What is Fashion?


Fashion is a general term for the changes in clothing styles over time. These changes may be caused by social, economic and political factors. Fashion also varies by age, gender, occupation and geography. The style of a man’s suit or hat, for example, can be influenced by the military. In the past, fashion changes were often triggered by new discoveries or by travel. For example, Albrecht Durer’s drawings contrast a well-dressed bourgeoise from Nuremberg with her Venetian counterpart. Today, changes in fashion are often prompted by marketing campaigns by clothing companies. Such trends can be good or bad, depending on how they are used. In the past, shifts in clothing trends sometimes helped to unite different cultures. However, if people follow trends for the sake of money and do not think about how their choices impact the environment, then this can be harmful.

Fashion is inherently a social phenomenon, because for there to be fashion, there needs to be dissemination and followers. Fashion can be seen in the way musicians and other cultural icons wear clothes, in the way that magazines report on the dresses worn by politicians or royalty, or even in the way that popular sit-coms show fashions that seem to come and go (the bare midriffs of 90210, for example, quickly faded into the baggy jeans of the 1990s). Fashion is also found in the way that people dress as a form of self-expression; it can speak loudly or quietly, and can be interpreted as a status symbol or a rejection of society’s conventions.