Fashion is the way in which people present themselves and is defined by clothing, hairstyles, accessories and body adornment. It is a form of semiotic distinction, allowing people to distinguish themselves from other groups, both within and outside of society. Clothing is also used as a status symbol, with the most expensive clothes being associated with social standing and prestige.
The Fashion industry is a major global business, with designers, manufacturers, suppliers and retailers all involved. The design process is highly globalized, with trends often influenced by the music, art and culture of a particular time and place. The clothing itself may be designed in one country, manufactured in another, and then shipped to stores for distribution internationally. Clothing is a reflection of the current cultural climate, with some styles becoming popular due to political events or wars, and others being rejected as unfashionable.
Many aspects of the clothing industry are cyclical, with designers constantly creating and reinventing new looks. The speed at which fashion changes is increasing, due to the accessibility of information and the influence of celebrity culture and media on the general public. This has caused some to question whether the industry is sustainable, as there are concerns that fast-fashion may negatively impact the environment and the quality of clothing produced.
Generally, what is considered to be a fashion is dictated by a relatively small number of influential individuals who create and define the trends that the rest of the world follows. These individuals can be tastemakers or trend-setters, or both. They can be individuals with a high social status, such as celebrities, politicians or royalty, or they can be members of the general public who have an interest in expressing their own style or subculture.
The emergence of a new fashion is often accompanied by the creation of an image for that style, which can be cultivated by the use of publicity and advertising. The success of an individual or group in establishing and maintaining a fashionable image is then measured by their ability to influence the taste and style of other people, and their level of fame and status.
Fashion is a complex phenomenon that influences the lives of all humans. Clothing is the most visible aspect of it, but other factors include personal grooming, food, and exercise, as well as the influence of other individuals, both close and distant, on a person’s tastes and behaviour. For example, a boy wearing green hair and multiple piercings might be perceived as an outsider by some, but be admired by others for his unique style. The same is true for the way that music, art and literature can affect a person’s tastes. These influences can be incorporated into an individual’s style, with some becoming trends that are then copied by others.