Fashion is the prevailing style of dress or appearance at any given time. It can also refer to the design and manufacture of clothing and accessories. Whether it is high-end designer clothes worn on the runways of Paris or New York, or mass-produced styles found in malls and markets around the world, there are many aspects to this multibillion dollar industry that create and promote trends and change.
In addition to its role as a mirror of society, fashion can be a medium for self-expression and for revealing one’s personality. This is evident in the way people wear their clothes – a simple change in a hairstyle, for example, can reflect a person’s mood or the way they want to be perceived. A change in wardrobe can also indicate that a person is moving from one job or relationship to another, or that they are in mourning for someone or something.
People have always been influenced by the fashions of those around them, and this is evidenced in the fact that many different societies have their own distinctive clothing styles. These influences can be as small as changing the style of shoes or the colour of a jacket. They can also be as significant as altering the length of a skirt or the width of a collar. The fashions that are popular in a society at any given moment can often be traced back to other eras, which can explain why some styles seem to reappear from time to time.
Throughout history, fashion has been seen as a reflection of the current social and economic conditions, which has led to a number of theories about its influence. These include trickle-down theory, which argues that individuals of higher socioeconomic status set the fashions and that those with lower status follow them. Other theories suggest that the fashions are influenced by popular culture or that they are determined by the individual’s sense of taste.
The fashion industry is also known for its emphasis on style, which can be seen in the way designers promote their collections through runway shows and magazine ads. This can be seen as an attempt to appeal to the public’s desire for the latest and greatest styles, and it can lead to consumerism on a grand scale. However, many social critics have argued that the way that the industry exploits and encourages this trend towards materialistic consumption can be detrimental to society.
The way that the fashion industry operates is complex, and the current system favours financial and socio-cultural capital over human and natural capital. As a result, it privileges symbolic capital and the non-tangible – the bright cellophane wrappers that are on display in shops and magazines and which we are all becoming increasingly used to seeing as fashion.