I’m Not the Target Market

Every so often I glance through the glossy fashion magazines like Vogue or Elle. It gives me the same sense as when I read anthropology books: I’m looking into a very different culture and lifestyle. Recently, I read an article by a Korean-American woman grumbling about the twice-a-year beauty treatments she “has” to get, and about all the creams, lotions, cleansers, and other things that she “must” use.

My response was not sympathy, or agreeing that standards of beauty are terrible things and that the power of social norms must be broken. My response was “So stop doing that, stop using that stuff, and just go with the basics.” OK, she lives in NYC, so air quality and winter weather are more of a problem for her. On the other paw, she doesn’t have the “zero to natural mummy” dryness that everyone fights out here. And her job may require using all the cosmetics and having the beauty treatments, since she is a professional fashion and beauty writer. If that’s the case, then why fuss? It is part of her job. Like courtesans having to look beautiful and having to stay current on all sorts of political and economic matters, so they can entertain and discuss at the level that they are hired to do.

The clothing gives me the same reaction, although budget also comes into play. “Eight hundred dollars for a white cotton shirt?!? No lace, no beading, no fancy hand-worked trim? Ye doggies.” OK, paying a lot for a high quality leather skirt I can sort of see, because I know that high quality leather costs real money. But then I’m not the kind who can wear a leather skirt well. Form fitting and Alma do not play nicely together, and I don’t want to have to do all the upkeep required to keep a high-end leather skirt in good condition. Other women do, and good for them.

That’s a different world, where a person’s job depends on wearing the current styles, knowing the current trends, and conforming to certain standards of culture. I keep track of some of it, just to be up on culture. Sort of like I am aware of TV shows and what is popular in the gaming world, even though I don’t game and I avoid most TV. (I’m more cognisant of pop-culture than some teens and pre-teens I know. That’s . . . well, I don’t quite know what to make of it. They are in very snug niches, and seem to like it there. *shrugs tail*)

I’m not sure I’m in anyone’s market niche, unless “Victorian lady explorer academic” is a marketing category. And it doesn’t bother me. I can piece together what I like to wear, what I need to wear, the music I like (or need), and the books I want (or need). G-d bless the internet and technology for making it possible to find medieval and renaissance music, faux-Victorian clothing, good walking shoes, and more books than will fit in my house!


11 thoughts on “I’m Not the Target Market

  1. The same here – I flip through a magazine like Vogue (on rare occasions when I am stuck in a place with nothing to read, and a copy of it happens to be there) and I might as well be reading about strange rituals, relics and costumes of aliens from another galaxy. I am the woman who carried the same leather Coach bag for over twenty-five years, and who, when I do dress up for a book event, am wearing full Victorian or Edwardian drag.

  2. “Victorian lady explorer academic” Sounds like an Amazon book category. You could be number 1 in the Victorian lady explorer academic category! Some of those things in that alien culture I find myself wanting to explore to be able to understand for my female characters. None of my characters has been a fashionista, but I might someday find use for one.

    • I’m reasonably certain that the fashionista target market will never be interested in any of the stories we’ll ever write.

      And the stories that have been widely successful Including fashionistas, have featured them as caricatured foils (or outright villains, with fashion itself being evil).

      I’m pretty sure there’d be more commercial appeal in learning the intricacies of the accordion.

        • But do they exist in greater numbers than accordion aficionados?

          My argument isn’t that such a thing is impossible.
          It’s that the benefit of targeting that niche is small, and carries the opportunity costs of not targeting other niches that might be more inclined to appreciate the gesture. (As well as the potential costs of turning off a good portion of the audience who might otherwise be interested. Robert Jordan alone trained thousands of readers to start skipping pages any time clothing was brought up.)

    • OK, let me clarify a bit. Fashionista was an overstatement for effect, but there are other things. Most of us men have never put makeup on. Most women in our culture have, no matter whether they typically wear it. My wife was a scientist, much more comfortable in groups of men than in groups of women. She almost never wore makeup, but she knew how to put it on. She was also a big jewelry maven. Thenewneo occasionally features how a woman got dressed in 1770’s America, or 1840’s England. You may never actually use it for a character, but it informs your approach writing about that period nonetheless. Just sayin’. YMMV.

  3. I’m fascinated by fashion. I’m also fascinated by exotic tropical fish and orchids for much the same reasons. Fashion (and jewelry) is art to be worn but if it doesn’t fit well and can’t be washed, then it’s too much work.

    Find that happy medium!

    • The handwork on some garments, and the engineering on others, intrigues me. Some . . . Well, you can always be the horrible warning.

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