Embracing Imperfection: Contemporary Fashion Communication and Consumer Well-Being


Lai, Y. and Perminiene, M. 2020. Embracing Imperfection: Contemporary Fashion Communication and Consumer Well-Being. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management. 24 (4), pp. 685-703. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-03-2019-0040
AuthorsLai, Y. and Perminiene, M.


Fashion advertising as a contemporary ideological form has the power to deliver semiotic messages, which frames individuals' perception. Promoting perfection in consumer culture has resulted in the creation of unrealistic self-image and negative effects that led to psychological illnesses and pathological behaviours. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the ideology behind the contemporary fashion advertising that embraces imperfection and is linked to consumer subjective well-being.


Nine fashion ads were selected based on the WGSN consumer report Embracing Imperfection. A sample of images was analysed applying semiotic analysis combined with the criteria of content analysis.


The results supported the notion that some contemporary fashion communication brands are challenging the conventional idea of perfection. Five themes were identified as the characteristics that bridged the visual surface of advertising with its hidden ideologies of imperfection. By supporting “anonymity”, fashion brand communication is against excessive self-focus and helps reducing anxiety due to being imperfect. By promoting “rawness”, it encourages authenticity and uniqueness. “Banality” rejects materialism and promotes the beauty of the boring day. “Ugliness” advocates for removal of the single standards and celebrate individual differences, and “spontaneity” is interchangeable for humanity, freedom, openness and acceptance of self.


This study is among the few attempts to conduct semiotic analysis of fashion advertising images aiming to identify the visual components and ideologies that could potentially be linked to subjective well-being in fashion communication.

JournalJournal of Fashion Marketing and Management
Journal citation24 (4), pp. 685-703
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-03-2019-0040
Publication dates
Online24 Apr 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted02 Apr 2020
Deposited06 May 2020
Copyright holder© 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited
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