Fashion is the prevailing style of dress and adornment in a culture at a given time. It can also refer to the styles and trends in music, art, or other cultural phenomena. The word comes from the Latin phrase “facere” meaning to make or fashion. Fashions are often influenced by social, political and economic conditions. They can vary between regions and across time periods. They can also be affected by the weather.
People wear clothes to communicate information about their identity and status in society. They may choose to wear certain clothes for functional reasons, such as keeping warm or covering up modesty, or for aesthetic reasons, such as displaying wealth or taste. The choice of clothing can also indicate a person’s social status within a group, such as by wearing a suit in business meetings or a turban for religious occasions. The fashion industry is a major source of employment and a source of economic wealth worldwide. It has also been a vehicle for political activism, such as when designer Ralph Lauren supported the anti-war movement in America by designing a line of casual clothing called “Police” with embroidered messages that told the US government to get out of Vietnam.
In modern times, fashion changes rapidly. Designers and manufacturers create new styles to cater to consumer demands, and these styles are then advertised through media outlets such as television shows and magazines. The most famous of these fashion magazines is Vogue, founded in 1902 and still published in the United States, although other women’s and men’s magazines have come and gone over the years. It is widely believed that fashion trends reflect societal change and the financial interests of designers and manufacturers, but recent research suggests that people’s internal taste mechanisms drive many changes in fashion independently of external influence.
The fashion industry tries to keep itself ahead of its consumer base by predicting what will be popular in the future. It also tries to encourage customers to change their habits by offering them new styles that they may want to try. These efforts are aided by the availability of cheap labor and mass production techniques, which allow designers to sell clothing at prices that most consumers can afford.
It is nearly impossible to trace the evolution of a particular fashion, such as a miniskirt, from its origin in the streets of 1960s England to the runways of Paris and Milan. This is because most fashions are not designed to be exclusive; they are copied by the masses, making it difficult to distinguish between what is high and low fashion.
The most significant influences on fashion tend to be the social, political and cultural changes that occur in a country or region. For example, the introduction of foreign goods to Europe in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries could trigger changes in fashion in the native European clothing styles. Fashions also change in response to the discovery of new materials or of different sources for existing materials, such as the advent of cotton as a substitute for silk in dresses.