What Is Fashion?

Fashion is a multifaceted global industry and the term covers clothing, footwear and accessories that are culturally associated with style. It is also a way to identify oneself and to portray an individual’s personality. In the past, certain events and significant historical changes could prompt a shift in trends; for example, Europeans may have favoured Turkish-style garments at one time, Chinese-style garments at another, and Japanese styles at yet another time.

However, for something to be considered “fashion”, it must not just be a passing fad; it should also have an enduring quality that appeals to people, even after the trend has passed. The most popular way for this to happen is when people who have high social status or are popular with the public begin wearing new or different clothes, and others follow suit out of envy or admiration. This is often called “trickle-down” or the “bubble-up” effect.

As the industry becomes increasingly globalized, this process of creating and sharing fashion is becoming even more complex. For example, a designer in Europe might design clothing that is manufactured in China and sold globally. This can create problems with intellectual property laws and with sourcing fabric that is ethically produced. Additionally, the democratization of fashion is further complicated by the growth of fast fashion retailers that offer trendy knock-offs at affordable prices.