Fashion is the prevailing style or taste in a particular time or place. It encompasses the design, manufacture, marketing and retailing of clothing – for men, women and children. It is a highly influential global industry with a significant influence on culture and society.
A mirror of our times, fashion has the unique power to absorb social change and transform it into a aesthetic expression. Clothes have never been merely functional, for example, in the 13th century, the formal dress represented wealth and power, while a miniskirt embodied liberation and feminism or nun’s cassocks renunciated vanity. They also transmit and receive information about gender, age and social class.
Trends in fashion may be created when high-profile people like politicians or celebrities wear a certain style that others then copy. Or they may emerge from a particular group, for example, goths, skaters or preps. These groups have their own names and distinctive styles which deliver a message of belonging and separation.
The direction of fashion is difficult to predict as it depends on the sensitivity of plugged-in individuals who react to events, trends in music, art and literature. It also depends on the marketing tactics of big conglomerates who decide what will be in style at any given moment. However, for most people fashion is more about self-expression and a way to communicate. It can be an understated whisper, a scream or an all-knowing wink and smile. Whatever the communication is, it has to be true to the individual.