Fashion is the prevailing mode of expression in clothing, hair style, speech, and other cultural elements. It varies over time and across geographic regions. It is influenced by social and economic changes. It includes the styles that people wear or styles of dress that are popular at any given moment and is often seen as a mirror of society’s attitudes and values.
The industry of fashion is a multibillion-dollar enterprise dedicated to designing, manufacturing and selling clothes. It includes the high fashion shown in Paris and New York and the mass-produced styles sold in malls and markets worldwide. In recent decades, it has become increasingly globalized, with designers creating clothing in one country and manufacturing and distributing it in another.
Clothes are not only for covering our bodies and gratifying our vanity; they can also serve as symbols of status, era, or mood. The miniskirt, for example, came to symbolize freedom and emancipation for women, while the cassock or nun’s robe symbolized humility and renunciation of vanity.
Fashion is often influenced by pop culture, and celebrities become fashion icons by wearing certain designer brands. But it is more often a response to the events in a person’s life. A political revolution, for example, might inspire a shift in fashions. The bare midriffs and baggy pants of 90210, for instance, were a reaction to the changing social and political climate in America. But it’s impossible to know in advance exactly how trends will shift — whether the qipao (formal dress) of China will move from stand collars and trumpet sleeves to body-hugging silhouettes with long side slits, or the leotards of Russia will be replaced by fur coats.