FashionA fashion consists of a current (constantly changing) trend, favoured for frivolous rather than logical or intellectual reasons. Although frequently applying to clothes and to other aspects of appearance, the concept of "fashion" can apply to music, art, politics and even mathematics and the choice of programming techniques, and economic trends such as those studied in behavioral finance. Fashion exists in the interstices of aesthetics with innovation.
Fashion and Variation
Fashion in clothes has allowed wearers to express emotion or solidarity with other people for millennia. Modern Westernerserners have a wide choice available in the selection of their clothes. What a person chooses to wear can reflect their personality or likes. When people who have cultural status start to wear new or different clothes a fashion trend may start; people who like or respect them may start to wear clothes of a similar style.
Fashions may vary significantly within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation and geography as well as over time. If, for example, an older person dresses according to the fashion of young people, he or she may look ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people. The term "fashion victim" refers to someone who slavishly follows the current fashions (implementations of fashion)..
One can regard the system of sporting various fashions as a fashion language incorporating various fashion statements using a grammar of fashion. (Compare some of the work of Roland Barthes.)
Fashion and the Process of Change
Fashion, by definition, changes constantly. The change may proceed more rapidly than in most other fields of human activity (language, thought, etc). For some, modern fast-paced change in fashion embodies many of the negative aspects of capitalism: it results in waste and encourages people qua consumers to buy things unnecessarily. Others, especially young people, enjoy the diversity that changing fashion can apparently provide, seeing the constant change as a way to satisfy their desire to experience "new" and "interesting" things. Note too though that fashion can change to enforce uniformity, as in the case where so-called Mao suits became the national uniform of Mainland China.
Materially affluent societies can offer a variety of different fashions, in clothes or accessories, to choose from. At the same time there remains an equal or larger range designated (at least currently) 'out of fashion'. (These or similar fashions may cyclically come back 'into fashion' in due course, and remain 'in fashion' again for a while.)
Practically every aspect of appearance that can be changed has been changed at some time. In the past, new discoveries and lesser-known parts of the world could provide an impetus to change fashions based on the exotic: Europe in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, for example, might favour things Turkish at one time, things Chinese at another, and things Japanese at a third. The global village has reduced the options of exotic novelty in more recent times.
Fashion houses and their associated fashion designers, as well as high-status consumers (including celebrities), appear to have some role in determining the rates and directions of fashion change.
Fashion and Status
Fashion can suggest or signal status in a social group. Groups with high cultural status like to keep 'in fashion' to display their position; people who do not keep 'in fashion' within a so-called "style tribe" can risk shunning (see also peer pressure). Because keeping 'in fashion' often requires considerable amounts of money, fashion can be used to show off wealth (compare conspicuous consumption). Adherence to fashion trends can thus form an index of social affluence and an indicator of social mobility.
Fashion can help attract a partner. As well as showing certain features of a person's personality that appeal to prospective mates, keeping up with fashion can advertise a person's status to such candidates.
"Fashion sense" consists of the ability to tell what clothing and/or accessories look good and what doesn't. Since the entire notion of fashion depends on subjectivity, so does the question of who possesses "fashion sense". Some people style themselves as "fashion consultants" and charge clients to help the latter choose what to wear.
Fashion can operate differently depending on gender, or it can promote homogeneity as in unisex styles.
Classification of Fashions
Modern Underground Fashion:
- The chapter on Fashion in Georg Simmel, on Individuality & Social Forms, Selected Writings, Georg Simmel, edited by Donald N. Levine, University of Chicago Press, 1971, hardcover, 393 pages, ISBN 0226757757
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