In other words, Brahmins are more fashionable than Townies. Brahmin tastes, which are basically better tastes, flow downward toward Townies. Twenty years ago, “health food” was a niche ultra-Brahmin quirk. Now it’s everywhere. Suburbanites drink espresso, shop at Whole Foods, listen to alternative rock, you name it.
In Book Six, Knausgaard sheds some light on this very point. For he writes that “style is little more than self-awareness.”
I define fashion as the ability to read or assess the cultural signification field of objects and behaviors, and to then leverage this understanding into the creation and communication of a legible signal — a response, if you will — to a desired audience, within a culturally and temporally specific context.
Fashion involves recognizing:
* sources of innovation
* chains of influence
* levels of saturation
* cultural histories
* subcultural affiliations
* demographic associations
* cultural connotations
* audience knowledge
Trickle up. The trickle-up or bubble-up pattern is the newest of the fashion movement theories. In this theory the innovation is initiated from the street, so to speak, and adopted from lower income groups. The innovation eventually flows to upper-income groups; thus the movement is from the bottom up.
Trickle down. The oldest theory of distribution is the trickle-down theory described by Veblen in 1899. To function, this trickle-down movement depends upon a hierarchical society and a striving for upward mobility among the various social strata. In this model, a style is first offered and adopted by people at the top strata of society and gradually becomes accepted by those lower in the strata (Veblen; Simmel; Laver). This distribution model assumes a social hierarchy in which people seek to identify with the affluent and those at the top seek both distinction and, eventually, distance from those socially below them. Fashion is considered a vehicle of conspicuous consumption and upward mobility for those seeking to copy styles of dress. Once the fashion is adopted by those below, the affluent reject that look for another.