What is Fashion?
Fashion can be defined as the ideal of beauty currently accepted by a given segment of the population.
Fashion comes from the Latin word, ‘Facere’ which means to make/do. Fashion is what we visualize. It is one’s own thinking or feeling regarding clothes/ garments, jewellery, accessories, hairstyle, footwear, makeup, and body. It means anything that can be in form of comfort, style, creativity, change, etc. It changes season to season and time to time.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Fashion?
- 2 Fashion Meaning
- 3 Definitions of Fashion
- 4 Types of Fashion
- 5 Difference between Style, Fashion and Trend
- 6 Fashion Cycle
- 7 Factors affecting Fashion
Fashion can be anything that is approached and utilized by a group of people together for a particular thing at a particular time. It takes many efforts to create a particular fashion. The efforts may be from a team or from an individual designer. Nowadays fashion changes very fast and is becoming more and more diversifying.
Fashion changes from country to country and region-wise as people have their own fashion and style. India is a diversified country with many different religions, traditions, cultures, etc. So, in India, there is a large scope for different types of fashion and trends. Indian designers have significantly contributed at the national and international levels for the fashion industry.
India enjoys a prominent place in the world for its traditional handloom, creativity, rich skills, beautiful textures and vibrant dyes. The designer’s design and create clothes which are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. They have many options and combinations of fabrics, a wide range of colours, textures, and patterns to choose from. They must consider who is going to wear it and the situation in which it will be worn.
Definitions of Fashion
“We are defining fashion as a changing style of dress and appearance that are adopted by a group of people at any given time and place.” – Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun
A style that is accepted and used by the majority of a group at any one time, no matter how small that group is a fashion.
A popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour.
Types of Fashion
Apparel is made in a style that continues to be fashionable over a long period of time, and that may return as high fashion at regular intervals. When revived, classic fashions retain the basic line of the original style, but are sometimes altered in minor details.
Short-lived fashion that becomes suddenly extremely popular, remains for a short period of time, and fades quickly. Fads in India: India’s traditional six-yard wonder is igniting imaginations anew. The sari, say fashion designers, can be worn over a pair of jeans or jazzed up with a sexy slim belt for a trendy look.
French term commonly used in English meaning new, unconventional, ahead of its time. Used as an adjective to describe apparel that may be provocative or surprising.
A French term for business in which original apparel designs are created by designers & the items are manufactured in the design house using exceptionally fine sewing & tailoring and expensive fabrics.
Haute couture (French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking”) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.
Firms create models that may be sold to private customers or other segments of the fashion industry who also acquire the right to reproduce other designs. Designers show at least 2 collections a year of original designs to the public. An original design is not the only one of its kind but means only that the garment was designed and made in the atelier of the designer.
Difference between Style, Fashion and Trend
A style is a distinctive characteristic of an individual. It is an innovative or different mode of presenting oneself among others. It exists in the distinctive appearance of garments, speech, walking style, home decor, table manners, writing or behaviour of a person. It may be for a short term or a longer period of time. A style may come and go in fashion, but that particular style always remains the same whether it is in fashion or not.
The meaning of style may vary from person to person. Like, a style for one person may be reflected in his/her garments, makeup and footwear, and for another person, a style may be reflected in his/her speech, in the words chosen by that person, or in the way he/she behaves among the people. So, it may happen that a person may not be particularly fashionable, but he/she can be stylish by any of the ways.
In the fashion industry, the meaning of style for manufacturers and retailers can be a number assigned to each individual product manufactured. For e.g., style number 123 of a kurti can be utilized to identify it for manufacturing and ordering purposes. As the style of any particular garment becomes popular, variations of it are produced by other manufacturers.
No one can identify an exact period of any style to be in fashion. It can last longer for any particular garment or it may last for a short period of time. The elements that define style include colour, cut, texture, pattern, silhouette, details, etc. The designers, marketers, retailers use their experience, knowledge, creativity, and training to classify people’s styles.
Fashion is a force, a powerful force that influences everyone’s life. Fashion is ever-changing. It is as old as time and as new as tomorrow.
A specific fashion is a particular style that is popular at a given time. A particular segment/ group of people approach and accept any particular fashion for some period of time. The influence of fashion may be from celebrities like actors, actresses, singers, political leaders, etc. The people who want to be the first to adopt the newest fashion and designs are known as early adopters. Those who reject the current fashion are either labelled old fashioned or anti-fashioned.
Some of the examples of the latest fashion are – long jacket style kurta set, pant style salwar set, palazzo and flared Kurti, ready to wear sarees, asymmetrical hemline, etc.
Fashion is not static, there is always a movement and that movement always has a direction. The direction in which fashion is moving is called fashion trends.
A fashion trend is a direction in which fashion is moving. It can be towards the acceptance of people or away from the acceptance of people. A fashion trend may last for a longer period of time if a large number of people adopt that particular fashion, or it can be for a moderate to a short period of time.
Fashion trends play a very important role in forecasting market demand and sales. The designers, manufacturers, and marketers try to determine the direction of fashion trends. The important decisions like whether to actively promote fashion, to wait or to abandon the product can be made on the basis of trends
Some of the examples of the latest trends in garments and details are – ruffled and layered palazzo, denim palazzo with slits, printed lehenga set, bell sleeves in western tops, Kurti, and blouses, etc.
Every human being has a life cycle and they pass through different stages of life from birth to death. In the same way, fashion also has a life cycle and it also passes through various stages of life.
The fashion cycle means the time period during which fashion exists. The word “cycle” suggests a circle. However, the fashion life cycle is represented by a bell-shaped curve. Every fashion passes through the main five stages of its life which are given below.
- Introduction Stage
- Rise / Growth Stage
- Rejection / Obsolescence
At every different stage of a fashion life cycle, there are various factors that play a very important role. So the designers, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, etc. have to pay attention to all these factors.
Those important factors are the design and style of garment, production quantity, quality, advertisement, awareness of people regarding fashion, sales and profit, etc. At every individual stage of a fashion life cycle, different factors can play different roles.
The time span of stages of the fashion life cycle can vary as per the acceptance of any particular fashion by the people. So no one can exactly estimate the exact time duration for a particular fashion and the stage regarding it. Any stage can last for a long time or it may last for a short period of time.
The fashion cycle is an important guide for designers and fashion merchandising. The rise and fall in the fashion cycle may be gradual or sharp; the peak may be narrow or wide. Although no one graph can depict the life story of all fashions accurately, all would have a wave-like appearance. It is impossible to pinpoint the exact starting or end of a specific fashion.
The new fashion may be introduced by a designer in the form of a new style, pattern, colour, or texture. These new styles are almost always introduced at a very high price. The quantity of garments is very limited to test the new style’s appeal to the targeted customers. In the beginning stage, fashion leaders and early adopters start accepting the new fashion.
The test period ends when the new style is either accepted and gets a rise in selling or when it is rejected by the customers. In the first stage of introduction, fashion is adopted by the people who like it or who can afford to be the first with what is new.
Rise or Growth Stage
When the new original design is accepted by an increasing number of customers, it is considered to be in its rising stage.
More people want to buy those newly designed garments. At this stage, the manufacturers copy the designer apparel with some modifications, less costly fabrics, minimal details and start the mass production. Because of mass production, the cost of the garments reduces and a majority of the customers can afford it at a less price. So it results in more sales and profit.
Fashion is at its most popular and accepted stage. At this stage of the fashion cycle, more and more people purchase it. The prices are not necessarily low at this stage but are in the range of most customers; so mass production, distribution, selling takes place.
Additional efforts like advertising can be helpful to sustain fashion longer at the peak stage. The change in details, design, the addition of more colours and texture can fetch more fruitful results and if the fashion survives longer in the peak stage then it can become classic.
When boredom with a specific fashion sets in, the result will be a decrease in customer demands for that fashion. This is known as the decline stage.
It is a principle of fashion that all fashion ends in excess. It is also that excess ends the fashion. In this stage, the consumers may still be wearing it, but they are no longer willing to purchase it.
The merchandisers and manufacturers recognize the end of peak stage and decrease the production quantities, mark down the price of merchandise and promote more sales promotion activities and offers.
Rejection or Obsolescence Stage
This stage is the end of fashion cycle. The price of the merchandise is low, but the consumers are no longer willing to buy it. When the merchandise can no longer be sold at any given price, the fashion is in its obsolesce stage.
Customers start searching for a new look, design, and style. It is the stage of the end of prevailing fashion; meanwhile, other newer fashions are going through an earlier stage of their fashion cycle.
Factors affecting Fashion
Fashion is a constant and dynamic process. There are many different internal and external factors which affect fashion. The result generally leads to either acceptance of fashion by people or change in it. Everything that one purchase, uses, acquires, wears or owns has to be innovative and creative. The fashion scenario is a reflection of current market trends and the taste, preferences, likes or dislikes of people. So, various factors which affect fashion are as below.
- Age and Gender
- Culture and Religion
- Socio-economy Class
- Time Period
Age and Gender
Age and gender play an important role as affecting factors to fashion. Gender wise people approach the fashion that prevails in the market. Age also influences the selection of clothing and fashion. An individual usually selects the fashion which is in line with his/her age category in their life cycle.
For e.g., a teenager might purchase clothing which is of the latest fashion whereas an elderly person would go for clothing selection which offers more comfort. Whereas professionals pay attention to the latest fashion yet they would tend to prefer the clothing which is decent and makes them appear well-groomed.
Culture and Religion
The culture and religion of any country play a significant role in the acceptance of any fashion. In some culture and religions, people are free to wear clothing which is suitable in society as per the choice of individuals. In some cases, people tend to follow the traditions and religious laws which regulate the behaviour of people.
In India, there are different states available with their unique style of clothing. Each state has its own clothing style, with distinct decorative styles too.
For example, in Gujarat, famous clothing for females are saree, chaniya choli, kurti salwar, etc and for males – dhoti and jabhha. In Rajasthan traditional costumes for females are ghaghra, choli, and for males, it is kurta and pajama with paghadi (turban of cotton fabric). In West Bengal, females wear saree (white coloured saree with red border) and males wear kurta with ankle-length dhoti with tucks at the front or backside of the dhoti.
Thus, various states have their own style dressing, but as fashion moves in a new direction with the latest trends and styles, people usually incorporate it in their costumes.
Geographical factor affects fashion in many ways. It can be divided into two parts as rural and urban areas. Fashion can be accepted and generalized in an urban area at a higher speed than a rural area. The reason behind it can be more accessible to the information and entertainment media in the urban area.
So, the people who live in an urban area can become aware of the latest fashion and can accept & adapt it easily. At rural areas, the reach of fashion is slow and low too.
Psychological factors are all about the individual’s perception, likes, dislikes, tastes, preferences, values, and beliefs. It includes self-confidence, awareness about the latest fashion, fashion leadership, shopping behaviour, spending ability, and habit, etc.
The latest fashion and styles are the means through which an individual can express unique personalities. Fashion leaders are more fashion-forward and approach and adopt the latest fashion in a very early stage of the fashion cycle. Fashion followers are the people who accept fashion when it reaches to the peak stage of the fashion cycle. Thus, the psychological behaviour of people affects fashion.
Income plays an important role in society. Higher the income, the more the purchasing power. So, with high income, people can spare more money on stylish and fashionable apparel. Designer clothes are relatively more expensive than mass-produced apparel.
So, the people with high socio-economy class can go for designer labelled clothes where the people with medium to low income may go for the mass-produced clothes at reasonable prices which are fashionable also.
The selection of clothing and fashion changes as per the environment. The different environmental conditions include too hot, too cold, rains, normal temperature, etc. In this factor, one person will not use the same kind of clothing in different climatic conditions. The selection of clothing and fashion depends upon the environmental condition.
The world is moving in direction of latest technologies every day. In the fashion industry, technology plays a very significant role. Latest machines for designing and production make it easy to produce designer dresses very precisely. The different medium of technologies like smartphones, computers, internet, television, etc. make people aware regarding the latest fashion and style. Nowadays, different social media platforms are booming and people use it to know about current fashion and then accept it.
Celebrities influence the general public. Celebrities can be from the entertainment industry (actor, actress, model, singer, dancer, designer, etc.), political leader, and business tycoons. Celebrities use to wear the latest and unique fashioned clothes which appeal to common people. People usually copy the clothing style, hairstyle, makeup, etc. from celebrities.
Men and women are complex creatures to understand. People usually get bored with what they already have. They get tired of the same designs, patterns, lines, colours, fabrics, and textures. So, there must be something new and different offered to people from time to time. The new fashion appears refreshing to people. That’s why there is always some change in fashion as time passes and what is new for today will become old or outdated tomorrow.
Occupation is an important factor which affects fashion. Different people may engage in different occupations, so their clothing should be according to their occupation. For example, a doctor wears simple clothes with a white long overcoat, and a nurse wears a white or light coloured uniform.
A gym instructor should wear loose and comfortable clothes, which can be suitable for them to demonstrate the exercise. The costumes for dance academy should be comfortable and in proper fitting, very loose clothes or clothes with much flare may disturb the person at the time of dance practice. Office wear should be simple, sober, neat and clean.
Thus, different occupation requires different types of clothes as per their work demand. All people used to select fashionable garments according to their occupation. So, their work won’t get disturbed because of unsuitable clothes.
An occasion is a factor which affects fashion directly. One should select the clothes as per the occasion. Different occasion requires different types of garments. So it is not enough to wear the latest fashionable clothes only, but that clothes must be in accordance with the occasion.
For example, heavy, bright coloured & embroidered costumes are suitable for wedding and festival celebrations, where as simple and comfortable clothes are suitable for travelling. They should be easily washable. At the time of mourning or death, one should wear white, black or dull-coloured clothes.