Fashion is a multifaceted term that describes not only the clothing, footwear and accessories made by the fashion industry, but also cultural aesthetics and trends. It may seem like there is a clear distinction between the designer fashions displayed on runways in Paris and New York and the mass-produced styles sold at malls and markets around the world, but the lines are often blurred. The newest trends are often influenced by the past, which is why so many people consider history to be a foundation for the future of fashion.
Fashion has been a reflection of social dynamics for thousands of years. It has been a tool for self-expression and it has also provided a way for individuals to connect with each other. Whether it is a subtle whisper, a high-energy scream or an all knowing wink and smile, fashion speaks in all different ways. It can be a fashion that defines the style of your outfit, or one that dictates how you interact with others.
Throughout the centuries, fashion has transformed to accommodate changing tastes, technology, and available materials. It has also adapted to the needs of a society and its economy. The fashion industry is a multibillion dollar global enterprise and it has become a significant influence on the world.
The word “fashion” comes from the Latin word favorite, meaning “to favor.” As a fashion, it is what is currently popular among those who are plugged into culture, the media, and public figures. The newest styles are often influenced by what is seen on television shows such as 90210 or the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or what celebrities and sports stars are wearing. These fads can sometimes be as short-lived as the popularity of bell-bottom jeans or as long-lasting as the elegant dresses of the eighteenth century.
Some fashions are as elusive as the names of some of the characters in sitcoms: how did bare midriffs and athletic clothes make it from the streets to the runways, or how did the baggy look evolve from the 1980s into the designer jeans and boots look of the 1990s? Other fashions are more easily traceable. The favored styles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries largely reflected the discoveries of exotic, lesser-known parts of the world.
The process by which a fashion becomes a trend is complex and involves the interaction of several factors. In the earliest stage of innovation, designers and fashion leaders create new styles and fashion journalists spread the word through magazines, newspapers, and television shows. These fashion trends are then adopted by a group of consumers known as early adopters, who often include those who are viewed as tastemakers or influencers. Later, the style may be copied by a larger group of people who are referred to as late adopters. Eventually, the style reaches the point of saturation and disappears from the market. However, similar styles may reappear in a new form and start a new trend.