What is Fashion?


Fashion is a global industry and a complex socio-cultural phenomenon. It reaches beyond clothing to encompass accessories, shoes, jewelry and the way people speak and behave.

The fashion industry is highly competitive, and trends are constantly changing. New technology and consumer demands make it possible to create, design and sell clothes in a matter of days. In the past, it was a labor-intensive process to source and prepare raw materials and to sew them into garments. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and new technologies like the sewing machine, fashion became quicker and easier to produce. Professional designers emerged, and the era of mass production began.

In addition to its role as a source of inspiration for designers and consumers, fashion has become an important indicator of the economic climate and social change. It is a form of identity, a symbolic system that represents and reflects the values of a society. The term “fashion” is also used to describe a particular style, especially among those of high cultural status, such as the “trickle-down” theory of fashion, which holds that lower-class people follow the styles of their higher-class peers.

There is a large and growing body of work on fashion, from critiques that divide it into good and bad, to ethical analyses of the business model, to sociological studies of consumption and production. Contemporary fashion is constructed as ‘new’ through what is said and done – in words, images, the way it is staged in shows and shops, the visual and verbal narratives that accompany it. The everchanging, perfect and auratic products on display in shops and represented in magazines obscure their origins, ingredients and makers – emphasising instead their sign value.