For business administration major, Alejandra Rodriguez ’14, dressing differently from the mainstream has always been a way of life. She remembers sometimes being teased for her clothing choices, but now this fashionista is using her unique taste to conduct a study on the motivations behind vintage clothing consumption.
“As I grew up, it seemed like people began to appreciate my uniqueness,” says Rodriguez. “I still think it’s interesting that people consider me fashionable.”
Rodriguez is a business honors student with an emphasis in entertainment and tourism management and a minor in mathematics for teaching. Through her research project, she has studied consumer behavior and what motivates college students to buy vintage clothing at thrift shops.
The idea for this research was sparked in her freshman year at Cal State Fullerton. Thrift shopping had become a huge part of her life, and she was overjoyed when she found items that fit her perfectly and cost $5 or less.
“I used to feel a bit ashamed for buying second-hand clothing,” says Rodriguez. “After a while, I had a different perspective on this type of fashion when I realized more of my friends were doing it.”
Through qualitative research involving primary interviews with 12 vintage clothing shoppers, Rodriguez found that students feel a sense of discovery and independence. She found that they acquire cultural capital when thrift shopping. She has conducted and recorded interviews, which she later transcribed and kept track of using Dedoose.com.
“I wanted to dig deeper to learn about this new type of shopper,” she says. “I want to know what got them started and why they keep doing it.”
She found that these consumers are not buying used clothing solely because they lack funds but because it has become a chic trend. Rodriguez says it is interesting that many of these individuals were required to wear uniforms when they were younger, and shopping at thrift shops provided a form of self-discovery.
This research serves as a requirement for the University Honors Program, and her work specifically contributes to fashion literature, but it also provides answers to questions Rodriguez has had about one of her favorite pastimes for years.
Rodriguez has been mentored by Marketing Professor Steven Chen. She describes him as the best mentor anyone could ever ask for. When she started the project she felt a bit discouraged, because she pitched her idea to multiple marketing professors, and they did not understand where she was coming from. But she and Professor Chen clicked right away, and he assigned her literature reviews on the topic.
“We were on the same page, and we both enjoy dressing uniquely and being different,” Rodriguez says. “He helped me with the protocol, interviewing techniques, how to interpret data and the overall organization of the project.”
Rodriguez has hopes of enrolling in an MBA program and continuing work in the entertainment industry. She is currently interning for Paramount, a major motion picture studio, and she says she really enjoys the environment she works in. She hopes to work in the film or music industry in a management position. Rodriquez also enjoys math and working with young people and tutored math and Spanish for her first two years of college. She eventually wants to be a business college professor preferably in the business media sector.
In the future, Rodriguez would like to pursue other research projects.
“I would like to continue doing research but focus on the entertainment field,” she says. “I want to research consumer preferences for film and industry trends.”