What Is Fashion?

Fashion is a mode of expression in the form of clothing, body adornment or lifestyle that changes over time within a culture. This change can occur from the top down (designers, stylists), from the bottom up through consumer influence (“trickle down”), or from cross-cultural or global dissemination through media or viral memes. Fashion can also refer to the styles or designs of specific garments and accessories, such as shoes, handbags, and jewellery.

Fashion has a significant role in society as it allows people to express their personalities or sympathies, such as in the case of the miniskirt, which symbolized feminism and liberation for women. Clothes can also reflect social class, as seen in the case of aristocratic fashion trends or the use of expensive materials like silk or lace to show wealth and status. In addition, fashions can have symbolic meaning, such as the cassock worn by nuns that represents renunciation of vanity.

The word “fashion” can also refer to a prevailing style, as the term “fashionable” means being in line with the latest developments. Conversely, the word may also imply that something is out of date, and therefore no longer in style. However, this is not always the case; sometimes styles that were previously considered to be out of date can resurface at some point in the future.

To be considered a fashion, a style must have a certain level of popularity and wide spread use in a particular culture. This popularity and wide spread use can be achieved either through the top down (designers, models), bottom up through consumer influence (“trickle down”) or from cross-cultural or global dissemination through mass media and viral memes (“bubble up”).

In modern times, clothes that are considered to be of high fashion may be very expensive and only available in a few stores. In contrast, cheaper clothes that are in the midst of a fashion trend can be sold at many different outlets. This contrast in availability is often used to differentiate between high fashion and mass-produced clothes, known as “fast fashion.”

Fashion trends can be influenced by cultural or social events, such as new discoveries of exotic countries. This can result in a shift in the preference of a particular textile or type of garment. For example, European fashions in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries often included elements of Turkish, Chinese and Japanese influence.

A person’s choice of dress can have a profound impact on their image and self-image. They can also be a symbol of the social or political movement they support, as is often the case with the use of certain garments by the AIDS community. Fashion also has the power to absorb and reflect social changes, transforming them into aesthetic forms as in the case of the Mao suits worn by the Chinese. Therefore, despite the fact that fashion is essentially a subjective concept, it can also be used to objectively judge the changes in social and cultural values of a society.