Intro To World Building Through Pop Culture - Clothing Brands pt. 5
Writing tips and author advice on building a sci-fi or fantasy world with a focus on pop culture. This is the fifth post in a series.
Intro To World-Building Through Pop Culture (pt. 5)
Do you feel like I just repeated the same four articles in a row?
World-Building Through Pop Culture is pretty repetitive and basic, so the four foundational principles are all very similar. Thankfully, we are now past that point in our lessons and we can move on to the true guts of this process: creating believable brands.
Today’s lesson is all about fashion.
i.e. creating believable clothing brands and fleshing out what they mean to you.
Fashion is one of the key points that pop culture centers around. Not only that, but clothing serves as a way to separate classes of people, as well as to show off your political and environmental stances. — And that’s before even touching on your character’s style!
Take the time to think about what people on your planet are wearing.
Is there a social caste system where the royals or politicians are dressed to the nines while the general population is forced to craft their own clothes out of hides and fabric scraps - a la Hunger Games style? Or are things on your planet a bit more neutral/ Does everyone wear the exact same thing?
Where do people go shopping on your planet? Do they go to a storefront or do clothes materialize in the closet? How are clothes on your planet manufactured?
Think about it.
Like, really, truly think about it and write down all of your answers in your WBTPC notebook.
Currently, (in 2022) on our planet, we are seeing this sustainability “war” where you can choose to buy a whole new wardrobe for $10 every single week, or you can choose to invest in your closet so that you know your wardrobe wasn’t poorly sourced by spending large sums of money… OR you can land yourself somewhere in between and stay sustainable and budget-friendly by shopping at the thrift stores, which is my favorite option.
When you are world-building through pop culture, this is something that has the possibility of coming up — even if you, as the author, are not a fashion-forward human in your own life.
Let’s think about it another way.
Did you ever wear a school uniform?
You may say, “yes,” or you may say, “no,” based on what type of school you went to and the region in which you live.
I did not grow up going to a school that required uniforms (outside of gym class). However, I was able to appreciate the fact that I didn’t have to because clothing is a form of self-expression.
The clothes one wears are the equivalent of the paint on a house and the landscaping in its yard. They tell you whom you are approaching, and can even deceive you if a high-class person is “slumming it”, or a vagabond has gotten a makeover.
Clothes are the cover that people judge your spiritual book by (before they get to know you); or, in the instance of uniforms, all people judge your soul and your actions instead of getting distracted by your adornments. Wardrobe choices also serve to oppress or display the cultures of the people on your planet.
Most dystopian sci-fi novels I’ve read present the idea of a unified code of attire — gray jumpsuits for example — to help diminish the idea of individuality and is often the cause of inner turmoil for the MC, who usually daydreams of an escape to a freed existence.
There are plenty of ways to spin this, but unless your planet is entirely populated by nudists, you will eventually need to touch on the attire of your people.
And, to take it one step further, depending on how vast your scope is, you may find yourself defining different styles of dress for different cultures across your planet.
So, where do you even begin?
The first step is always going to be defining your planet, your people, and your story. After that, you can decide what kind of brands exist on your planet, their significance to the population, and the story behind them.
In my own work, I namedrop a LOT of brands. And they’re consistent across the board. For example, if FlooZ Wear was a high-profile, highly desired brand on my planet that only elite celebrities wear; I would use FlooZ Wear as a status symbol for my celebrity MCs as well as mention it as a highly desirable brand in a sister series about common folk on the same planet.
But, it doesn’t stop at who wants to wear the brand and who can actually afford it. Creating a realistic culture includes thinking about signature designs, materials used, products in the catalog, and the company’s history and business practices.
(Don’t worry if it sounds like a lot right now, focus on the basics to start. We’ll talk about the history and business practices at the very end when we discuss building your glossary.)
In the example of FlooZ Wear, the questions to answer would look like this:
Who wears the brand?
Who is the brand marketed to?
Do they have a more affordable “ready to wear” line?
Do they market to all genders or just one or the other?
Have they always been a high-class brand?
What do they specialize in? Leather and fur? High-quality organic fiber? Shoes? Timepieces??
How long have they existed?
What does the brand signify for the main character?
What are the signature looks or pieces that the company produces?
The list can go on and on. And as you answer these questions, you may find more questions keep popping up in your brain to help elaborate on these key ideas and transform your two-dimensional words into a nearly tangible product line that your readers will wish existed.
Before we go, let’s talk about research.
I will admit — no one starts out an expert!
As you build your brands, whether that’s fashion, cars, food, cosmetics… it really doesn’t matter what it is you are writing, you WILL need to research.
If you are creating a luxury clothing brand, you will need to know what that means — how luxury fashion houses operate, proper terminology, what separates luxury from bargain designed…
World-Building Through Pop Culture is all about shaping a BELIEVABLE world and urban culture. You simply cannot make things up as you go and call it a day.
What is going to separate you from beginner world builders is your willingness to take new information so that you can present a well-rounded experience for your readers that has a level of depth they never expected possible.
World Building Through Pop Culture with EirianWrites is a monthly world-building segment, centered around building your fantasy world by using the modern world around you, and is written by author, artist, and content creator Eirian Naomi Omid (aka EirianWrites).
Eirian Naomi Omid is a New Adult Fiction Author who specializes in Speculative Literature and Urban Fantasy. She has self-published 6 books, including Note to Self, a book of affirmations written by Goddesses, for Goddesses - which was written by a group of women, each of whom gets paid for their contribution on every copy sold.
Outside of writing, EirianWrites produces a monthly podcast about Goddess Mindset, and a true-weekly YouTube show which breaks down the important mindsets presented in popular lyrics.
You can keep up with everything Eirian Naomi does by visiting her website eirianwrites.wixsite.com/goddess