At the start of the semester I set myself several revised objectives to work towards in resolving my working research topic.
I have reflected on each objective which can be seen below.
Objectives and goals:
1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:
A) With body image (Females, 18-24)
B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).
I aimed to speak with both Vogue UK and Vogue Japan, and aimed to carry out questionnaire’s or interviews with at least 10 females from both the UK and Japan, in order to gain quantifiable data. I have spoke with Vogue Japan in regards to obtaining quantifiable data in regards to obecjtive 1.B, whilst on my International research trip to Tokyo, however was unable to secure a meeting/interview with Vogue UK. I do not feel that this has hindered my research progress as the information gained through speaking with Editors at Vogue Japan answered some of the questions which I would of posed to UK Editors. I do feel though that without speaking to Vogue Japan this would of hindered cross-cultural research, and in retrospect was most beneficial to travel to Japan to have such candid and honest conversations with Vogue. I feel this has tremendously helped with my research working towards resolving my research topic/question.
In relation to the above objective I feel as though I have researched heavily into self-perceptions and social media and feel that travelling to Japan has allowed me to spend more time researching magazines in as much depth, especially cross-culturally. Even though fashion and beauty industries are becoming more digital, social media has been a more current point of research in a Western context, whilst magazines have been more of a focus cross-culturally with social media not being as ‘big’ in Eastern cultures in comparison.
I contacted course leaders of various, relevant fashion programmes at the following HE institutions in the UK after being unsuccessful in making contact with HE institutions in Tokyo – Leeds University, Leeds Beckett, CSM and Manchester Met in regards to objective 1.A. The aim of this is to obtain both British and Japanese contacts from fashion courses whom may be interested in completing a digital questionnaire in regards to my research topic in the hope of gaining an insight into cross-cultural influences. I did not hear back from most however again do not feel this has hindered research as contingency plans were put in place in order to still collate research as required. In regard to objective 1.A. I spoke with Toni Hollowood an MA student at CSM studying a similar subject matter, and found this to be of great benefit to gain similar perspectives to that of my own, whilst also pushing me in further directions of research which helped with objective 1.B.
I planned on collating a series of data from at least 10 British and Japanese females between the ages of 18-24 in order to gather and analyse measurable and comparable research. In response to this, an anonymous questionnaire was written and shared by myself, contacts in Tokyo and via Leeds College of Art in order to gain different perspectives working toward both Objective 1.A and 1.B. I opened up the questionnaire to male participants also in order to gain a different perspective and in sight of the research topic at hand.
In addition, whilst in Japan I spoke with a beauty blogger working towards Objective 1.B. I have not spoken with bloggers in the UK or USA as feel this was achieved in Semester 1, allowing for comparative data to be collated.
An interview with Brittany Rhodes, a competitive female body builder of 24 years, in order to gain a different perspective on my research topic, in relation to Objective 1.A. whilst also interviewing two models based in the UK, working again toward Objective 1.A. In addition, interviews were carried out at ASOS, understanding perspectives from an International brand and e-commerce point of view, working toward both Objective 1.A and 1.B.
In regard to objective 1.A. research trips to both London (7th/8th Jan 2017) and Tokyo (16th-23rd Jan 2017) were carried out in order to gain comparable and measurable visual data and field-research. Methodologies included looking at AD Campaigns of Western brands for example Chanel and Topshop, in order to see how these are promoted in the East for example, in order to see if the same models are used and what language is used. This allowed me to see if influences such as this can affect the perceptions of those in Japan being exposed to foreign visuals of cultural icons and western celebrities for example. Store managers at Burberry were spoken to in London, whilst also looking at visuals, look books and AD Campaigns. A similar approach was carried out in Japan, whilst attending relevant exhibitions to strengthen research and support interview/research findings, and looking at magazines/products available and packaging in comparison to that of the UK beauty and fashion industries. In addition, secondary research was used to inform my primary field-research, i.e. looking at recent technologies such as the Shiseido Makeup Mirror, which were analysed and looked at whilst in Tokyo. In Tokyo, as planned and discussed in Semester 1, I visited the Flagship Shiseido store in order to speak with staff about such advances and their customers feedback, whilst also finding out that such technologies are not available in the UK, and only are used in they Flagship store. A full list of measurable methodologies can be found here;
- Visual Research
- Comp Shopping
- Verbal Research: Interviews
- Publication (Magazine) Research
- Technological Advances
2. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.
Semester 1: I have researched into the policies of charities such as B-EAT, as discussed in depth in both my report, and in my first professional context presentation, however, industry links have secured a meeting with ASOS’ Corporate Responsibility and Design teams in order to gain a better understanding on their Model Welfare Policy, working towards both objective 2 and 5. In support of this, and to add context to my research, I have also secured interviews with two models working in industry to gain their insight on my research topic, whilst discussing whether or not such policies would be of benefit and feasible to the industry to further help with research working towards objective 2 and 3.
Semester 2: In regard to the above, this semester I met with ASOS and two models as noted, in order to gain information on my research topic and the use of policies aiming to positively tackle issues surrounding self-perception and body image in the beauty and fashion industries. This was working toward objective 2 and 3. This was also working toward objective 5 however this objective has been omitted since undertaking research and realising that an international policy is not feasible and can not be achieved. In addition to this, I spoke with Vogue in Japan regarding their own policy; The Health Initiative, which also is working toward objective 1.A and 1.B. These topics and findings have since been discussed in my dissertation in depth.
3. To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.
Working toward this objective, I have carried out meetings and interviews with a range of participants as discussed above, including two models working in industry to gain a different perspective of research working towards objective 2 and 3, and a female body builder to also gain a different perspective. I also met with MA student Toni Hollowood from CSM, employees at ASOS and Vogue Japan in order to gain different insights on my research topic and the subjects covered within this. In addition, I also met with a beauty blogger in Japan. Furthermore, an anonymous questionnaire was created, receiving 25 responses from a range of male and female participants. All of the above is also working toward objectives, 1.A, 1.B and 2, as well as Objective 3. By speaking with a range of people with a range of perspectives, i.e. consumer and industry insight, I was able to gain a range of pragmatic an interpretivist data for comparative, cross-cultural analysis.
4. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.
I had planned on collaborating with Leeds-based commercial photographer Scarlett Carson in the aim of producing an editorial campaign working towards objective 4. This was originally planned for semester 1, however due to time constraints has been put on hold, and since other priorities had taken over allowing for this to unfortunately take a back seat. This is due to how much research was undertaken in Semester 2, accounting for travelling time and analysis time also.
During this semester, one practical project was undertaken, a sourcebook of beauty trends, looking cross-culturally at two contrasting cultures, looking at socio-cultural norms, expectations and ‘ideals’. This was derived mainly from my International research trip to Japan and my findings, which I found extreme in regard to Western culture and trends. Each spread reflects a trend with supporting blurb that has been written to explore and explain the trend whilst touching on self-perception issues, theory and ‘ideals’, relating back to my research and dissertation. However, I plan to look at this much more in regard to theory and heavy analysis Semester 3, when producing my independent magazine. The sourcebook was originally going to be a mini-magazine or zine, testing the target audience for the ‘final’ version in Semester 3, however, I realised whilst designing that this book should be more of a sourcebook of trends to highlight to those, male or female, in the industry the contrasting beauty trends and cultures, opposed to producing a magazine twice.
In Semester 3, I aim on producing an independent magazine which collates the research and interviews carried out in both the UK and Japan, using interviews as articles as the main anchor point of the magazine. I feel as though I have had to carry out all of the research done to date in order to reach this point of deciding how to go about the practical work for both Semester 2 and 3, yet feel that research has informed the direction of my practice and the practical work itself. I also plan on collaborating with photographers, interview participants and the beauty blogger I met in Japan in Semester 3 in order to produce the magazine.
Feedback from various designer friends, whom gave advice and feedback the copywriting and typesetting in particular, especially in relation to the justification of text, widows and alignment in order to perfect the editorial aspects of the book. Feedback on practical work in Semester 2 was given from various designer friends, whom gave advice and feedback the copywriting and typesetting in particular, especially in relation to the justification of text, widows and alignment in order to perfect the editorial aspects of the book. I found this particularly useful to the perfection of the book, whilst also listening to the advice of printing services whilst printing and binding the book. In addition, spreads, cover art and development posts, were shared on my Instagram account to test reception from a relevant beauty and fashion related target audience; and positive feedback was received and reassured themes/aesthetics. Please see screenshots below: