Fashion is a cultural phenomenon that is ever-changing, reflecting and delivering on society’s desires. With a global scope, it is often influenced by technological shifts and sustainability concerns. As a form of self-expression, fashion has also historically reflected individuality and solidarity with groups.
Throughout history, trends in clothing have evolved and shifted at a faster pace than culture as a whole. The modern Western world is no exception. With the rise of mass production, the development of ready-to-wear and haute couture lines, as well as a proliferation of TV shows dedicated to fashion, consumers have a wider range of choices than ever before.
While many think that changes in the styles of clothing and accessories primarily reflect societal change, researchers have found that there are also “internal taste mechanisms” that drive fashion trends. This has been illustrated by a study on the choice of first names for children, which showed that while marketers may promote certain names for girls and boys, there are no commercial interests behind the selection of names like Rebecca or Zoe.
The term “fashion” is derived from the French phrase, “la mode,” meaning “the way we dress” or, more generally, the appearance of things. During the fourteenth century, there began a rapid shift in European clothing style trends that could be attributed to new discoveries and the emergence of democracy and industrialization. During this time, the popularity of clothes that were both functional and stylish increased. The trend towards a shortening of the male over-garment from calf length to barely covering the buttocks can be traced back to this era.
In the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, changes in clothing and accessory style were driven by the emergence of various countercultures. The styles of punk, Y2K, and goth helped to create new aesthetics that have influenced the design of contemporary fashions. Designers now search the world for new motifs, patterns, colors and materials to incorporate into their designs.
Fashion has a wide-reaching impact in terms of the economy, both globally and locally. The industry provides employment to a vast network of designers, manufacturers, retailers, and others, making it one of the world’s most significant economic contributors. It also plays a vital role in the promotion of international trade and tourism, as tourists seek out to experience and be seen in the latest styles.
Regardless of its social and political influence, fashion is an omnipresent part of the human experience. It can be viewed in print and electronic media, TV and movies, music, advertising hoardings, and in the way people walk down the street or shop at their favorite stores. People of all ages and classes are exposed to fashion in some way, and it is therefore important that they understand the basics of the industry. This can help them to avoid being a walking fashion disaster.