Fashion is a general term for the changing styles of clothing, footwear and accessories. The industry that creates these trends and sells them to the public is known as the fashion business. Fashion is often influenced by cultural and social changes, as well as by economic conditions. Fashion may also refer to a particular style or period of dress, often distinguished by a characteristic look.
In semiotics, fashion is seen as a symbolic system that communicates with signs through the garment’s style, color, and patterning. It can be used to communicate a person’s status or wealth, and it can reflect cultural norms and values. For example, a tailored suit can communicate power and formality, while ripped jeans and a t-shirt can communicate casualness and youth. Fashion can also be used to criticize or challenge dominant cultural norms and values.
Clothes can be categorized by the role they play in a person’s life, such as work, school, and social activities. For example, a boy with green hair and multiple piercings wearing a leather jacket and studded t-shirt might signal rebellion and distance from a mainstream culture. This can create stereotyping and social class divisions within a society.
The earliest evidence of continual and accelerating change in Western clothing styles dates from the late medieval period. The evolution of textile and clothing production can be attributed to factors such as new fibres, yarns and fabrics; improved sewing techniques; and the development of machines that speeded up and simplified the manufacture of cloth. Clothes rationing during the Second World War brought a significant change in fashion and style as manufacturers had to follow strict specifications. After the war, fashion accelerated further with the development of new dyes and fabrics, changing silhouettes, and introducing new fabrics and finishing methods.