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The Role of Fairs in the Development and Division of Fields - CPH Kids and Danish Children's Fashion

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During the Copenhagen Fashion Week A/W 2010, CPH Kids opened as the firstindependent trade fair for children’s clothing. Despite considerable resistance, the fairmanaged to establish itself and challenge the established order by providing a venuedevoted fully to children’s clothing and luring away exhibitors and visitors looking forchange. In this paper, we analyze the dynamic development and distinctive traits of thechildren’s clothing sector symbolized at the new fair. Our study contributes to inquiryinto the role of fairs and festivals in the creative industries by examining the special case ofcoinciding, competing trade fairs. We introduce and build on three closely related, but inour view complementary, concepts applied and developed in analyses of festivals, tradeshows and other kinds of temporary, usually competitive events, namely tournamentrituals, field configuring events and tournaments of value. We establish the commonground of the three approaches, particular their assertion of the rich research potential andvital significance of festivals, fairs and similar events for many fields, whether deemedcreative or not. We also single out particular strengths of each approach, which inform ourinquiry. They review of theory, points to how existing work has explored fairs as arenas ofconflict between exhibitors as well as the rivalry between events separated in time and/orplace. In our case, we demonstrate how the emergence of a rival fair both incites andexposes division or segmentation of a field. This observation in our view, challengesprevailing understandings of the relationship between fields and the events, we assumerepresent and shape them. We argue that it is more complicated than extant theorysuggests, and this has implications for the analysis of the fairs and to their role inconfiguring field. We raise questions about the precise manner in and extent to whichevents configure field, and point to the agency of event organizers, the fair context and thefair as medium as factors that need to be factored in.The reflections on the field configuring capacity of fairs and similar event, inform ourexplorations of Danish childrenswear. Following the tournament of value-approach, weplace values – more specifically how different values are affirmed and negotiated at thefairs – at the center of our analysis. The approach suggests, that symbolic value, andultimately the (economic) value exchange value, of cultural products are establishedthrough judgments of their technical/material, social, situational, appreciative and utilityvalues. However, we do not focus as much on specific evaluative practices in the field, asthe cultural values and norms around which childhood is constructed. These values arevital for the field of children’s clothing, so we address contemporary concerns aboutchildhood placing a particular emphasis on the Nordic context with its the notion of “thecompetent child”. While our analysis only offers only selected snapshots of the manyactivities at the two fairs, we have pointed to some of the ways in which positions arestaked, values are addressed, forms of capital built and exchanged, and different fieldconfiguring mechanisms operate. We conclude, that while further research is required togauge the field configuring impact of CPH Kids and explore the values, identities andstructures of Danish children’s fashion in more depth, our investigation points to the fielddividing impact that fairs might have.

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Fabian Faurholt Csaba, Frederik Larsen

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Resource language

eng

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application/pdf

Resource resource URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10398/8254

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