Fashion is a cultural phenomenon that can be seen in almost every aspect of our lives. From clothes to cars, architecture, food and even the way we live, everything can be shaped by what is considered fashionable at a given time.
What is considered fashion depends on a lot of factors, including the designer, the fabric, the cut, the colour, and so on. But there is also the subjective element of what appeals to a particular consumer, which may differ significantly from another person’s taste. Fashion also tends to be influenced by social and historical context, with some trends lasting longer than others.
The term ‘fashion’ can be used to describe any trend in clothing, accessories, and behaviour that is popular at a particular point in time. It can also refer to a style that has been around for some time and is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, such as denim jeans or the thong sandal. Fashion also encompasses the idea of personal style, which can be seen in the way a person dresses and what accessories they choose to wear.
The word is also associated with the way in which a certain designer or brand produces their products, with some being more successful at creating and maintaining trends than others. This is often a result of the marketing tactics employed by larger fashion companies, which seek to create new demand by establishing a trend and then flooding the market with similar designs in order to maximise profits. This practice can also be viewed as an abuse of intellectual property rights, with some designers arguing that the stealing of their ideas and unique design features by large conglomerates is what has made it so difficult to break into the fashion industry in recent years.
Aside from a desire to be unique and stand out from the crowd, there are other reasons why people adopt and follow fashion trends. These can include a desire to fit in, express their individuality, or to communicate specific messages and meanings. For example, wearing a suit can communicate power, formality and professionalism, while ripped jeans and a t-shirt can symbolise casualness and youthfulness. Fashion can also be a way of expressing political or social activism, as seen in the protest T-shirts worn by members of the hijab community.
In semiotics, fashion is seen as a form of signification, with the garment itself acting as a type of text that conveys messages to the viewer through its shape, colour and materiality. The symbolic meaning of a fashion item can also vary across different cultures and historical contexts, with some garments containing more significance than others. The iconic kimono, for example, has become synonymous with Japan’s culture of elegance and refinement despite only having minor changes in design over centuries.