What Is Fashion?
Fashion is a prevailing style of dress or other cultural expression. The word may also refer to a particular period of change in a garment’s appearance, such as the length of a skirt. A person’s wardrobe can reveal information about their culture, social class, or time of life. In addition to clothing, fashion includes accessories and other items that can enhance one’s look. The fashion industry is large and diverse. It includes everything from designers, fashion houses, and manufacturers of clothing to those who write about or analyze fashion trends.
Before the 1800s, people had to scour the land for wool or leather, prepare it, weave it, and then make clothes by hand. Then the Industrial Revolution brought new technology—like sewing machines. It made it much faster and cheaper to make clothes, and fashion moved at a much quicker pace. Clothes could be mass-produced and marketed to the masses, which meant that a new trend was much more likely to spread than in previous eras.
The clothing business is a huge multi-billion dollar global industry, and changes in fashions are almost as rapid as the Internet can transmit them. A fashion item that makes the rounds on the runway and in celebrity media is likely to be available in stores within months.
Some styles are more popular than others, and the popularity of an item will often determine if it is “in fashion” or not. However, even a style that is considered out of fashion can return to prominence at a later date.
It is important for writers to be aware of the current fashions in their worlds. Not only can this help in creating a more authentic atmosphere, but it can also be useful for character development. For example, if an older woman dresses in the latest “hip” styles, it can give readers an indication of her personality and beliefs. Conversely, if an adolescent boy dresses in girl’s clothing, it can signal that the child is attempting to become more feminine.
Fashions vary by region, but there are a few global manufacturers that produce innovative high-fashion apparel. These are known as haute couture. The French term literally means ‘custom made’, and these clothes are often made for models and celebrities. A smaller number of manufacturers specialize in mid-priced apparel, which they produce several times a year. These companies usually employ dedicated design teams to plan the product lines and create prototypes. Often, they outsource the production and manufacturing of the actual garments to other companies or contractors. The majority of the world’s garments are produced in developing countries. Some of these producers are “fast fashion” companies, which have the ability to turn designs and patterns into ready-to-wear garments at a much quicker rate than their more sophisticated competitors. This allows them to stay competitive with the high-end designers and retailers. These companies also tend to use more advanced fabrics and production techniques.