What Is Fashion?


The principle of permanent and accelerating change governs much of contemporary global life and culture. This constant, accelerating change is epitomized by fashion, a style that defines a particular way of being and wearing clothes at a given moment.

Fashion is a social process that involves the adoption of a discernible proportion of a society as their own way to behave, expressing their values and beliefs in the process. It is a highly complex and nebulous topic, a reflection of our values but also an agent of change, both destructive and creative, perfect and ugly.

For a style to be considered fashionable it must become popular enough for multiple people to wear it simultaneously. It can be as simple as a pair of jeans reappearing on the shelves after a few years of being out of fashion. For example, it was not too long ago that most people were discarding their low rise denim jeans, only to see them reappear as the current ‘fashion’.

Clothes are important as they help tell the story of our world. They have been used to categorize and bind us to our communities, with certain styles becoming popular because of the benefits they offered to members of certain groups. For example, Levi jeans were popular among miners due to their copper rivets which extended the lifespan of their pants.

Similarly, clothing can be used as a tool for self-expression, with expensive brand name clothes being used to distinguish individuals from others. This can be a positive or a negative aspect of fashion, depending on whether it is used to promote individuality or to create a sense of belonging.