Dress, transformation and conformity in the heavy rock subculture

Christina Goulding, Damien Chaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
451 Downloads (Pure)


While the relationship between clothing and the construction of identity has received considerable attention, less attention has been given to identity shifts through acts of consumption. This paper explores the role of dress in a ritual experience during which consumers temporarily shift from one identity mode to another. The qualitative study conducted at two heavy rock music festivals shows that consumers use dress to transform themselves physically which in turn facilitates escape from everyday life. Through this transformation participants gradually enter the ritual community where a leveling process occurs based on difference from the mainstream, but paradoxically, strict conformity and adherence to the codes of dress and behavior of the festival group. This uniformity acts as a collective ‘disguise’ which breaks down barriers and allows individuals to participate in expressive, more primal behaviors which act as a temporary release before a return to the mundane.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date5 Aug 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2015


  • transformation, ritual, extraordinary consumption, rock festivals


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