What Is Fashion and How Does It Affect Society?


Fashion is a global multi-billion industry that involves much more than clothing. It is a form of style and trends influenced by art, culture, and social and political change that can be shown up through the use of footwear, accessories, and jewelry among other things. It also includes the design, production, and retail of these styles and trends. Fashion can be seen as a way to communicate identity, status, and group affiliation through the use of unique apparel.

Like any other cultural phenomenon, fashion has different theories that explain its cyclical nature. One of these theories, the trickle-down theory, explains that individuals of higher socioeconomic status set the trends that lower classes follow. This concept can be applied to anything from clothing, food, and even music.

As a result, fashion has a powerful influence over society because it can be used as an identity marker, a way to express beliefs and values, or as a tool for social control. In the past, specialized clothing was worn to show status; for example, Roman senators could wear garments dyed Tyrian purple and royalty in other countries wore garments made from expensive materials and carved whale teeth. Nowadays, a miniskirt can symbolize freedom, emancipation, and women’s rights to their bodies. Other items of clothing can hold symbolism such as the cassocks and robes worn by nuns and monks.

It is important to note that in order for something to be considered fashionable it needs to have both dissemination and followers. This can be done through gatekeepers, such as those in the fashion industry, or more subversively through viral media and memes. It is also important to remember that trends have a life cycle and as they reach the end of their lifespan, they fall out of fashion, becoming obsolete or considered old.