Fashion is a popular aesthetic expression at a particular time and place and in a specific context, especially in clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle, and body proportions. Whereas a trend often connotes a peculiar aesthetic expression and 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 fashion, the latest difference.”
Even though they are often used together, the term fashion differs from clothes and costumes, where the first describes the material and technical garment, whereas the second has been relegated to special senses like fancy-dress or masquerade wear. Fashion instead 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, to the temporal aspect the Greek called kairos, whereas clothes belong to the quantitative, to what the Greek called Chronos.
Exclusive brands aspire for the label haute couture, but the term is technically limited to members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. It is more aspirational and inspired by art, culture and movement. It is extremely exclusive in nature.
Main article: History of Western 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. Changes in costume 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.
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 aspects of fashion can be feminine or masculine, some 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 expands 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 tuxedo jacket and to accessorize in new ways. Some men’s styles blended the sensuality and expressiveness despite the conservative trend, the growing gay-rights movement and an emphasis on youth allowed for a new freedom to experiment with style, fabrics such as wool crepe, which had previously been associated with women’s attire was used by designers when creating male clothing.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 available 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 clothes, a fashion trend may start. People who like or respect these people become 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. If an older person dresses according to the fashion young people use, he or she may look ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people. The terms fashionista and fashion victim refer to someone who slavishly follows current fashions.
One can regard the system of sporting various fashions as a fashion language incorporating various fashion statements using a grammar of fashion. (Compare some of the work of Roland Barthes.)
In recent years, 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.
The notion of the global fashion industry is a product of the modern age. 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 capitalism and the development of the factory system of production, and the proliferation of retail outlets such as department stores—clothing had increasingly come to be 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 has long been one of the largest employers in the United States, and it remains so in the 21st century. However, U.S. employment declined 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.
- Retail sales.
- Various forms of advertising and promotion.
These levels consist of many separate but interdependent sectors. These sectors are 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.
Fashion trends 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. It helps to know more about the Fashion arena and lifestyle in the modern world.
Politics has played a central role in the development of fashion. For example, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashionable icon of the early 1960s who led the formal dressing trend. By wearing a Chanel suit, a structural Givenchy shift dress, or a soft color Cassini coat with large buttons, it created her elegant look and led a delicate trend.
Furthermore, the political revolution also made much impact on the fashion trend. For example, during the 1960s, the economy had become wealthier, the divorce rate was increasing, and the government approved the birth control pill. This revolution inspired the younger generation to rebellion. In 1964, the leg-baring mini-skirt became a significant fashion trend of the 1960s. Given that fashion designers began to experiment with the shapes of garment, loose sleeveless, micro-minis, flared skirts, and trumpet sleeves. In this case, the mini-skirt trend became an icon of the 1960s.
Moreover, the political movement built an impressive relationship with fashion trends. For instance, during the Vietnam war, the youth of America made a movement that affected the whole country. In the 1960s, the fashion trend was full of fluorescent colors, prints patterns, bell-bottom jeans, fringed vests, and skirt became a protest outfit of the 1960s. This trend was called Hippie, and it is still affecting the current fashion trend.
Technology plays a significant role in most aspects of today’s society. Technological influences are growing more apparent in the fashion industry. Advances and new developments are shaping and creating current and future trends.
Developments such as wearable technology have become an essential trend in fashion. They will continue with advances such as clothing constructed with solar panels that charge devices and smart fabrics that enhance wearer comfort by changing color or texture based on environmental changes.
The fashion industry is seeing how 3D printing technology has influenced designers such as Iris Van Herpen and Kimberly Ovitz. These designers have been heavily experimenting and developing 3D printed couture pieces. As the technology grows, the 3D printers will become more accessible to designers and eventually, consumers, which could potentially shape the fashion industry entirely.
Internet technology such as online retailers and social media platforms have given way for trends to be identified, marketed, and sold immediately. Styles and trends are easily conveyed online to attract trendsetters. 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. The effects can now be quantified and provide valuable feedback to fashion houses, designers, and consumers regarding trends.
Military technology has played an essential role in the fashion industry. The camouflage pattern in clothing was developed to help military personnel be less visible to enemy forces. A trend emerged in the 1960s, and camouflage fabric was introduced to streetwear. The camouflage fabric trend disappeared and resurfaced several times since then. Camouflage started to appear in high fashion by the 1990s. Designers such as Valentino, Dior, and Dolce & Gabbana combined camouflage into their runway and ready-to-wear collections.
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 relates to 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 pure aesthetic values; fashion is also a medium for performers to create an overall atmosphere and express their opinions altogether through music video. The latest music video ‘Formation’ by Beyoncé, according to Carlos, “The pop star pays homage to her Creole root…. 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.”
Runway show is a reflection of fashion trend and a designer’s thought. For designer 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.”
With increasing environmental awareness, the economic imperative to “Spend now, think later” is getting increasingly scrutinized. Today’s consumer tends to be more mindful about consumption, looking for just enough and better, more durable options. People have also become more conscious of the impact their everyday consumption has on the environment and society, and these initiatives are often described as a move towards sustainable fashion, yet critics argue a circular economy based on growth is an oxymoron, or an increasing 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 employs 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 in order 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.
Female models posing in corporate office wear.
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.
Benefits of primary research is specific information about a fashion brand’s consumer is explored. Surveys are helpful tools; questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. A 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 the consumers will increase a 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.Fashion Designer CSHEON Bags Display in Robinsons Departmental Store Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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. Fashion industry utilizes advertisements to attract consumers and promote its products to generate sales. 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.
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 trend are: Fashion Theory (1997) and Vestoj (2009). 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 immediate became controversial and even led to 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, American worldwide clothing brand. GAP collaborated with Ellen DeGeneres in 2016 for the advertisement. It features playful, four young girls where 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 the 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 mode 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, great 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, micro blogs, 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, 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.
Anthropology, the study of culture and human societies, studies fashion by asking why certain styles are deemed socially appropriate and others are not. A certain way is chosen and that becomes the fashion as defined by a certain people as a whole, so if a particular style has a meaning in an already occurring set of beliefs that style will become fashion. According to Ted Polhemus and Lynn Procter, fashion can be described as adornment, of which there are two types: fashion and anti-fashion. Through the capitalization and commoditisation 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.
The definition of fashion and anti-fashion is as follows: Anti-fashion is fixed and changes little over time. Anti-fashion is different 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 changes very quickly and is not affiliated with one group or area of the world but is spread out 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 the style will change 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 are an example of anti-fashion. Change in fashion is part of the larger system and is structured to be a deliberate change in style.
Today, people in rich countries are linked to people in poor countries through the commoditization and consumption of what is called fashion. People work long hours in one area of the globe to produce things that people in another part of the globe are anxious to consume. An example of this is the chain of production and consumption of Nike shoes, which are produced in Taiwan and then purchased in North America.[clarification needed]. Commodities are no longer just utilitarian but are fashionable, be they running shoes or sweat suits.
The change from anti-fashion to fashion because of the influence of western consumer-driven civilization 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 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 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, people increasingly started buying factory made shirts and sarongs. In textile-producing areas the growing of cotton and 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 array of colours. Traditional textiles are also being used in interior decorations and to make handbags, wallets and other accessories, which are considered fashionable by civil servants and their families. There is also a booming tourist trade in the eastern Indonesian city of Kupang where international as well as 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 as an item of fashion.
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.
There has been great debate about politics’ place in fashion and traditionally, the fashion industry has maintained a rather apolitical stance. 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 the masses.
Aiming to “amplify a greater message of unity, inclusion, diversity, and feminism in a fashion space”, 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.
African-Americans in Fashion
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African-Americans have used fashion through the years, to express themselves and their ideas. It has grown and developed with time. African-American influencers often have been known to start trends though modern day social media, and even in past years they have been able to reach others with their fashion and style.
Modern Day Fashion
Celebrities like Rihanna, Lupita Nyong’o, Zendaya, and Michelle Obama have been a few of the many fashion idols in the black female community. For men, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, and Ice Cube have also helped define modern day fashion for black men. Today’s fashion scene is not just clothes, but also hair and makeup. Recent trends have included the embracing of natural hair, traditional clothing worn with modern clothing, or traditional patterns used in modern clothing styles. All of these trends come with the long existing and persevering movement of “Black is Beautiful”.
Early American Fashion
In the mid to end of the 1900s, African American style changed and developed with the times. Around the 1950s is really when the black community was able to create their own distinct styles. The term “Sunday attire” was coined, communities emphasized “Correct” dress, it was especially important when “stepping out” for social occasions with community members, a habit that continues in the early 2000s. Hair-dos and hairstyles also became a fashion statement, for example the “conk” which is hair that is slightly flattened and waved. Afros also emerged and they were often used to symbolize the rejection of white beauty standards at the time. Around the 1970s is when flashy costumes began to appear and black artists really started to define their presences through fashion. Around this time is also when movements started using fashion as one of their outlets.
Movements using Fashion
Civil Rights Movement
Black activists and supporters used fashion to express their solidarity and support of this civil rights movement. Supporters adorned symbolic clothing, accessories and hairstyles, usually native to Africa. Politics and fashion were fused together during this time and the use of these symbolic fashion statements sent a message to America and the rest of the world that African Americans were proud of their heritage. They aimed to send an even stronger message that black is beautiful and they were not afraid to embrace their identities. An example would the Kente cloth, it is a brightly colored strip of cloth that is stitched and woven together to create different accessories. This woven cloth of brightly colored strips of fabric became a strong symbolic representation of pride in African identity for African Americans of the 1960s and later. It was developed into what is called a dashiki, a flowing, loose fitting, tunic style shirt. This cloth became one of the most notorious symbols of this revolution.
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party (BPP) was an essential piece of the Black Power movement that allowed members that were involved advocate for the African American race in different subjects like equality and politics. The BPP members wore a very distinctive uniform: a black leather jacket, black pants, light blue shirts, a black beret, an afro, dark sunglasses, and usually a fist in the air. Their image gave off a very militant like feel to it. This notable uniform was established in 1996, but a different uniform was still in place before; just the sunglasses and leather jackets. Each member wore this uniform at events, rallies, and in their day-today life. Very few members changed the essential parts of the outfit, but some added personal touches such as necklaces or other jewelry that was usually were a part of African culture. The Black Panther uniform did succeeded in intimidating enemies and onlookers and clearly sent a message of black pride and power even though the initial intention of this party was to communicate solidarity among the Black Panther Party members.
Colorism in Fashion
Since the 1970s, fashion models of color, especially black men and women, have experienced an increase in discrimination in the fashion industry. In the years from 1970 to 1990, black designers and models were very successful, but as the 1990s came to an end, the fashion aesthetic changed and it did not include black models or designers. In today’s fashion, black models, influencers, and designers account for one of the smallest percentages of the industry. There are many theories about this lack of diversity, that it can be attributed to the economic differences usually associated with race and class, or it can reflect the differences in arts schooling given to mostly black populated schools, and also blatant racism.
A report from New York Fashion (Spring 2015) week found that while 79.69% of models on the runway were white, only 9.75% of models were black, 7.67% were Asian, and 2.12% were Latina. The lack of diversity also accounts for not only designers but models too, out of four hundred and seventy members of The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) only twelve of the members are black. From the same study on New York Fashion Week, it was shown that only 2.7% of the 260 designers presented were black men, and an even smaller percentage were black female designers. Even the relationship between independent designers and retailers can show the racial gap, only 1% of designers stocked at department stores being people of color. It was also found that in editorial spreads, over eighty percent of models pictured were white and only nine percent were black models. These numbers have stayed stagnant over the past few years.
Many fashion designers have come under fire over the years for what is known as tokenism. Designer or editors will add one or two members on an underrepresented group to help them appear as inclusive and diverse, and to also help them give the illusion that they have equality. This idea of tokenism helps designers avoid accusations of racism, sexism, body shaming, etc.
There are many examples of cultural appropriation in fashion. In many instances, designers can be found using aspects of culture inappropriately, in most cases taking traditional clothing from middle eastern, African, and Hispanic culture and adding it to their runway fashion. Some examples are in a 2018 Gucci runway show, white models wore Sikh headdresses, causing a lot of backlash. Victoria’s secret was also under fire for putting traditional native headdresses on their models during a lingerie runway show. Marc Jacobs sent down models sporting dreadlocks in his spring 2017 New York Fashion Week show, also facing immense criticism.