What Is Fashion?

Fashion is a multi-billion dollar global industry. Millions of people design, sew, glue, dye and transport clothing to stores. Advertisements on buses, billboards and magazines offer ideas of what to wear. Fashion is a source of identity, tradition (jury members wear robes, soldiers wear uniforms, brides wear long white dresses), and entertainment. People change their style often, especially during adolescence when they are trying to figure out who they are. Fashion is also a mirror to society, reflecting cultural and social dynamics. New discoveries in other parts of the world can change what is considered fashionable.

In a positive sense, fashions reflect a society’s notions of beauty and goodness. They can also be a vehicle for political statements or a way to promote a particular lifestyle. In a negative sense, trends in fashion can lead to materialism and narcissism. People who slavishly follow current fashions are called “fashionistas” or “fashion victims.” Fashions can vary considerably within a society, depending on age, social class, generation, occupation, and geography.