Fashion in the Present

You know what the latest fashion is? This is not about the highly dramatized fashion launches that happen in fashion capitals like New York, Tokyo or Milan. Those are for the high and mighty. The latest fashion discussed here is the trend and style that has become recently popular in your community. As the world shrinks faster, the styles and trends catch on globally even faster. Fashionable styles and trends set in for two reasons. For the attractiveness and comfort the new trend or style provides. Trend usually evolves through use and adoption and style through mass media. Someone thinks of a fresh way to design and wear a dress with new adornments or styles and if it is eye catching and comfortable to wear, the general public emulates it.

Fashionable wear has evolved from human being’s compulsive need to be different. Uniforms can be termed as the precursor to fashion trends. Uniforms were used to convey affiliation to a collective or an ideology. Basically, advertising the person’s belief or affiliation. From there it spread on to different classes of humanity, different occupations and different age groups. Freedom of expression accentuated the yearning for recognition. Mannerisms and dressing is the nonverbal way of expressing yourself. People think of new ways to express themselves and create new styles. When a new way of dressing appeals to mass public, trends form. Herd instinct kicks in and public emulate the new ways of dressing.

Fashion was considered the domain of the leisure class. Those groups of people who do not have to sweat earning their daily bread or rather who does not sweat at all: The ‘silver spoon’ class. To amuse themselves and to show the world what they are, they used to indulge in finding new ways to drape themselves and hear the ‘ooh!s’ and ‘aahs!’ from common people. Fashion was a statement of decadence. The nineteenth century US economist Thorstein Veblen even goes as far as to state that the clothes should not only be expensive but should make it apparent to the casual observer that the wearer engages in no productive activity. Take that for a fashion statement, father of conspicuous consumption! Gradually the scene changed with the nouveau riche taking part in cultural activities. As this class had earned their wealth and not inherited their fortunes, their fashion had a practical side to it. Conceivably they were the trend setters for fashion to fuse with practicality.

Those are old stories. As any other event in human history, fashion evolved and changed faces many a times. The renaissance and industrial revolution enhanced the disposable income of the so called common man. Conspicuous consumption was no more the exclusive domain of the rich. The common man had the time and money to indulge. And the advent of visual media sped up the spread of trends and styles. People wanted to look better and feel better. With money to spend it was not too difficult. Businessmen with the right sense and timing took advantage of the situation and brought the fashion to common mass through mass production techniques. The result is what we see today. Designer fashion wear available for mass consumption.

Being fashionable is good and fashion is a statement of personality. It projects your personality and tastes. Though some trends may catch on for the wrong reasons, all trends are for the common good.