Fashion is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise devoted to the design, production, and selling of clothes and accessories. But fashion is more than the designer garments modeled on runways in Paris or Milan or the clothes sold in malls around the world. Fashion is a mirror of society and a tool for self-expression.
It reflects social changes, depicts historical periods, and helps understand past societies. Whether it’s the corsets and bustles of Victorian times or the jeans and cowboy boots worn by blue-collar workers, fashion is all around us. It is even in the way we talk: fashion vocabulary includes words like “trendy,” “so hot right now,” and “classic.”
One of the most intriguing aspects of fashion is its cyclical nature. It is almost impossible to trace how a certain style becomes popular. For example, how did the baggy jeans of The Fresh Prince make it from the streets of the Bronx to the runways of Paris and London? Fashion is driven by what people are listening to, watching, and reading. The bare midriffs of 1990s TV shows and the high-rise jeans of the 1980s were both inspired by music, art, and books.
As a form of expression, fashion can be anything from an understated whisper to a high-energy scream. For example, if someone wears ethically-sourced clothing, it communicates their support for fair trade and sustainable practices. Or if someone wears bright colors, it shows their openness to new experiences and vibrant outlook on life.