The importance of peer approval in the sartorial purchasing patterns of The University of Georgia students

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Date: Mar. 2011
From: College Student Journal(Vol. 45, Issue 1)
Publisher: Project Innovation Austin LLC
Document Type: Report
Length: 4,674 words
Lexile Measure: 1480L

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There's ample evidence that peer approval and group acceptance play a role in many social phenomena. This influence can manifest itself through the bystander effect, peer pressure, social facilitation and in many other ways. However, dress as a means of social influence has been largely ignored. This study was designed to determine whether peer approval and group acceptance influence the sartorial purchases of college students and their participation in popular apparel trends on-campus. The hypothesis was that students' sartorial purchasing habits are considerably influenced by peers. In order to test this hypothesis, a survey was developed around 14 brand-name apparel items popular at UGA which solicited student response on the significance of peer approval in personal decision-making, perceptions of peers' purchasing motivations, and personal involvement in popular trends. Results were analyzed using frequency statistics, as well as categorization of responses. The majority of the respondents (85.96%) owned at least one item and ali respondents were aware of the popularity of the 14 items. In general, students were more likely to rate the behavior of others as more conforming than their own, which suggested that participation in the popular sartorial trends on-campus is viewed as being driven by conformity.


Fashion by its very nature is fast-changing and ephemeral, but contrary to popular belief it is not unpredictable. Hemlines rise and fall in a predictable pattern; silhouettes become extreme and then fall out of fashion. There are many ways fashion forecasters predict what consumers will want before a product achieves popularity. However, some fashions, namely those that arise in particular subgroups, are idiosyncratic and defy predictive techniques. For instance, at The University of Georgia a popular pairing among students is Nike brand track shorts worn with UGG brand fur boots. This makes no logical sense as the items are designed for different climates: shorts for warm weather and fur boots for cold weather. The unpredictability and popularity of such styles suggests that another influence, aside from available fashions, may be driving the participation in popular clothing trends that develop within a college community.

The present research was designed to determine if peer approval and group acceptance influence the high level of participation in popular sartorial trends on The University of Georgia campus. Because fashion has enormous social impact in the lives of young people, it is important to examine the influence that peers have over college students' sartorial purchasing choices. While sartorial purchasing patterns are the focus of this particular study, the results can also shed light on the many ways that students influence one another when they engage in harmful behaviors, such as binge drinking, drug use, and peer pressure, which are often augmented by the college environment (Bourgeois & Bowen, 2001).

Because clothing is considered a personal choice, it is rarely recognized as a significant source of social action. However, clothing trends clearly demonstrate the existence of social influence. Many clothing and accessory items gained so much social influence that they have become synonymous with an entire era, group or...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A252632767