Fashion is a cultural phenomenon, a medium that transmits information about social changes. As an aesthetic, it is a way of representing the body and gratifying vanity. But it is also a powerful symbol that can be used to express ideologies. For example, the miniskirt became a symbol of feminism and women’s rights to show their bodies. Conversely, the cassocks worn by nuns can signify a renunciation of vanity. Changes in fashion are a reflection of the subtle and often hidden network or forces that operate on a society.
Fashion can be seen in all areas of life, from the way we dress to the language we use. It varies in different geographic regions and even among age groups within the same society. It is influenced by media and by the people themselves, who in turn influence and create new trends.
One of the main factors that drive changes in fashion are societal and financial interests of designers and manufacturers. As a result, they have to work far ahead of ‘consumer buying periods’ in order to anticipate what will be the next big thing.
Fashion can be defined as a popular or latest style of clothing, hair, decoration and manner of behaviour. The word ‘fashion’ is derived from the Latin term ‘factio’ which means to make into a particular form. It later developed into Old French variants such as fechoun, ficon and facon before arriving at Middle English as fashion.