What Is Fashion?

Fashion is the style or manner in which people dress. It varies according to time, place, and individual taste. Fashions may be inspired by the arts, music, and popular culture, and can reflect social and political changes. Some fashions are short-lived, while others endure for longer periods of time. Fashions can also be influenced by geography, climate, and demographic factors. A person’s choice of clothes may be a reflection of their personality, beliefs, or values. In the past, clothing was used as a marker of a person’s status in society. Judges wear robes, soldiers wear uniforms, and brides wear white dresses.

Modern Westerners have many choices in the selection of their clothes. The clothing they choose can reveal their personalities, as well as indicate their social or cultural status. A new fashion trend often starts when a person of high social status begins wearing different clothes or styles. People who like or respect these people can be influenced to start wearing clothes of a similar style, and the trend may spread.

The earliest examples of continuously changing fashions in clothes can be dated to late medieval times. At that time, European men’s clothes were largely derived from military models. Changes in clothing styles became more pronounced during the early 19th century. These changes were driven by the growing availability of inexpensive fabrics and advances in production technology.

The fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise. Millions of people work in the design, manufacture, and distribution of clothing. They work at the level of haute couture and everyday mass-market fashions, but the line between the two is blurred. The design of a garment is done in one country, manufactured in another, and shipped to stores around the world.