What Is Fashion?


Fashion is the prevailing style of dress or manner of behaviour, particularly within a social group. It can also refer to a vogue for certain items of clothing or footwear. Fashions can be influenced by cultural trends, the latest technological advances and the financial interests of designers and manufacturers. Fashions may differ significantly within a society, depending on age, social class, generation, occupation and geography. Fashions can also revert to earlier styles and become “in fashion” again at later times. This process is known as cyclical fashion.

Fashion has often been associated with social status, with higher-status individuals able to afford more expensive clothes and accessories. Fashions can also serve as a form of advertisement, with certain clothing items gaining popularity among a particular group before becoming mass-produced and widely distributed.

It is believed that the modern fashion industry originated in the mid-19th century, although there are records of a number of textile designers operating in Europe prior to this date. The development of the sewing machine allowed for greater industrial production, and by the beginning of the 20th century, nearly all clothing was made in factories in standard sizes. The fashion industry is a global business, with design usually taking place in one country, manufacturing in another and retailing internationally.

The emergence of the fashion designer as a professionally recognized role was marked by the opening in Paris in 1858 of Charles Frederick Worth’s haute couture house. Today, there are a wide range of professional fashion designers working around the world, and aspiring designers can attend fashion schools in cities such as London, New York, Paris and Milan.

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