What is Fashion?


Fashion is a cultural system that governs how people dress and interact. It involves the creation, selection and presentation of clothing, footwear and accessories to create a distinctive look that communicates to others who a person is and what they believe. Fashion is often linked to social status, wealth and power. It can also be seen as a tool for social change and resistance.

Fashions are often influenced by the zeitgeist, or the general mood of a time. They may reflect historical events or political movements. Fashions also have a tendency to come and go in cycles. They can be “in fashion” at one point and then suddenly be considered “out of style” in the next.

For example, ripped jeans and a band T-shirt might be in fashion now but they will probably be out of style again in a few months. The ebb and flow of trends is what makes fashion so exciting for many people. But the way in which it is marketed and sold can be problematic. Fashion is a global industry and as such is consumed by millions of consumers all over the world. As a result there is an extremely fast turnaround between when something is seen on the catwalk or in celebrity media and when it hits the shops. This has led to a rise in ‘fast-fashion’ brands such as H&M and Zara who take the latest trends from higher end designers, produce them cheaply, and then sell them at a lower price than their designer counterparts.

The current fashion industry is based on capitalization and commoditization of a variety of different items, including garments, footwear and accessories. This has blurred the lines between fashion and anti-fashion, as expressions that were once outside of the changing cycles of fashion now find themselves swept up into them and used to signify new meanings. These can include everything from how tattoos travel from sailors and labourers into mainstream culture to how elements of ethnic wear become part of haute couture.

The current fashion industry is also characterized by the fetishism of objects and the way they are displayed. It is a form of objectification where the product becomes more important than its function and where the production and marketing processes obscure the true cost of what is being bought. This can be seen in the glossy pages of magazines where clothes are depicted as if they were jewels in a bright cellophane wrapper. As such, it has been described as epitomising post-truth.