Fashion is the style of clothing and accessories worn at any given time by a particular group of people. It is a very mutable and fluid form of expression and is influenced by the environment, social class, age, occupation, gender, geographic location and other factors. Fashion is considered an art form because it involves a combination of creativity, skill and knowledge. The fashion industry is a multibillion dollar global business which includes design, manufacture and sale.
A person’s choice of clothing reflects the individual’s personality and preferences, as well as their current lifestyle. It also shows the person’s social status, as it can be a mark of wealth or inferiority. The way a person dresses can influence the opinions of others, which may in turn affect the popularity of certain styles. A person’s fashion choices can also be affected by their role-set, which may include their responsibilities and activities as parents, partners, friends, lovers, children and students.
The fashion industry is very fast-moving and has a very short turnaround period between what is seen on the runways of Paris, New York or Milan and when it hits the shops. This is because new fabrics, materials and production techniques are often first offered to the exclusive world of haute couture, then gradually trickle down to more mainstream stores. In addition, the Internet has enabled designers to reach a wider audience by offering their clothing online.
Some fashion trends are considered to be fads and come and go very quickly. Other trends have a longer life-cycle and can be more permanent, such as the cut of a dress or the color of a coat. Some enduring clothing styles may even become classics, such as the long-line wool suit that was once considered old-fashioned but is now regarded as sophisticated and timeless.
In the past, changes in fashion were usually triggered by specific events or eras. For example, the hemline of women’s pants rose and fell with the availability of better sewing machines and textiles, while the shape of men’s overcoats changed in response to military models and to the desire for greater comfort in warm weather. In Europe, the start of continuous and accelerating change in clothing styles can be reasonably dated to the late medieval period.
A person’s style may be inspired by the clothes of other people, especially those with a high cultural status. This is why fashionable people are sometimes referred to as fashion icons. Musicians, actors, sports stars, politicians and royalty are all fashion icons who influence the tastes of their followers. In addition, the Internet and television have made celebrities of many ordinary people. People in many countries are able to follow the latest fashion trends by reading fashion magazines and websites, or by watching fashion shows on TV. They can also get information about the latest trends by visiting retail outlets or by talking to other people in their social circle. In addition, there are a number of companies that specialize in researching consumer needs and providing them with the latest trends.