Fashion is the style or appearance of clothes, shoes and accessories that characterize a particular period or group of people. It may also refer to a general way of behaving or dressing. The terms fashion, fad and trend usually suggest short-lived changes in attitudes or tastes, whereas style and vogue denote lasting trends. The term is broadly used in English-speaking countries, but has a broader meaning in other languages.
It is generally assumed that changes in fashion reflect societal change and that the business of fashion is driven by commercial interests. However, recent research shows that changes in fashion can occur independently of both societal and commercial influences. For example, some changes in fashion seem to be generated by internal taste mechanisms, rather than being the result of deliberate efforts on the part of designers and manufacturers.
The current fashion system favours financial and socio-cultural capital over human and natural capital. This has created a culture of post-truth where fashion is mediated in reductive and glamorous ways – a bright cellophane wrapper. This has resulted in a proliferation of coverage, discussion and study of fashion – ‘looking inside the wrapper’.
One of the earliest forms of fashion was the use of different types of cloths to distinguish members of a group or community. Clothing could be a status symbol, a way to express creativity and individuality or simply to be comfortable. It could even be used to signify a specific era such as the Roaring 20s or the Gloom of Great Depression.
The clothing industry, or the fashion industry, is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise devoted to making and selling garments. The industry is divided into several sectors including haute couture, high street and mass market. These sectors differ from one another in terms of quality, design and price. For example, a designer label is typically associated with higher quality clothing than the average store-brand product, while a high street brand is typically regarded as less expensive and more accessible to the consumer.
As a result of fast-changing societal and business influences, the fashion industry can be unpredictable. This can make it difficult to predict how long a particular style will remain in popularity. For this reason, many stores are moving toward a “see now, buy now” model where they stock the latest styles right after they appear on the runway.
In addition to the varying preferences of individuals, fashion is also influenced by social classes, gender, age and occupation. For example, certain types of clothing are considered more fashionable for men than women. This is often referred to as gendered fashion. In some cultures, it is considered inappropriate to dress in a masculine manner for women. In other cultures, it is considered unseemly for men to dress in feminine clothing.
Fashion is a way of life for most people, and it can influence how they live and feel. It can be a source of pride or shame, depending on how much an individual embraces and follows the latest trends. While some people slavishly follow the latest fashions, others prefer to keep their taste independent of the fashions they see around them.