Model in a designer gown reflecting the contemporary fashion trend at an Haute couture fashion show, Paris, 2011
Fashion is a form of self-expression and autonomy at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle, and body posture. The term implies a look defined by the fashion industry as that which is trending. Everything that is considered fashion is available and popularized by the fashion system (industry and media).
Due to increased mass-production of commodities and clothing at lower prices and global reach, sustainability has become an urgent issue among politicians, brands, and consumers.
1 Definitions of fashion
3 Clothing fashions
3.1 Fashion in Europe and the Western hemisphere
4 Fashion industry
5 Fashion trend
5.1 Social influences
5.2 Economic influences
5.2.1 Circular economy
5.2.2 China’s domestic spending
5.3.1 Market research
5.3.2 Symbolic consumption
5.4 Political influences
5.5 Technology influences
6.1 Fashion in printed media
6.2 Fashion in television
6.3 Controversial advertisements in fashion industry
6.3.1 Racism in fashion advertisements
6.3.2 Sexism in fashion advertisements
7 Public relations and social media
8 Fashion and political activism
9 Anthropological perspective
9.1 Anthropology of dress in Indonesia
10 Intellectual property
11 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
Definitions of fashion
Reconstructed Roman women’s fashion from Florence, Taipei 2013
Fashion scholar, Susan B. Kaiser, states that everyone is forced to appear, unmediated before others. Everyone is evaluated by their attire: how one looks, what colors, materials, and silhouette one wears. Even when the garments are the same in style and material, they will appear different; if they were washed, folded, mended, or new.
The term fashion is plagued by its different uses, and by the unclear application of the concept. For example, the term connotes difference, but also sameness. It signifies the latest distinction and trend, as well as the return of the old. While it may be defined by an insular and esteemed aesthetic elite, who make a look exclusive, this look is often using references from those excluded from making the distinction.
Whereas a trend often connotes a peculiar aesthetic expression, often lasting shorter than a season, fashion is a distinctive and industry-supported expression traditionally tied to the fashion season and collections. Style is an expression that lasts over many seasons and is often connected to cultural movements and social markers, symbols, class, and culture (ex. Baroque, Rococo, etc.). According to sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, fashion connotes “the latest difference.”
Even though the terms are often used together, fashion differs from clothing and costumes — “clothing” describes the material and technical garment; “costume” has come to mean fancy-dress or masquerade wear. “Fashion,” by contrast, describes the social and temporal system that “activates” dress as a social signifier in a certain time and context. Philosopher Giorgio Agamben connects fashion to the current intensity of the qualitative moment and to the temporal aspect the Greek call Kairos, whereas clothing belongs to the quantitative, what the Greek call Chronos.
While some exclusive brands may claim the label haute couture, the term is technically limited to members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. Haute couture is more aspirational; inspired by art and culture, and in most cases, reserved for the economic elite.
Fashion is also a source of art, allowing people to display their unique tastes and styling. Different designers are influenced by outside stimuli and reflect this inspiration in their works. For example, Gucci’s ‘stained green’ jeans may look like a grass stain, but to others, they display purity, freshness, and summer.
Fashion is unique, self-fulfilling and may be a part of someone’s identity. Just like art, fashion does not have to be liked by everyone, it is an expression of one’s tastes. Whilst art is usually locked into a drawing, sculpture, picture etc, clothes are a moving form of art; a unique characteristic.
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The functions of fashion include the ability to construct, predict, distribute and implement certain values and samples of behaviour, to form the entity’s tastes and manage them. Fashion complements the traditional forms of culture through their turning by modernity, and constructs on this basis, a new human environment.
Fashion, or one’s own personal style, functions as a “societal formation always combining two opposite principles. It is a socially acceptable and secure way to distinguish oneself from others and, at the same time, it satisfies the individual’s need for social adaptation and imitation”. While philosopher Immanuel Kant believed fashion “has nothing to do with genuine judgements of taste… but is a case of unreflected and ‘blind’ imitation”, sociologist Georg Simmel thought of fashion as something that “helped to overcome the distance between an individual and his society”.
Normally fashion is associated with:
relativism (in context of a rapid change of fashion forms);
cyclicity (periodic referring to traditions);
irrationality (drawn to human emotions and is not always consistent with logic or even common sense);
versatility (the scope of modern fashion is practically not limited; the fashion faces all right away).
Main article: History of Western fashion
Reconstructed Roman women’s fashions from Florence. Taipei 2013
Fashion is a form of expression. Fashion is what people wear in a specific context. If a stranger would appear in this setting, adorning something different, the stranger would be considered “out of fashion.”
Early Western travelers, traveling to India, Persia, Turkey, or China, would frequently remark on the absence of change in fashion in those countries. The Japanese shōgun’s secretary bragged (not completely accurately) to a Spanish visitor in 1609 that Japanese clothing had not changed in over a thousand years. However, there is considerable evidence in Ming China of rapidly changing fashions in Chinese clothing. Costume changes often took place at times of economic or social change, as occurred in ancient Rome and the medieval Caliphate, followed by a long period without significant changes. In 8th-century Moorish Spain, the musician Ziryab introduced to Córdoba[unreliable source] sophisticated clothing styles based on seasonal and daily fashions from his native Baghdad, modified by his inspiration. Similar changes in fashion occurred in the 11th century in the Middle East following the arrival of the Turks, who introduced clothing styles from Central Asia and the Far East.
Additionally, there is a long history of fashion in West Africa. The Cloth was used as a form of currency in trade with the Portuguese and Dutch as early as the 16th Century. Locally produced cloth and cheaper European imports were assembled into new styles to accommodate the growing elite class of West Africans and resident gold and slave traders. There was an exceptionally strong tradition of cloth-weaving in Oyo and the areas inhabited by the Igbo people.
Fashion in Europe and the Western hemisphere
According to scholars, a specific definition of fashion emerges with the rise of capitalism and more liberal societies in Europe during late medieval times. The beginning in Europe of continual and increasingly rapid change in clothing styles can be fairly reliably dated. Historians, including James Laver and Fernand Braudel, date the start of Western fashion in clothing to the middle of the 14th century, though they tend to rely heavily on contemporary imagery and illuminated manuscripts were not common before the fourteenth century. The most dramatic early change in fashion was a sudden drastic shortening and tightening of the male over-garment from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, sometimes accompanied with stuffing in the chest to make it look bigger. This created the distinctive Western outline of a tailored top worn over leggings or trousers.
The pace of change accelerated considerably in the following century, and women’s and men’s fashion, especially in the dressing and adorning of the hair, became equally complex. Art historians are, therefore, able to use fashion with confidence and precision to date images, often to within five years, particularly in the case of images from the 15th century. Initially, changes in fashion led to a fragmentation across the upper classes of Europe of what had previously been a very similar style of dressing and the subsequent development of distinctive national styles. These national styles remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th to 18th centuries imposed similar styles once again, mostly originating from Ancien Régime France. Though the rich usually led fashion, the increasing affluence of early modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even peasants following trends at a distance, but still uncomfortably close for the elites – a factor that Fernand Braudel regards as one of the main motors of changing fashion.
Albrecht Dürer’s drawing contrasts a well turned out bourgeoise from Nuremberg (left) with her counterpart from Venice. The Venetian lady’s high chopines make her look taller.
Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, was a leader of fashion. Her choices, such as this 1783 white muslin dress called a chemise a la Reine, were highly influential and widely worn.
In the 16th century, national differences were at their most pronounced. Ten 16th century portraits of German or Italian gentlemen may show ten entirely different hats. Albrecht Dürer illustrated the differences in his actual (or composite) contrast of Nuremberg and Venetian fashions at the close of the 15th century (illustration, right). The “Spanish style” of the late 16th century began the move back to synchronicity among upper-class Europeans, and after a struggle in the mid-17th century, French styles decisively took over leadership, a process completed in the 18th century.
Though different textile colors and patterns changed from year to year, the cut of a gentleman’s coat and the length of his waistcoat, or the pattern to which a lady’s dress was cut, changed more slowly. Men’s fashions were primarily derived from military models, and changes in a European male silhouette were galvanized in theaters of European war where gentleman officers had opportunities to make notes of different styles such as the “Steinkirk” cravat or necktie.
Though there had been distribution of dressed dolls from France since the 16th century and Abraham Bosse had produced engravings of fashion in the 1620s, the pace of change picked up in the 1780s with increased publication of French engravings illustrating the latest Paris styles. By 1800, all Western Europeans were dressing alike (or thought they were); local variation became first a sign of provincial culture and later a badge of the conservative peasant.
Although tailors and dressmakers were no doubt responsible for many innovations, and the textile industry indeed led many trends, the history of fashion design is generally understood to date from 1858 when the English-born Charles Frederick Worth opened the first authentic haute couture house in Paris. The Haute house was the name established by the government for the fashion houses that met the standards of the industry. These fashion houses have to adhere to standards such as keeping at least twenty employees engaged in making the clothes, showing two collections per year at fashion shows, and presenting a certain number of patterns to costumers. Since then, the idea of the fashion designer as a celebrity in his or her own right has become increasingly dominant.
Although fashion can be feminine or masculine, additional trends are androgynous. The idea of unisex dressing originated in the 1960s when designers such as Pierre Cardin and Rudi Gernreich created garments, such as stretch jersey tunics or leggings, meant to be worn by both males and females. The impact of unisex wearability expanded more broadly to encompass various themes in fashion, including androgyny, mass-market retail, and conceptual clothing. The fashion trends of the 1970s, such as sheepskin jackets, flight jackets, duffel coats, and unstructured clothing, influenced men to attend social gatherings without a dinner jacket and to accessorize in new ways. Some men’s styles blended the sensuality and expressiveness, and the growing gay-rights movement and an emphasis on youth allowed for a new freedom to experiment with style and with fabrics such as wool crepe, which had previously been associated with women’s attire.
Cover of Marcus Clarks’ spring & summer catalogue 1926–27
The four major current fashion capitals are acknowledged to be Paris, Milan, New York City, and London, which are all headquarters to the most significant fashion companies and are renowned for their major influence on global fashion. Fashion weeks are held in these cities, where designers exhibit their new clothing collections to audiences. A succession of major designers such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint-Laurent have kept Paris as the center most watched by the rest of the world, although haute couture is now subsidized by the sale of ready-to-wear collections and perfume using the same branding.
Modern Westerners have a vast number of choices in the selection of their clothes. What a person chooses to wear can reflect his or her personality or interests. When people who have high cultural status start to wear new or different styles, they may inspire a new fashion trend. People who like or respect these people are influenced by their style and begin wearing similarly styled clothes.
Fashions may vary considerably within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation, and geography, and may also vary over time. The terms fashionista and fashion victim refer to someone who slavishly follows current fashions.
In the early 2000s, Asian fashion has become increasingly significant in local and global markets. Countries such as China, Japan, India, and Pakistan have traditionally had large textile industries, which have often been drawn upon by Western designers, but now Asian clothing styles are also gaining influence based on their ideas.
See also: Clothing industry, Fashion design, and Fashion show
Male and female fashion models on the runway, Los Angeles Fashion Week, 2008
In its most common use, the term fashion refers to the current expressions on sale through the fashion industry. The global fashion industry is a product of the modern age. In the Western world, tailoring has since medieval times been controlled by guilds, but with the emergence of industrialism, the power of the guilds was undermined. Before the mid-19th century, most clothing was custom-made. It was handmade for individuals, either as home production or on order from dressmakers and tailors. By the beginning of the 20th century, with the rise of new technologies such as the sewing machine, the rise of global trade, the development of the factory system of production, and the proliferation of retail outlets such as department stores, clothing became increasingly mass-produced in standard sizes and sold at fixed prices.
Although the fashion industry developed first in Europe and America, as of 2017, it is an international and highly globalized industry, with clothing often designed in one country, manufactured in another, and sold worldwide. For example, an American fashion company might source fabric in China and have the clothes manufactured in Vietnam, finished in Italy, and shipped to a warehouse in the United States for distribution to retail outlets internationally.
The fashion industry was for a long time one of the largest employers in the United States, and it remains so in the 21st century. However, U.S. employment in fashion began to decline considerably as production increasingly moved overseas, especially to China. Because data on the fashion industry typically are reported for national economies and expressed in terms of the industry’s many separate sectors, aggregate figures for the world production of textiles and clothing are difficult to obtain. However, by any measure, the clothing industry accounts for a significant share of world economic output. The fashion industry consists of four levels:
The production of raw materials, principally Fiber, and textiles but also leather and fur.
The production of fashion goods by designers, manufacturers, contractors, and others.
Various forms of advertising and promotion.
The levels of focus in the fashion industry consist of many separate but interdependent sectors. These sectors include Textile Design and Production, Fashion Design and Manufacturing, Fashion Retailing, Marketing and Merchandising, Fashion Shows, and Media and Marketing. Each sector is devoted to the goal of satisfying consumer demand for apparel under conditions that enable participants in the industry to operate at a profit.
Main articles: Fashion trend and 2010s in fashion
A fashion trend signifies a specific look or expression that is spread across a population at a specific time and place. A trend is considered a more ephemeral look, not defined by the seasons when collections are released by the fashion industry. A trend can thus emerge from street style, across cultures, from influencers and celebrities.
Fashion trends are influenced by several factors, including cinema, celebrities, climate, creative explorations, innovations, designs, political, economic, social, and technological. Examining these factors is called a PEST analysis. Fashion forecasters can use this information to help determine the growth or decline of a particular trend.
Celebrities such as Britney Spears have popularised the concept of wearing underwear as outerwear.
Red carpet fashion: Italian actors Gabriel Garko and Laura Torrisi wearing designer formal wear at Venice Film Festival, 2009
Fashion is inherently a social phenomenon. A person cannot have a fashion by oneself, but for something to be defined as fashion, there needs to be dissemination and followers. This dissemination can take several forms; from the top-down (“trickle-down”) to bottom-up (“bubble up”), or transversally across cultures and through viral memes and media.
Fashion relates to the social and cultural context of an environment. According to Matika, “Elements of popular culture become fused when a person’s trend is associated with a preference for a genre of music…like music, news or literature, fashion has been fused into everyday lives.” Fashion is not only seen as purely aesthetic; fashion is also a medium for people to create an overall effect and express their opinions and overall art.
This mirrors what performers frequently accomplish through music videos. In the music video ‘Formation’ by Beyoncé, according to Carlos, “The pop star pays homage to her Creole roots…. tracing the roots of the Louisiana cultural nerve center from the post-abolition era to present day, Beyoncé catalogs the evolution of the city’s vibrant style and its tumultuous history all at once. Atop a New Orleans police car in a red-and-white Gucci high-collar dress and combat boots, she sits among the ruins of Hurricane Katrina, immediately implanting herself in the biggest national debate on police brutality and race relations in modern day.”
The annual or seasonal runway show is a reflection of fashion trends and a designer’s inspirations. For designers like Vivienne Westwood, runway shows are a platform for her voice on politics and current events. For her AW15 menswear show, according to Water, “where models with severely bruised faces channeled eco-warriors on a mission to save the planet.” Another recent example is a staged feminist protest march for Chanel’s SS15 show, rioting models chanting words of empowerment with signs like “Feminist but feminine” and “Ladies first.” According to Water, “The show tapped into Chanel’s long history of championing female independence: founder Coco Chanel was a trailblazer for liberating the female body in the post-WWI era, introducing silhouettes that countered the restrictive corsets then in favour.”
The annual Academy Awards ceremony is also a venue where fashion designers and their creations are celebrated.
Social media is also a place where fashion is presented most often. Some influencers are paid huge amounts of money to promote a product or clothing item, where the business hopes many viewers will buy the product off the back of the advertisement. Instagram is the most popular platform for advertising, but Facebook, snapchat and other platforms are also used.
creasing spiral of consumption, rather than a utopian cradle-to-cradle circular solution.
In today’s linear economical system, manufacturers extract resources from the earth to make products that will soon be discarded in landfills, on the other hand, under the circular model, the production of goods operates like systems in nature, where the waste and demise of a substance becomes the food and source of growth for something new. Companies such as MUD Jeans, which is based in the Netherlands employ a leasing scheme for jeans. This Dutch company “represents a new consuming philosophy that is about using instead of owning,” according to MUD’s website. The concept also protects the company from volatile cotton prices. Consumers pay €7.50 a month for a pair of jeans; after a year, they can return the jeans to Mud, trade them for a new pair and start another year-long lease, or keep them. MUD is responsible for any repairs during the lease period. Another ethical fashion company, Patagonia set up the first multi-seller branded store on eBay to facilitate secondhand sales; consumers who take the Common Threads pledge can sell in this store and have their gear listed on Patagonia.com’s “Used Gear” section.
China’s domestic spending
Consumption as a share of gross domestic product in China has fallen for six decades, from 76 percent in 1952 to 28 percent in 2011. China plans to reduce tariffs on a number of consumer goods and expand its 72-hour transit visa plan to more cities in an effort to stimulate domestic consumption.
The announcement of import tax reductions follows changes in June 2015, when the government cut the tariffs on clothing, cosmetics and various other goods by half. Among the changes – easier tax refunds for overseas shoppers and accelerated openings of more duty-free shops in cities covered by the 72-hour visa scheme. The 72-hour visa was introduced in Beijing and Shanghai in January 2013 and has been extended to 18 Chinese cities.
According to reports at the same time, Chinese consumer spending in other countries such as Japan has slowed even though the yen has dropped. There is clearly a trend in the next 5 years that the domestic fashion market will show an increase.
China is an interesting market for fashion retail as Chinese consumers’ motivation to shop for fashion items are unique from Western Audiences. Demographics have limited association with shopping motivation, with occupation, income and education level having no impact; unlike in Western Countries. Chinese high-street shoppers prefer adventure and social shopping, while online shoppers are motivated by idea shopping. Another difference is how gratification and idea shopping influence spending over ¥1k per month on fashion items, and regular spending influenced by value shopping.
Consumers of different groups have varying needs and demands. Factors taken into consideration when thinking of consumers’ needs include key demographics. To understand consumers’ needs and predict fashion trends, fashion companies have to do market research There are two research methods: primary and secondary. Secondary methods are taking other information that has already been collected, for example using a book or an article for research. Primary research is collecting data through surveys, interviews, observation, and/or focus groups. Primary research often focuses on large sample sizes to determine customer’s motivations to shop.
The benefits of primary research are specific information about a fashion brand’s consumer is explored. Surveys are helpful tools; questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. Negative factor surveys and interviews present is that the answers can be biased, due to wording in the survey or on face-to-face interactions. Focus groups, about 8 to 12 people, can be beneficial because several points can be addressed in depth. However, there are drawbacks to this tactic, too. With such a small sample size, it is hard to know if the greater public would react the same way as the focus group. Observation can really help a company gain insight on what a consumer truly wants. There is less of a bias because consumers are just performing their daily tasks, not necessarily realizing they are being observed. For example, observing the public by taking street style photos of people, the consumer did not get dressed in the morning knowing that would have their photo taken necessarily. They just wear what they would normally wear. Through observation patterns can be seen, helping trend forecasters know what their target market needs and wants.
Knowing the needs of consumers will increase fashion companies’ sales and profits. Through research and studying the consumers’ lives the needs of the customer can be obtained and help fashion brands know what trends the consumers are ready for.
Consumption is driven not only by need, the symbolic meaning for consumers is also a factor. Consumers engaging in symbolic consumption may develop a sense of self over an extended period of time as various objects are collected as part of the process of establishing their identity and, when the symbolic meaning is shared in a social group, to communicate their identity to others. For teenagers, consumption plays a role in distinguishing the child self from the adult. Researchers have found that the fashion choices of teenagers are used for self-expression and also to recognize other teens who wear similar clothes. The symbolic association of clothing items can link individuals’ personality and interests, with music as a prominent factor influencing fashion decisions.
Ivanka Trump (right) along with Japanese PM Shinzō Abe wearing Western-style business suits, 2017
Political figures have played a central role in the development of fashion, at least since the time of French king Louis XIV. For example, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashion icon of the early 1960s. Wearing Chanel suits, structural Givenchy shift dresses, and soft color Cassini coats with large buttons, she inspired trends of both elegant formal dressing and classic feminine style.
Cultural upheavals have also had an impact on fashion trends. For example, during the 1960s, the U.S. economy was robust, the divorce rate was increasing, and the government approved the birth control pill. These factors inspired the younger generation to rebel against entrenched social norms. The civil rights movement, a struggle for social justice and equal opportunity for Blacks, and the women’s liberation movement, seeking equal rights and opportunities and greater personal freedom for women, were in full bloom. In 1964, the leg-baring mini-skirt was introduced and became a white-hot trend. Fashion designers then began to experiment with the shapes of garments: loose sleeveless dresses, micro-minis, flared skirts, and trumpet sleeves. Fluorescent colors, print patterns, bell-bottom jeans, fringed vests, and skirts became de rigueur outfits of the 1960s.
Concern and protest over U.S involvement in the failing Vietnam War also influenced fashion . Camouflage patterns in military clothing, developed to help military personnel be less visible to enemy forces, seeped into streetwear designs in the 1960s. Camouflage trends have disappeared and resurfaced several times since then, appearing in high fashion iterations in the 1990s. Designers such as Valentino, Dior, and Dolce & Gabbana combined camouflage into their runway and ready-to-wear collections. Today, variations of camouflage, including pastel shades, in every article of clothing or accessory, continue to enjoy popularity.
Today, technology plays a sizable role in society, and technological influences are correspondingly increasing within the realm of fashion. Wearable technology has become incorporated; for example, clothing constructed with solar panels that charge devices and smart fabrics that enhance wearer comfort by changing color or texture based on environmental changes. 3D printing technology has influenced designers such as Iris van Herpen and Kimberly Ovitz. As the technology evolves, 3D printers will become more accessible to designers and eventually, consumers — these could potentially reshape design and production in the fashion industry entirely.
Internet technology, enabling the far reaches of online retailers and social media platforms, has created previously unimaginable ways for trends to be identified, marketed, and sold immediately. Trend-setting styles are easily displayed and communicated online to attract customers. Posts on Instagram or Facebook can quickly increase awareness about new trends in fashion, which subsequently may create high demand for specific items or brands, new “buy now button” technology can link these styles with direct sales.
Machine vision technology has been developed to track how fashions spread through society. The industry can now see the direct correlation on how fashion shows influence street-chic outfits. Effects such as these can now be quantified and provide valuable feedback to fashion houses, designers, and consumers regarding trends.
Latin dancers in their costumes. The woman is wearing backless dress with deep slits on its lower portion, while the man is wearing a shirt with top buttons open.
The media plays a significant role when it comes to fashion. For instance, an important part of fashion is fashion journalism. Editorial critique, guidelines, and commentary can be found on television and in magazines, newspapers, fashion websites, social networks, and fashion blogs. In recent years, fashion blogging and YouTube videos have become a major outlet for spreading trends and fashion tips, creating an online culture of sharing one’s style on a website or Instagram account. Through these media outlets, readers and viewers all over the world can learn about fashion, making it very accessible. In addition to fashion journalism, another media platform that is important in fashion industry is advertisement. Advertisements provide information to audiences and promote the sales of products and services. The fashion industry utilizes advertisements to attract consumers and promote its products to generate sales. A few decades ago when technology was still underdeveloped, advertisements heavily relied on radio, magazines, billboards, and newspapers. These days, there are more various ways in advertisements such as television ads, online-based ads using internet websites, and posts, videos, and live streaming in social media platforms.
Fashion in printed media
There are two subsets of print styling: editorial and lifestyle. Editorial styling is the high – fashion styling seen in fashion magazines, and this tends to be more artistic and fashion-forward. Lifestyle styling focuses on a more overtly commercial goal, like a department store advertisement, a website, or an advertisement where fashion is not what’s being sold but the models hired to promote the product in the photo.
The dressing practices of the powerful has traditionally been mediated through art and the practices of the courts. The looks of the French court were disseminated through prints, from the 16th century, but became prevalent with the promotion of the centralized court around king Louis XIV, and the style that became known under his name. At the beginning of the 20th century, fashion magazines began to include photographs of various fashion designs and became even more influential than in the past. In cities throughout the world these magazines were greatly sought after and had a profound effect on public taste in clothing. Talented illustrators drew exquisite fashion plates for the publications which covered the most recent developments in fashion and beauty. Perhaps the most famous of these magazines was La Gazette du Bon Ton, which was founded in 1912 by Lucien Vogel and regularly published until 1925 (with the exception of the war years).
A see-through top worn along with pasties by a model at a fashion show in USA, 2017. Such fashion trends get popularised through media.
Vogue, founded in the United States in 1892, has been the longest-lasting and most successful of the hundreds of fashion magazines that have come and gone. Increasing affluence after World War II and, most importantly, the advent of cheap color printing in the 1960s, led to a huge boost in its sales and heavy coverage of fashion in mainstream women’s magazines, followed by men’s magazines in the 1990s. One such example of Vogue’s popularity is the younger version, Teen Vogue, which covers clothing and trends that are targeted more toward the “fashionista on a budget”. Haute couture designers followed the trend by starting ready-to-wear and perfume lines which are heavily advertised in the magazines and now dwarf their original couture businesses. A recent development within fashion print media is the rise of text-based and critical magazines which aim to prove that fashion is not superficial, by creating a dialogue between fashion academia and the industry. Examples of this development are: Fashion Theory (1997), Fashion Practice: The Journal of Design, Creative Process & the Fashion Industry (2008), and Vestoj (2009).
Fashion in television
Television coverage began in the 1950s with small fashion features. In the 1960s and 1970s, fashion segments on various entertainment shows became more frequent, and by the 1980s, dedicated fashion shows such as Fashion Television started to appear. FashionTV was the pioneer in this undertaking and has since grown to become the leader in both Fashion Television and new media channels. The Fashion Industry is beginning to promote their styles through Bloggers on social media’s. Vogue specified Chiara Ferragni as “blogger of the moment” due to the rises of followers through her Fashion Blog, that became popular.
A few days after the 2010 Fall Fashion Week in New York City came to a close, The New Islander’s Fashion Editor, Genevieve Tax, criticized the fashion industry for running on a seasonal schedule of its own, largely at the expense of real-world consumers. “Because designers release their fall collections in the spring and their spring collections in the fall, fashion magazines such as Vogue always and only look forward to the upcoming season, promoting parkas come September while issuing reviews on shorts in January”, she writes. “Savvy shoppers, consequently, have been conditioned to be extremely, perhaps impractically, farsighted with their buying.”
The fashion industry has been the subject of numerous films and television shows, including the reality show Project Runway and the drama series Ugly Betty. Specific fashion brands have been featured in film, not only as product placement opportunities, but as bespoke items that have subsequently led to trends in fashion.
Videos in general have been very useful in promoting the fashion industry. This is evident not only from television shows directly spotlighting the fashion industry, but also movies, events and music videos which showcase fashion statements as well as promote specific brands through product placements.
Controversial advertisements in fashion industry
Racism in fashion advertisements
There are some fashion advertisements that were accused of racism and led to boycotts from the customers. Globally known, Swedish fashion brand H&M faced this issue with one of its children’s wear advertisements in 2018. A black child wearing a hoodie with a slogan written as “coolest monkey in the jungle” right at the center was featured in the ad. When it was released, it immediately became controversial and even led to a boycott. A lot of people including celebrities posted on social media about their resentments towards H&M and refusal to work with and buy its products. H&M issued a statement saying “we apologise to anyone this may have offended”, which seemed insincere to some. Another fashion advertisement regarding racism is from GAP, an American worldwide clothing brand. GAP collaborated with Ellen DeGeneres in 2016 for the advertisement. It features playful, four young girls where a tall white girl is leaning with her arm on a shorter black girl’s head. When this ad was released, some viewers harshly criticized that it underlies passive racism. A representative from The Root, black culture magazine commented on the ad that it portrays the message that black people are undervalued and seen like props for white people to look better. There were different points of views on this issue, some saying that people are being too sensitive, and some getting offended. Regardless of various views and thoughts, GAP replaced the ad to different image and apologized to critics.
Sexism in fashion advertisements
Many fashion brands have published ads that were too provocative and sexy to attract customers’ attention. British high fashion brand, Jimmy Choo, was blamed for having sexism in its ad which featured a female British model wearing the brand’s boots. In this two-minute ad, men whistle at a model, walking on the street with red, sleeveless mini dress. This ad gained much backlash and criticism by the viewers since sexual harassment and misconduct were a huge issue during this time and even till now. Many people showed their dismay through social media posts, leading Jimmy Choo to pull down the ad from social media platforms.
French luxury fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent also faced this issue with its print ad shown in Paris in 2017. A female model is wearing a fishnet tights with roller-skate stilettos, almost lying down with her legs opened in front of the camera. This advertisement brought harsh comments from the viewers and French advertising organization directors for going against the advertising codes related to “respect for decency, dignity and those prohibiting submission, violence or dependence, as well as the use of stereotypes.” They even said that this ad is causing “mental harm to adolescents.” Lot of sarcastic comments were made in social media about the ad and the poster was removed from the city.
Public relations and social media
A Mexican sports reporter wearing little black dress and knee-high boots
Fashion public relations involves being in touch with a company’s audiences and creating strong relationships with them, reaching out to media, and initiating messages that project positive images of the company. Social media plays an important role in modern-day fashion public relations; enabling practitioners to reach a wide range of consumers through various platforms.
Building brand awareness and credibility is a key implication of good public relations. In some cases, the hype is built about new designers’ collections before they are released into the market, due to the immense exposure generated by practitioners. Social media, such as blogs, microblogs, podcasts, photo and video sharing sites have all become increasingly important to fashion public relations. The interactive nature of these platforms allows practitioners to engage and communicate with the public in real-time, and tailor their clients’ brand or campaign messages to the target audience. With blogging platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, Squarespace, and other sharing sites, bloggers have emerged as expert fashion commentators, shaping brands and having a great impact on what is ‘on trend’. Women in the fashion public relations industry such as Sweaty Betty PR founder Roxy Jacenko and Oscar de la Renta’s PR girl Erika Bearman, have acquired copious followers on their social media sites, by providing a brand identity and a behind the scenes look into the companies they work for.
Social media is changing the way practitioners deliver messages, as they are concerned with the media, and also customer relationship building. PR practitioners must provide effective communication among all platforms, in order to engage the fashion public in an industry socially connected via online shopping. Consumers have the ability to share their purchases on their personal social media pages (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and if practitioners deliver the brand message effectively and meet the needs of its public, word-of-mouth publicity will be generated and potentially provide a wide reach for the designer and their products.
Fashion and political activism
As fashion concerns people, and signifies social hierarchies, fashion intersects with politics and the social organization of societies. Whereas haute couture and business suits are associated by people in power, also groups aiming to challenge the political order also use clothes to signal their position. The explicit use of fashion as a form of activism, is usually referred to as “fashion activism.”
There is a complex relationship between fashion and feminism. Some feminists have argued that by participating in feminine fashions women are contributing to maintaining the gender differences which are part of women’s oppression.. Brownmiller felt that women should reject traditionally feminine dress, focusing on comfort and practicality rather than fashion. Others believe that it is the fashion system itself that is repressive in requiring women to seasonally change their clothes to keep up with trends. Greer has advocated this argument that seasonal changes in dress should be ignored; she argues that women can be liberated by replacing the compulsiveness of fashion with enjoyment of rejecting the norm to create their own personal styling. This rejection of seasonal fashion led to many protests in the 1960s alongside rejection of fashion on socialist, racial and environmental grounds. However, Mosmann has pointed out that the relationship between protesting fashion and creating fashion is dynamic because the language and style used in these protests has then become part of fashion itself.
Fashion designers and brands have traditionally kept themselves out of political conflicts, there has been a movement in the industry towards taking more explicit positions across the political spectrum. From maintaining a rather apolitical stance, designers and brands today engage more explicitly in current debates.
For example, considering the U.S.’s political climate in the surrounding months of the 2016 presidential election, during 2017 fashion weeks in London, Milan, New York, Paris and São Paulo amongst others, many designers took the opportunity to take political stances leveraging their platforms and influence to reach their customers. This has also led to some confusion around democratic values, as fashion is not always the most inclusive platform for political debate, but a one-way broadcast of top-down messages.
When taking an explicit political stance, designers appear to favor issues around which can be phrased using clear language with virtuous undertones. For example, aiming to “amplify a greater message of unity, inclusion, diversity, and feminism in a fashion space”, designer Mara Hoffman invited the founders of the Women’s March on Washington to open her show which featured modern silhouettes of utilitarian wear, described by critics as “Made for a modern warrior” and “Clothing for those who still have work to do”. Prabal Gurung debuted his collection of T-shirts featuring slogans such as “The Future is Female”, “We Will Not Be Silenced”, and “Nevertheless She Persisted”, with proceeds going to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Gurung’s own charity, “Shikshya Foundation Nepal”. Similarly, The Business of Fashion launched the #TiedTogether movement on Social Media, encouraging member of the industry from editors to models, to wear a white bandana advocating for “unity, solidarity, and inclusiveness during fashion week”.
Fashion may be used to promote a cause, such as to promote healthy behavior, to raise money for a cancer cure, or to raise money for local charities such as the Juvenile Protective Association or a children’s hospice.
One fashion cause is trashion, which is using trash to make clothes, jewelry, and other fashion items in order to promote awareness of pollution. There are a number of modern trashion artists such as Marina DeBris, Ann Wizer, and Nancy Judd. Other designers have used DIY fashions, in the tradition of the punk movement, to address elitism in the industry to promote more inclusion and diversity.
From an academic lens, the sporting of various fashions has been seen as a form of fashion language, a mode of communication that produced various fashion statements, using a grammar of fashion. This is a perspective promoted in the work of influential French philosopher and semiotician Roland Barthes.
Anthropology, the study of culture and of human societies, examines fashion by asking why certain styles are deemed socially appropriate and others are not. From the theory of interactionism, a certain practice or expression is chosen by those in power in a community, and that becomes “the fashion” as defined at a certain time by the people under influence of those in power. If a particular style has a meaning in an already occurring set of beliefs, then that style may have a greater chance of become fashion.
According to cultural theorists Ted Polhemus and Lynn Procter, one can describe fashion as adornment, of which there are two types: fashion and anti-fashion. Through the capitalization and commoditization of clothing, accessories, and shoes, etc., what once constituted anti-fashion becomes part of fashion as the lines between fashion and anti-fashion are blurred, as expressions that were once outside the changes of fashion are swept along with trends to signify new meanings. Examples range from how elements from ethnic dress becomes part of a trend and appear on catwalks or street cultures, for example how tattoos travel from sailors, laborers and criminals to popular culture.
To cultural theorist Malcolm Bernard, fashion and anti-fashion differ as follows: Anti-fashion is fixed and changes little over time. Anti-fashion varies depending on the cultural or social group one is associated with or where one lives, but within that group or locality the style changes little. Fashion is the exact opposite of anti-fashion. Fashion can change (evolve) very quickly and is not affiliated with one group or area of the world but spreads throughout the world wherever people can communicate easily with each other. For example, Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation gown is an example of anti-fashion because it is traditional and does not change over any period, whereas a gown from fashion-designer Dior’s collection of 1953 is fashion because Dior’s style changes every season as Dior comes up with a new gown to replace the old one. In the Dior gown the length, cut, fabric, and embroidery of the gown change from season to season. Anti-fashion is concerned with maintaining the status quo while fashion is concerned with social mobility. Time is expressed in terms of continuity in anti-fashion and as change in fashion. Fashion has changing modes of adornment while anti-fashion has fixed modes of adornment. Indigenous and peasant modes of adornment exemplify anti-fashion, as they are not primarily used for manifesting social hierarchies while also allowing for social mobility. From this theoretical lens, change in fashion is part of the larger industrial system and is structured by the powerful actors in this system to be a deliberate change in style, promoted through the channels influenced by the industry (such as paid ads etc).
Anthropology of dress in Indonesia
The change from anti-fashion to fashion because of the influence of western consumer-driven culture can be seen in eastern Indonesia. The ikat textiles of the Ngada area of eastern Indonesia are changing because of modernization and development. Traditionally, in the Ngada area there was no idea similar to that of the Western idea of fashion, but anti-fashion in the form of traditional textiles and ways to adorn oneself were widely popular. Textiles in Indonesia have played many roles for the local people. Textiles defined a person’s rank and status; certain textiles indicated being part of the ruling class. People expressed their ethnic identity and social hierarchy through textiles. Because some Indonesians bartered ikat textiles for food, the textiles constituted economic goods, and as some textile-design motifs had spiritual religious meanings, textiles were also a way to communicate religious messages.
In eastern Indonesia, both the production and use of traditional textiles have been transformed[by whom?] as the production, use and value associated with textiles have changed due to modernization. In the past, women produced the textiles either for home consumption or to trade with others. Today, this has changed as most textiles are not being produced at home. Western goods are considered[by whom?] modern and are valued more than traditional goods, including the sarong, which retain a lingering association with colonialism. Now, sarongs are used only for rituals and ceremonial occasions, whereas western clothes are worn to church or government offices. Civil servants working in urban areas are more likely than peasants to make the distinction between western and traditional clothes. Following Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch in the 1940s, people increasingly started buying factory-made shirts and sarongs. In textile-producing areas the growing of cotton and the production of naturally colored thread became obsolete. Traditional motifs on textiles are no longer considered the property of a certain social class or age-group. Wives of government officials are promoting the use of traditional textiles in the form of western garments such as skirts, vests and blouses. This trend is also being followed by the general populace, and whoever can afford to hire a tailor is doing so to stitch traditional ikat textiles into western clothes. Thus traditional textiles are now fashion goods and are no longer confined to the black, white and brown colour-palette, but come in an array of colours. Traditional textiles are also being used[by whom?] in interior decoration and to make handbags, wallets and other accessories, which are considered fashionable by civil servants and their families. There is[when?] also a booming tourist trade in the eastern Indonesian city of Kupang where international and domestic tourists are eager to purchase traditionally printed western goods.
The use of traditional textiles for fashion is becoming big business in eastern Indonesia, but these traditional textiles are losing their ethnic identity-markers and are being used[by whom?] as an item of fashion.[page needed]
In the fashion industry, intellectual property is not enforced as it is within the film industry and music industry. Robert Glariston, an intellectual property expert, mentioned in a fashion seminar held in LA[which?] that “Copyright law regarding clothing is a current hot-button issue in the industry. We often have to draw the line between designers being inspired by a design and those outright stealing it in different places.” To take inspiration from others’ designs contributes to the fashion industry’s ability to establish clothing trends. For the past few years, WGSN has been a dominant source of fashion news and forecasts in encouraging fashion brands worldwide to be inspired by one another. Enticing consumers to buy clothing by establishing new trends is, some have argued, a key component of the industry’s success. Intellectual property rules that interfere with this process of trend-making would, in this view, be counter-productive. On the other hand, it is often argued that the blatant theft of new ideas, unique designs, and design details by larger companies is what often contributes to the failure of many smaller or independent design companies.
Since fakes are distinguishable by their poorer quality, there is still a demand for luxury goods, and as only a trademark or logo can be copyrighted, many fashion brands make this one of the most visible aspects of the garment or accessory. In handbags, especially, the designer’s brand may be woven into the fabric (or the lining fabric) from which the bag is made, making the brand an intrinsic element of the bag.
In 2005, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a conference calling for stricter intellectual property enforcement within the fashion industry to better protect small and medium businesses and promote competitiveness within the textile and clothing industries.