The Impact of Fashion on Society and the Environment


Fashion is an aspect of cultural expression and is influenced by both individual creativity, as well as business people who promote trends to consumers for profit. Those who engage in fashionable dress often feel more confident, and are able to express their creative identity through the clothes that they wear. However, many people are concerned about the impact of shifts in fashion on society and the environment. The emergence of continual change in clothing styles can be traced to late medieval times, when the upper classes exploited changing fashions to demonstrate their wealth and social status.

In addition, famous people can influence fashion, such as by wearing particular items of clothing or styles of dress. This can be seen in Albrecht Durer’s painting of a Nuremberg bourgeoise dressed in full regalia, contrasting with a Venetian lady with high chopines to make her appear taller. Fashion also changes to reflect society’s concerns and events, such as the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and the emergence of hip-hop culture in the United States, which was influenced by black culture in the Bronx.

Fashions can become a victim of their own success, as some popular styles eventually become impossible to wear in another era without appearing outdated or costumey. Fashion is a global industry that employs millions of workers around the world in designing, sewing, gluing, dyeing, transporting and selling clothing. In addition, it is a medium for political activism as designers take on social and environmental concerns through their fashion choices.