The Concept of Fashion

Fashion is the embodied expression of an individual’s cultural identity. It is the result of a combination of clothing, footwear and accessories that form distinctive ways of dressing (styles and trends) as signifiers of social status, self-expression, and group belonging. The ephemeral nature of the style of dress that comes and goes with each passing season means that fashion is, by definition, a process of continual, accelerating change.

The concept of fashion has become multifaceted and encompassing, as the term is now used to describe not only the ever-shifting styles that are worn, but also the entire industry that creates them, including design, production, and marketing. The global fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar enterprise and a highly influential sociocultural phenomenon.

In the past, as in the present, the appearance of new clothes was a way for individuals to signal their social status and to identify themselves with specific groups. For example, wealthy Roman senators wore garments dyed Tyrian purple, while Hawaiian high-ranking officials wore feather cloaks made from carved whale teeth.

Fashions are constantly changing, and it is impossible to keep up with all the latest styles. Nonetheless, there are always some trends that are more popular than others and which remain in the market longer. These fashions are usually based on the latest whims of designers, celebrities, and other public figures. These changes are then followed by ordinary consumers, and the popularity of these fads determines what will be fashionable in the future.

Many people believe that fashions reflect societal changes and/or the financial interests of manufacturers and retailers, but recent research suggests that internal taste mechanisms may drive changes in fashion even in the absence of significant social shifts. For example, people are known to change their names for aesthetic reasons irrespective of whether they are married or single, and children often name themselves after their favourite television show character or celebrity.

The appearance of a particular style is often influenced by the media, and a great deal of the information about fashion that we see today is presented in glossy magazines, on television and on fashion websites or on TikTok videos. These images are brightly wrapped in cellophane wrappers, and the stories behind them — the lives of its makers and their products, their supply chain, their environmental impacts — are written out of the narrative.

It takes time to develop a sense of style that reflects who you are, and everyone goes through an experimentation phase in which they wear all kinds of different outfits. This is the best way to learn what looks good on you. Use your everyday environment as a lab: sit in a cafe and watch the people coming and going, look at pictures of other people in their everyday clothes, or just go into shops to try on a lot of stuff. Then, make mental or actual notes about what you like and don’t like. Repeat this process over and over until you find your style.