Fashion is a global phenomenon, permeating all aspects of culture and influencing many aspects of people’s lives. It is not just about clothes, but also about hairstyles, shoes, jewelry and even language. Changes in fashion can reflect societal changes, or the financial interests of designers and manufacturers. It can also serve as a means of identity for groups. For example, a group of young people might identify themselves as goths, skaters or preps, and their clothing will reflect those identities. In addition, fashion can be used as a form of social control by imposing uniformity. For example, judges wear robes, military personnel wear uniforms and brides traditionally wear white dresses.
Fashion can be influenced by the media, celebrities, and the general public. It can also be dictated by an elite group, such as royalty or political figures. For example, in the 1700s, the public pored over fashion magazines to see what royalties and politicians were wearing. Musicians and other cultural icons have a similar influence on their fans.
For something to be considered “fashionable,” it needs to be widely circulated and embraced by the masses. That is why there is a critical Catch-22 built into fashion: Once enough people adopt a fashion, it becomes too common and eventually fades from popularity. This can occur as quickly as the next new season’s styles. It is this ebb and flow that makes fashion so fascinating, but it can be hard on the clothing industry as a whole.