Repository logo

Fashioning meaning: the graphic t-shirts of Butan Wear and Magents Lifestyle Apparel as alternative forms of socio-cultural communication about South African collective identities.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation explores the socio-cultural communication properties of the Butan Wear and Magents Lifestyle Apparel graphic t-shirts. As a study located in the field of communication and informed by Cultural Studies, this research argues that the study of the creation of clothing reveals meaning about the collective identities who use certain clothing styles to express their identities. This research defines fashion as the creation of clothing styles that are reflective of the cultural narratives of certain collective identities (Barnard, 1996; Kawamura, 2005; Jackson, 2006; Mitchell et al., 2012). It contextualises fashion design as communicative tool used by designers to convey knowledge about the lived reality of their target market (Crane, 1999; Gick and Gick, 2007; Kazmierczak, 2013). Qualitative in nature, Fashioning Meaning, as the title suggest, is concerned with the meaning making process and is framed by inductive reasoning, which focuses on the process of the creation of meaning (du Plooy, 2007). It employs a qualitative content analysis that utilises semiotics as an interpretive tool for the analysis of the Butan Wear and Magents Lifestyle Apparel t-shirts (Chandler, 1994; du Plooy, 2007; Fourie, 2009). Semiotics as an interpretive tool is utilised to uncover the latent meanings of the four graphic t-shirts under analysis (Fiske, 1990; Chandler, 2007). Semiotic theory further serves as a theoretical framework alongside the Encoding/Decoding model (Hall, 2006; [1980]) and the Circuit of Culture model (du Gay et al., 1997). Using the Circuit of Culture interrelated moments of production, consumption, representation and identity (du Gay et al., 1997); this research interprets the aesthetics of Butan Wear and Magents Lifestyle Apparel graphic t-shirts as a form of text. The Encoding/Decoding model serves as a further interpretive and theoretical framework for the analysis of the encoding processes utilised by the above-mentioned fashion brands under analysis (2006; [1980])


Master of Social Sciences in Centre for Communication, Media and Society. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.