Fashion is a way of dressing that can express your mood, personality and attitude. It can be a subtle whisper, a high-energy scream or an all-knowing wink. It can be a statement about your social status or a sign that you’re plugged into the latest music, movies and books. It can even be a political statement, as evidenced by the frock coats worn by women in the nineteenth century to promote female emancipation or the baggy jeans of the hip-hop generation that promoted self-esteem and a sense of belonging to a group.
Clothing is not only a necessity for our comfort and protection, but it’s also big business. Millions of people work to design, sew, stitch, glue and transport clothes to stores where consumers spend money on them. Clothes can also be used as a form of identification and tradition: judges wear robes, members of the military wear uniforms and brides wear long white dresses. Some designers have a reputation for creating specific clothing styles, and the popularity of these looks becomes the foundation of a trend.
Many trends start with the designs that a designer sends down the runway during fashion shows in New York, Milan and Paris. These looks are often over-the-top and meant to be dramatic, so they capture the attention of viewers who then begin modeling their own outfits after them. Other trends can be influenced by the discovery of new fabrics or by cultural influences. For example, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, fashions in Europe changed frequently as a result of new discoveries from around the world.
Once a style becomes popular, it can quickly spread to other parts of the world as manufacturers make clothes in their own factories and then ship them to retailers in other countries. Sometimes, manufacturers will even make copies of the original designs and sell them for a fraction of the cost to a larger customer base. This is called “fast fashion” and it’s a large part of how the latest fashions get from the runway to the customer’s closet.
Some trends are slow to catch on and may be hard for the average person to incorporate into their own wardrobes. A good example of this is the cravat, which became a symbol of elegance in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but was soon replaced by ties when the necktie became more practical. Other trends may fade and return again later in a different form. For example, the thong shoe was a fashion fad in the 1920s and 30s but has since been replaced by flat sandals. This is why it’s so important to keep your wardrobe up-to-date and always be open to trying something new!