The Industry of Fashion

Fashion is a multifaceted industry, encompassing styles and trends that can be seen in clothing, footwear, accessories, cosmetics, and jewelry. Throughout history, fashion has reflected changes in culture, technology, economics and social conditions. It is a form of self-expression and an indicator of group affiliation and identity, as shown by the way in which Albrecht Durer’s drawings contrast the well-dressed bourgeoise of Nuremberg with the lady in a flowing chiffon dress from Venice and by the popularity of YSL’s 1966 ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo suit.

As a form of communication, fashion influences the masses through media such as fashion magazines, television shows and celebrities. This is known as a ‘trickle-down’ effect, where the masses follow the styles set by a small group of influential people. This group may be made up of royalty, politicians or musicians. Fashion can also be a tool for political revolution, as demonstrated by the uniforms worn during communist revolutions.

The creation of new trends is a key part of the fashion industry. Designers work with trend forecasting agencies to create their collections each season, and brands use institutions such as Pantone to guide them on color choices. The exploitation of these trends to encourage materialistic consumerism is often criticised, but the creation of new styles is not in itself a bad thing. It can help re-embrace individuality and creativity, as seen in the roaring 20s fashion that influenced both men and women to feel free and glamorous.