What Is Fashion?


Fashion is a prevailing mode of expression, including customs, clothing styles, and speech. Fashion trends change over time and vary by geography, age group, class, and sex. It has been argued that fashion is a mirror of society, reflecting its values and ideals. However, other scholars have criticized this interpretation, noting that the way in which we define what is fashionable is highly subjective and often defined by an elite group whose tastes are not necessarily reflective of society as a whole.

In the past, changes in fashion were mainly prompted by economic or social circumstances. For example, during World War I, skirt hemlines rose from ankle to mid-calf as women gave up social activities in favor of more pressing concerns such as working or visiting wounded soldiers. In other cases, changes in fashion were a result of the influence of foreign cultures. Europeans’ fascination with things Turkish at one point, Chinese at another, and Japanese at still others led to a series of culturally significant shifts in fashion.

Today, fashion is more than just a means of expression, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry and a socio-cultural phenomenon that influences the daily lives of everyone on this planet. As a result of its immense popularity, there is a wealth of coverage and commentary on fashion in both popular and academic spheres. This explosion in discussion, commentary and analysis is a direct response to the massive expansion of fashion itself.