SecureId :: knowledge

One of the best ways in which fashion conveys identity is through a knowledge scheme. Identity access through fashion knowledge has been most notably utilized by queer communities (including both the LGBT and BDSM communities). Because a queer identity is often socially unacceptable or illegal and because such an identity is not written on one's body, queer individuals often turned to fashion to mark their identity so that only other queer individuals would recognize the markers. Hanky codes, the most elaborate of the schemes, uses cloth markers in different pockets to express what type of sexual play an individual likes. Throughout history, a wide variety of symbols have been used to indicate one's sexuality, including pinky rings (women), right ear earrings (men), green carnations, pink triangles, and rainbows. Although these symbols are easily recognizable by other queer individuals, the majority of the population did not know what they meant. As such, knowledge of the symbolism meant an understanding of one's sexuality. Without such knowledge, the symbol is meaningless and just appears innocuous.

Many subcultures use fashion to indicate participation. By wearing associated symbols, the individual not only links hirself to that subculture, but also to its values. The public awareness and connotations of these fashion markers ranges over time and location. Depending on the viewer's values and recognition of the marker, entirely different meanings can be derived. Tie-dyed clothing, band t-shirts, black cloaks, and lip piercings are all examples of markers used by individuals to associate themselves with a subculture. Often, individuals use these markers to attract other members of the same subculture. Because subcultures have certain values, these markers provide a good cue for individuals seeking to meet strangers with similar interests; they also provide an appropriate conversation starter. In this way, fashion operates as a context for people to converge. By recognizing and responding to the fashion codes, individuals are able to use knowledge to not only access something about an individual's identity but to bridge a social gap.

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