Luxury Fashion Consumption and Identity Work: A Study of Black African Women in London

PhD Thesis

Emmanuel Stephen, C. 2017. Luxury Fashion Consumption and Identity Work: A Study of Black African Women in London. PhD Thesis University of East London Business and Law
AuthorsEmmanuel Stephen, C.
TypePhD Thesis

Extant research suggests the various motives for consumer behaviour. Within this theoretical context, there seems to be an advancement of knowledge. However, understanding the reasons for the consumption of luxury fashion brands by ethnic minority groups and how this behaviour impacts on identity work is overlooked. Thus, this research aims to extend knowledge of consumer behaviour by enquiring into the motives for luxury fashion consumption by Black African women in London and its effect on identity work. In this backdrop, this research adopts three qualitative techniques: interviews, focus groups and overt participant observation. Forty-seven Black African female consumers in London were interviewed, two focus groups consisting of eight and nine respondents and ten women were observed. Participants were recruited through snowball sampling strategy. Data collected was analysed through inductive content analysis, which means themes flow from the data. Initial and axial coding was used to categorise findings into ten themes that address the objectives of the research. Results of this study reveal various reasons Black African women engage in luxury fashion brand consumption. These reasons include brand relationship, anthropomorphism, consumer and brand personality and aspiration. Findings also show that the location of the brand at the point of purchase plays a vital role in the decision making process. The study is intense in its theoretical advancement as it provides strong support for the impact of the place identity on brand and consumer identity. This research suggests that identity is transferable from place to product and subsequently to the customer. It also supports culture as an influencer in luxury fashion consumption. Within the cultural theme, lifestyle and heritage are common factors that prompt visible consumption. Black African women use luxury fashion products as an heirloom because of its premium price, quality and durability. Furthermore, this research proposes vital frameworks to explain the motive for consumption. The sequential mating model which infers that mate signalling is a strategic process that involves four stages. Consumers use luxury fashion brands as signalling object to attract a mate. After mate signalling is successful, retaining the mate becomes a circular model with the relationship as the principal components. Aspirational frameworks are also evident. They show different groups of aspirational consumers. The first and second group are those who are loyal to a particular brand, while the third, show people who are loyal to luxury fashion brands with no brand preference. Theoretically, the findings of this study provide valuable insights about Black African female consumers who have a positive attitude towards purchasing luxury fashion goods. They use this practice to reinforce both the self and the social concept. To luxury fashion managers, since Black African women see this behaviour as a way of life, marketing campaigns should be made to focus on this segment. This research is unique and novel as it creates a link between luxury fashion consumption, Black ethnic minority group and identity theories.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintNov 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2018
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Related outputs

Hedonism and Luxury Fashion Consumption Among Black African Women in the UK: An Empirical Study
Emmanuel Stephen, C. and Gbadamosi, A. 2021. Hedonism and Luxury Fashion Consumption Among Black African Women in the UK: An Empirical Study. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management. 26 (1), pp. 126-140.