fashion theory tried to explore why and how fashion-related behaviors or preferences are related to self-concept and psychological traits. Researchers explored fashion-related trait, consumption or behavior in several ways. The first approach emphasizes psychological processes of fashion diffusion (e.g., Schrank, 1973; Goldsmith & Stith, 1990; Stanforth, 1995). These researchers examined who the fashion or trend setters were and how others followed and adopted fashion. For example, Schrank (1973) found that opinion leadership and innovativeness are two important variables to predict fashion adoption. Goldsmith and Stith (1990) reported that fashion innovators are younger and place greater importance on the social values such as being respected, excitement, and fun/enjoyment aspect of life than non-innovators. Stranforth (1995) found that fashion innovators are more related to traits such as sensation seeking, adventure seeking, boredom, susceptibility and clothing individuality.

Researchers (e.g., Gould & Stern, 1989; Gurel & Gurel, 1979; Summers, 1970; Demby, 1972; Crask & Reynold, 1978) from the second approach take both social and psychological aspects into consideration when examining fashion-related concept. Specifically, fashion-conscious consumers are related to traits such as self-assertive, competitive, venturesome, attention seeking, self-confident (Summers, 1970); creative, upwardly mobile, innovative, and sociable (Demby, 1972); they are slightly younger, better educated, have higher income, are much more active at travel and sports and entertained frequently (Crask & Reynold, 1978).

Other traits such as self-esteem, clothing interests, innovativeness, vanity, public or private self-consciousness are related to fashion-consciousness. For example, Kwon (1997) investigated the relationship between perceived facial attractiveness, social self-esteem, and interest in clothing. His findings show that one’s interest in clothing might be interpreted as a form of social skill which is associated with one’s social self-esteem and one’s facial attractiveness. Both studies of Kwon (1997) and Gould & Stern (1989) show that there is a gender difference in fashion consciousness. Women, compared to men, indicate greater interest in clothing (Kwon, 1997). Moreover, fashion conscious women pay more attention to external appearance while men more private, or internalized self-identity and maleness.

The final approach is to relate fashion concepts to outcome variables such as shopping activities and shopping preferences (e.g., Bloch & Richins, 1992; Netemeyer, Burton & Litchtenstein, 1995). For example, Bloch and Richins (1992) found that when using adornments, a person may feel more attractive, and thus experience greater self-esteem, or a more psitive mood. Such effect is also found to be true in both clothing and cosmetics (e.g., Cash & Cash, 1982). The increased level of feeling attractive will also improve user’s satisfaction because the reactions of others to the self are enhanced (Bloch & Richins, 1992). Solomon (1985, 1992) also found that fashion conscious people are more ready to use appearance-related products to enhance their self-concept.

FIGURE 1

AN INTEGRATIVE FRAMEWORK OF STUDYING FASHION-CONSCIOUSNESS

Previous studies provide different linkages among fashion consciousness, psychological constructs, and the subsequent behaviors. However, the linkages and connections are remaining separate and fragmented. Also, measuring fashion-consciousness by a particular scale (e.g., clothing interest scale), researchers in the past assume unidimensionality of fashion-consciousness. There is a need, first, to conceptualize fashion-consciousness as a multi-dimensional concept which is not only limited to clothing consciousness. Also, it is important to disentangle how psychological constructs are involved differently in the appearance-related consumption and how they are linked to other fashion-related behaviors. Fragmented linkage between fashion and other related concepts fails to provide comprehensive framework to study fashion consciousness. The current study adopts an integrative framework, examining who those fashion-conscious people are in terms of demographics, their attitudes, interest, and opinions (AIO), and consumer values. Furthermore, this study explores how fashion conscious people consume appearance-related products and are engaged in entertaining and socializing activities. The integrative framework is outlined in Figure 1.

METHODOLOGY

Data. The data used in this study came from the 1997 DDB Needham Life Style Study. This is an annual consumer mail survey that assesses attitudes, interests, opinions, personality traits, activities, and product consumption. Approximately 5,000 adult Americans were selected by quota sampling based on national census data. In 1997, 1,591 males and 1,871 female provided usable data, and the response rate is 69.3%.

Measures. To examine a comprehensive theoretical framework of fashion consumption, a wide range of measures were selected from the Life Style Questionnaire that assess psychological constructs, attitudes, interests, opinions, usage of products, and activities.

Fashion Consciousness. One of our interests is to explore the structure of "fashion" as a multi-dimensional construct, not a uni-dimensional construct. For this, fifteen items were identified as potential indicators of fashion consciousness or behavior from AIO section. They were measured by a six-point scale ranging from "definitely disagree" to "definitely agree." This study applied Principal Components analysis to these items, rotating to a Varimax solution. This analysis yielded a four-factor structure that accounted for 52.8% of the variance, with factor loading ranging from .43 to .78. Table 1 presents these four factors and illustrative items.

The first factor, which accounted for 27.9% of the variance, was comprised of items that indicated interest in clothing or dressing. This was labeled "Dressing Style." The second factor was composed of items reflecting materialistic value in fashion consumption, with the variance of 9.7%. We labeled it "Materialism." The third factor, which explained 7.8% of the variance, included items concerning young and gook-looking appearance or indicating experimentation with appearance (i.e., plastic surgery). This factor was named "Physical Appearance." The fourth factor included items reflecting enhancement of uniqueness, unconformity, or distinctness. This factor explained 7.4% of the variance, and was labeled "Individuality."

Three factors produced Cronbach’s alphas ranging from .58 to .72, and these were considered to have achieved an acceptable level of reliability (Nunnally 1978). Individuality had an alpha of .52. While this was considered rather low, this factor was retained because of its perceived theoretical interest. In fact, given that the exploratory nature of the secondary data analysis, this factor was deemed somewhat reliable. For subsequent analysis, individual items were aggregated for each factor as index for individual sub-factors. The scores of the items were also summed across four factors to create an index for the overall factor.

Notably, the four-factor structure provides us an empirical support for argument that the all-encompassing fashion concept can be broken down into more narrowly defined constituent concepts. Furthermore, this framework makes it possible to speculate that each sub-concept is differently related to fashion-related constructs including AIO and consumer values.

Psychological Discrimination Measures. It is of particular interest to determine what constructs are related to both the four sub-factors and overall fashion factor. To identify a wide range of discrimination measures, this study selected approximately fifty-seven items that reflect any of the constructs expected to potentially relate to fashion and consumption. These items were also chosen from attitudes, interests, and opinion section in the Life Style Questionnaire, and were measured by a six-point scale, "definitely disagree" to "definitely agree."

TABLE 1

FACTOR STRUCTURE OF FASHION CONSCIOUSNESS

The fashion-related AIO constructs were "healthy eating," "financial concerns," "price consciousness," "brand consciousness," "self-confidence," "risk-avoiding," and "innovativeness." The fashion-related consumer values were "attitude toward technology," "attitude toward sexual issues," "advertising skepticism," and "environmental concerns." Benefiting from the original data set, we included some constructs such as brand consciousness, attitude toward sexual issues, or environmental concerns, which the previous studies never dealt with, in our analysis to explore new facets of fashion-consciousness construct.

Fifty-seven items potentially related to fashion were also subjected to a Principal Components analysis, with a Varimax rotation and eigenvalues over 1.0. This analysis produced eleven interpretable factors that generally conformed to the expected pattern of constructs, accounting for 50.2% of the total variance. Table 2 shows these factors, with illustrative items.

Negatively loaded items were reverse-coded and a Cronbach’s alpha was calculated for each factor. Eleven factors yielded alpha ranging from .58 to .87. They were then included as independent variables and regressed on the four sub-factors as well as overall factor. In the further analysis, index for each factor was constructed by summing scores of all items in that factor.

Behavioral Discrimination Measures. As literature shows, fashion consciousness is expected to link to behavioral measures such as shopping activities, consumption of fashion-related products, entertaining activities, and socializing activities (e.g., Netemeyer, Burton & Litchtenstein, 1995). To illustrate the relationship, this study selected a variety of items that, from earlier work, would show meaningful patterns from activities and products/services usage section in the questionnaire. Items of fashion-related activities were all asked on a seven-point scale, from "none in past year" to "more than 52 times in past year," except the online shopping, which was measured dichotomously. Regarding the consumption of fashion-related products, this study selected personal products items such as skin care products, hair-styling products, and cosmetics (only for women). They were measured by a seven-point scale, "don’t use"through "once a day or more." Demographic variables such as gender, age, education, and income were included.

For the sake of data reduction, we factor analyzed items reflecting shopping activities, socializing behaviors, and consumption of skin care products, using Principal Components, with a Varimax rotation and eigenvalues over 1.0. Factor scores for each factor were saved and used for correlation analyses with each of the sub-factors and the overall factor of fashion consciousness. Some behavioral measures (such as on-line shopping) were composed of single item.

TABLE 2

FACTOR LOADINGS AND INTERNAL CONSISTENCY COEFFICIENTS FOR MAJOR CONSTRUCTS

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Identification of Interrelationship Between Fashion Constructs

The primary goal of our study is to explore the multifacet nature of fashion-consciousness as a construct. To investigate this, this study conducted a correlation analysis to the overall factor of Fashion Consciousness and its sub-factors (see Table 3).

Interestingly, the overall factor of Fashion Consciousness was most strongly correlated with Dressing Style (r=.80, p<.001) and Physical Appearance (r=.77, p<.001) sub-factors, followed by Individuality (r=.71, p<.001) and Materialism (r=.63, p<.001).

For the interrelationship among four sub-scales, Dressing Style sub-factor was highly associated with Physical Appearance sub-factor (r=.52, p<.001), and rather moderately related with Individuality (r=.39, p<.001) and Materialism (r=.33, p<.001) sub-factors. Individuality and Materialism sub-factors revealed relatively moderate relationship with other constituent sub-factors, indicating somewhat less of interrelationships each other.

Psychological Characteristics of Fashion Conscious Consumers

As we conceptualized in Figure 1, one of our goals is to explore the relationship of psychological constructs to the overall and sub-factors of Fashion Consciousness. We expect that, in addition to demographic variables, psychological constructs (e.g., AIO) and consumer values would be important determinants of fashion consciousness or behavior. For this, different hierarchical multiple regression models were performed on both the overall factor of fashion consciousness and its four sub-factors.

A total of fifteen independent variables, grouped in three separate blocks, were included in this analysis. Demographic variables such as gender, age, education, and income were entered in the first block. The AIO variables including healthy eating concerns, financial concerns, price consciousness, self-confidence, brand consciousness, risk-avoiding, and innovativeness were entered in the second block. Finally, consumer values such as attitudes toward advertising, technology, sexual issues, and environmental concerns were included as the last block. Overall and sub-factors of fashion were treated as dependent variables separately. We adopted this analytic approach because this study attempted to determine whether the psychological constructs including the AIO constructs and consumer values will contribute to the Fashion Consciousness in addition to demographic variables. The results are shown in Table 4.

As the results in Table 4 show, the independent variables explained 37% of the total variance of the overall factor of Fashion Consciousness. Among them, the AIO variables and consumer values are important predictors of the overall factor even after demographic variables had been controlled.

First, demographic variables, as a block, explained 6% of the total variance. Gender and age were significant predictors of overall Fashion Consciousness factor. Women showed greater level of fashion consciousness than men (b=13, p<.001), and younger consumers were more concerned about their fashion styles than older consumers b=-.09, p<.001). The education and income variables did not emerge as significant predictors in this study.

The AIO variables added another 29% to the explained variance, after controlling for the demographic variables. Innovativeness was clearly the strongest predictor of Fashion Consciousness among these variables (b=.30, p<.001), supporting the findings of the previous studies (Goldsmith and Stith 1992; Tatzel 1982). Interestingly, healthy eating was also strongly and positively associated with fashion consciousness (b=.23, p<.001), indicating that health conscious consumers are greatly concerned about their external appearance or fashion style. Brand consciousness emerged as a positive predictor of fashion consciousness (b=.19, p<.001), and self-confident consumers were more likely to be involved in fashion-oriented behaviors (b=.14, p<.001). Financial concerns turned out to be a significant but moderate predictor of fashion behavior (b=.11, p<.01), implying that consumers who don’t hesitate to buy are more likely to be concerned about their fashionable appearance. Notably, price consciousness and risk-avoiding constructs showed weak relationship with the overall Fashion Consciousness.

TABLE 3

CORRELATIONS OF OVERALL AND SUB-FACTORS OF FASHION CONSCIOUSNESS

TABLE 4

HIERARCHICAL MULTIPLE REGRESSION EXPLAINING FASHION CONSCIOUSNESS

Consumer values explained additional 2% of the total variance after controlling for demographics and AIO variables. Attitude toward technology appeared to be a positive contributor of overall fashion consciousness (b=.07, p<.001), which implies that consumers who hold more positive attitudes toward Internet or computer usage are more likely to be attentive to fashionable appearance. Liberal attitude toward controversial sex issues was moderately associated with fashion consciousness (b=.05, p<.001). Consumers with more liberal value about socially sensitive sexual issues (e.g., same sex marriages, sex education for adolescents, and abortion) tend to be more concerned about fashion and their external appearance.

Advertising skepticism was a negative predictor of fashion consciousness (b=-.11, p<.001). Consumers more tolerant with advertising issues (e.g., children ads, sex in ads, and liquor ads) tend to be more concerned about their fashionable appearance. Green consciousness (concerning energy efficiency and environment protection) was not a significant predictor of fashion consciousness factor (b=-.00, ns).

When individual sub-factors were entered as the dependent variable, each model performed well, explaining 24% to 31% of total variance, except "Materialism" sub-factor. In the case of "Materialism", the regression model only accounted for 15% of total variance.

Regarding "Dressing Style" sub-factor, demographic variables explained 12% of the variance. Women and younger consumers were more likely to have a greater level of interest in clothes (b=.29, p<.001 for women; b=-.08, p<.001 for age). The AIO variables contributed additional 19% of the variance after controlling demographics. More health conscious (b=.25, p<.001), more innovative (b=.24, p<.001), more self-confident (b=.12, p<.001), and more brand conscious people (b=.12, p<.001) tended to pay more attention to what they wear and how they dress. Among consumer values, advertising skepticism appeared to be a significant but negative predictor (b=-.09, p<.001), and green consciousness was moderately associated with interest in dressing up (b=-.04, p<.05). Unlike in the regression model of the overall factor, attitude toward technology turned out to be an insignificant factor to predict "Dressing Style" sub-factor.

When "Physical Appearance" sub-factor served as the dependent variable, the demographic variables explained 4% of the variance. Consistent with other analyses, women showed higher level of interest in physical appearance. Interestingly, age didn’t appear as a significant determinant (b=.01, ns), while income variable turned out to be moderately significant predictor of this sub-factor (b=.05, p<.01). Higher income consumers tend to show a great willingness to keep young and good-looking appearance. For "Physical Appearance," the AIO variables explained 19% of the variance after controlling or demographics. More health conscious (b=.24, p<.001), more innovative (b=.25, p<.001), and more brand conscious (b=.16, p<.001) were more interested in improving their external appearance. Interestingly, self-confidence trait didn’t emerge as a significant predictor, indicating that people who are self-confident may not be willing to take the risk of undertaking cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance. Consumer values explained only additional 1% of the total variance. Attitudes toward technology (b=.06, p<.001 and sexual issues (b=.05, p<.05) appeared to be positive predictors, while advertising skepticism appeared to be a negative predictor (b=-.07, p<.001).

When "Individuality" sub-factor was entered as the dependent variable, the results demonstrated a different pattern. Demographic variables accounted for 11% of the variance. Different with other models, only age appeared to be a powerful, but negative predictor of "Individuality" (b=-.20, p<.001). Younger consumers tend to be more concerned about demonstrating their uniqueness or distinctiveness. The AIO variables explained another 16% of the variance. More innovative (b=.18, p<.001) and more self-confident (b=.17, p<.001) consumers thought they were unique. Unlike other models, health conscious (b=.08, p<.001) and brand conscious (b=.09, p<.001) traits are significant and positive, but not strong predictors of Individuality sub-factor. Financial concern was moderately associated with Individuality sub-factor (b=.14, p<.001). Notably, risk-avoiding construct turned out to be a significant and negative predictor (b=-.04, p<.01), indicating that more risk taking consumers were interested in developing their individuality. Consumer values accounted for additional 3% of the variance. Open-minded to technology (b=.08, p<.001) and liberal attitudes toward sexual issues (b=.08, p<.001) appeared as important predictors, compared to other models. Also, advertising skepticism was negatively associated with this sub-factor(b=-.12, p<.001), suggesting that consumers with more positive attitude toward advertising tended to show higher level of individuality.

When "Materialism" sub-factor served as the dependent variable, this model showed different pattern. Demographic variables explained only 2% of variance. Unlike other models, income variable appeared to be the most important predictor of "Materialism" sub-factor (b=.07, p<.001). Among the AIO variables, which explained additional 14% of the variance, innovativeness (b=.20, p<.001) and brand consciousness (b=.18, p<.001) were dominant predictors of "Materialism." Self-confidence trait was also moderately associated with "Materialism" sub-factor (b=.11, p<.001). Like "Individuality" sub-factor, healthy eating variable appeared as a significant, positive, but not a strong predictor of "Materialism" sub-factor (b=.07, p<.001). Surprisingly, risk-avoiding turned out to be a positive determinant of this sub-factor (b=.06, p<.001). Among consumer values, which explained only 1% of the variance, attitude toward technology turned out to be an important predictor of this sub-factor (b=.07, p<.001), meaning that people who held more positive attitude toward technology tended to be more conscious of how the things they buy are the expressions of themselves.

These findings suggest that sub-factors of Fashion Consciousness showed slightly different relationships with demographic, AIO, and consumer values. These findings lent support to our previous argument that Fashion Consciousness construct should be considered as a multi-dimensional, not a uni-dimensional one.

Behavioral Characteristics of Fashion Conscious Consumers

As demonstrated by the correlations among overall factor and the sub factors, fashion conscious people are highly aware of their appearance, of how they dress and of how the things they possess are the extended forms of their self-identity. Taken together all these characteristics, we expect that these people are avid consumers, or passionate surfers in the consumerculture and highly involved in any appearance-related consumption and activities. But it is interesting to see which facet of their fashion awareness is related to what specific consumption activities. To investigate this, we chose a range of items measuring fashion-related products consumption, shopping activities, entertaining and socializing activities and correlated them with fashion consciousness factors. The results are shown in Table 5.

Regarding shopping styles, fashion conscious consumers tend to shop at the high-quality stores and be engaged in home shopping activities such as informercial or mail order. They are less likely to go to the convenience store, which is in line with the results of other studies that fashion conscious consumers tend to shop in traditional department stores, rather than national chain or discount department stores (Hirschman, 1979). Interestingly, those who are more conscious of showing individuality are more likely to be involved in on-line shopping activities.

In terms of appearance-related activities, highly fashion conscious people are more likely to spend money on clothing, to be on diet, or to go to hair saloon more frequently and get some special hair care products from saloon. The table also shows that "Dressing Style" and "Physical Appearance" are two facets highly correlated with appearance-related consumption. For example, those who would undertake cosmetic surgery to enhance one’s looking will definitely be willing to spend money on clothing, be on diet, and take good care of their hairstyle.

TABLE 5

CORRELATIONS BETWEEN FASHION CONSCIOUSNESS, CONSUMPTION ACTIVITIES, AND APPEARANCE-RELATED PRODUCT USAGE

In addition, highly fashion conscious people have colorful entertaining activities. They are more likely to go to concerts and movies. Compared to other facets of fashion-consciousness, individuality is more correlated with activities such as going to pop or rock concert and movies. This can be explained by the previous finding that these groups of people are usually young.

In terms of socializing activities, highly fashion-conscious people love social gatherings, and they send cards on different occasions to strengthen their personal ties with friends and family. The last aspect of the finding is that fashion conscious people are avid consumers in terms of their product usage patterns. They are more willing to use special hair care, skin care products, suntan products to enhance their looking. For women, most heavy cosmetic users are highly fashion conscious people.

CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSIONS

The major purpose of this study is to adopt an integrative framework to test the linkages between fashion consciousness, the related constructs, and consumption patterns. Benefiting from rich measures of a nationally selected sample data, we were able to use new variables, which have not been tested in the past studies, in our analysis to test new constructs relevant to fashion-consciousness. Specifically, they were brand consciousness, healthy eating concerns, attitude toward technology and socially sensitive sexual issues, and advertising skepticism. They all turned out to be important predictors of fashion consciousness. The study broke some new testing grounds of the research on fashion consciousness.

However, one limitation of the study is that large sample size helped make small coefficient significant, as one reviewer pointed out. Therefore, we need to make cautious generalizations of the statistically significant yet weak relationships found in the study. Also, the study is exploratory in nature in terms of exploring the underlying components of fashion consciousness and the relationship between fashion consciousness, as a global trait, or psychological construct, and the attitudinal, behavioral variables. We are not interested in using fashion consciousness as an independent variable to predict the behavioral or attitudinal outcoms. Therefore, correlation analysis serves the purpose well.

We explored fashion conscious because fashion conscious people are a very interesting group in modern consumer culture. Paying greater attention to their external appearance, preoccupied with how they consume will reflect who they are, this group of people are avid and passionate surfers in the image-driven consumer cultures. They absorb the images and fashion styles in advertising. They value the brand names of the products they consume because the things they possess are deemed to reflect their self-identity. They are willing to spend money on clothing, on appearance-related products, which will enhance their self-concept and make them feel, look, and smell good. They set the fashion trend, monitor the latest style and serve as opinion leaders to guide people around them to consume. They are innovative, self-confident and upbeat people, who are the allegiant participators in the consumer culture. All these characteristics deserve more attention from scholars in their future research on fashion culture and consumption in the image-constructed society.

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