Fashion is a societal phenomenon that involves people’s choice of clothing and adornment. When a style is accepted by a large group of individuals over a fairly long period of time it can be described as “fashion.” The emergence and adoption of a fashion usually begins with a person or small group of people deciding to follow the latest trends. Fashion can also be viewed as a style of dressing influenced by an individual’s social status or other cultural factors.
Fashion changes rapidly. New styles appear and become popular, while old ones fade away into oblivion. This rapid change is fueled by an ever-changing environment and the need for people to stay abreast of current events. Fashions can vary significantly within a society according to age, social class, generation and occupation as well as between genders and over time. For example, young people tend to have different fashion preferences than older people. In addition, a certain style can be considered to be more fashionable in one part of the world than another.
People often copy the clothing choices of their favorite celebrities and other well-known people. However, nowadays it is more likely that a person’s fashion choices are a reflection of their own personality and character rather than a desire to emulate others.
The development of the fashion industry accelerated in the modern era with the advent of faster modes of transport and the industrialization of production. The world’s fashion capitals can be identified as Paris for Haute Couture and street style; London for its blend of creativity linked to fashion and conservatism; New York for its accessible fashion, especially its low-cost mass-market products and high-end luxury goods; Milan for its color palette and long tradition of leather goods; and Jakarta for its fusion of Asian cultures and influences.
As the globalization of the fashion industry continues, many designers have taken a political stance by using their platforms and influence to promote specific causes. This has led to criticism of the fashion industry for being elitist, promoting a particular lifestyle or cultural values and excluding other viewpoints.
In the past, the discovery of exotic, lesser-known parts of the world could provide an impetus to change fashions. For instance, Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries might favor things Turkish at a given time, Chinese at another and Japanese at yet another. However, globalization has reduced the number of available options for exotic novelty.
As with any other form of cultural expression, the definition of “fashion” is constantly changing and evolving. The fashion industry is highly competitive and ruthless in its pursuit of profit. For this reason, it is difficult to identify a single definition of fashion that can encompass the diversity of its practitioners and the broad range of its followers. However, for something to be considered a fashion, it must be widely followed and admired, as well as being relatively changeable over a short period of time. Fashions can be expected to repeat themselves – once a style becomes popular, it will likely eventually fade out and then reappear.