Fashion in gentrifying urban spaces : The case of the Fashion Quarter in Klarendal, Arnhem

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As indicated in the title, this thesis concerns gentrification in relation to fashion. The object of research was to find the role of fashion (as part of a growing symbolic economy) in the gentrifying urban space of Klarendal and relate it to Arnhem’s wider social and economic policies. Going beyond the city scale, we included in our research the factors of economic creativity and urban attractiveness as global tendencies. This topic was chosen because there is a gap in the literature regarding the connection of fashion and gentrification, even though many scholars (like Zukin) have approached the issue of fashion markets and transforming urban spaces. In this thesis we measured the presence of fashion in the neighborhood and parameterized its impact. After realizing fashion’s real presence and importance, we researched the ways it facilitates gentrification in Klarendal. The methods used were a combination of quantitative and qualitative research; that is, because we sought for a holistic approach in order to place Klarendal’s gentrification in a wider context. Primary sources included long semi-structured interviews, short structured interviews and observation. Secondary sources included municipal statistical data, policy documents and various texts and articles from newspapers and magazines. From those sources we conducted data analysis and discourse analysis. It was found that gentrification is implemented as a generalized urban policy, which in conjunction with city branding shaped Klarendal as it is today. Fashion functioned as an indictation of gentrification’s visual representation, and through fashion the changing of Klarendal’s aesthetics and identity was justified and facilitated. The findings are important because we pointed out the importance of aesthetics in gentrification and its practical implementation and we clarified the role of fashion in urban space as an economic activity, a vehicle to livability, a status enhancer and a creativity stimulator.
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