One of the most stable industries in the contemporary society is the fashion industry. Fashion, because it manifests and affects every person, is one of the aspects that holds strong influence over the society. As the society undergoes changes, fashion is also subjected to these changes. And as such, there are people who merely abide with the current trends because of the dictates and influence of the mass media. Fashion is a way through which a person expresses his or her identity; as such, it is believed that the clothes that people wear is an extension of their personality.
The clothes manifests the people’s values, attitudes and behavior. In school, cliques and groups can be identified by means of their clothes. One can already judge a person’s personality through his or her looks which primarily consists of clothes and other fashion accessories that one wears. Fashion is considered as a phenomenon to dress up oneself; but it is also a reflection of the things that are currently happening in the society because it conforms to the present changes and the behavior of a particular society.
It reflects the current popular culture as well as the alterations that are taking place in the society. People try to express their emotions, ideas and principles through various ways. Some people make use of various art forms as their own channel of expression. As individuals pursue alternative ways of expressing themselves, the concept of fashion becomes the best vehicle to bridge this pursuit. Fashion is something that every person has within him or herself. The clothes that people wear say something about themselves, regardless if they are or are not aware of the latest fashion trends.
For every human being, it is one’s natural desire to achieve his or her own identity. As such, one would always wish to become a person who could stand out from the rest of the crowd. This goal is the reason behind every person’s fashion statements, especially the youth nowadays. However, the one thing that is certain is that fashion constantly changes. These fashion fads, trends and style undergo various changes over time. As such, the members of the society are constantly bombarded with new and innovative ideas in the world of fashion.
Thus, it is a necessity for fashion agents to be always full of creative ideas that they can sell in the market (Alina, 2004). “Fashion is a means of self-expression that allows people to try on many roles in life. Whether you prefer hip-hop or Chanel-chic, fashion accommodates the chameleon in all of us” (Public Broadcasting Service, n. d. ). As such, fashion does reflect the values within a particular society of culture. It provides a certain non-verbal way of communicating and presenting oneself to the public.
It serves as an extension one’s personality and identity. For example, a woman who wears Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent wardrobes and accessories can be perceived as a wealthy, sophisticated woman and a socialite. On the other hand, a man who prefers rugged jeans and tight-fitting shirts would probably be judged as a rough troublemaker. Thus, a person’s unique fashion statement clearly labels his or her personality in the community. As such, the clothes that one wears largely speak of his or her own self. Thus, clothing is indeed a powerful silent communicator.
Some people argue that fashion does not depict the reality and may be utilized to conceal the unpleasant attributes of a person. People dress up in order to hide the things that they or other people dislike with them. Fashion may not also always reflect the person’s true identity because it can act as a form of disguise. Rather than speaking of the person’s real identity, people can use fashion to project an image that they want other people to perceive about them. As such, fashion plays an important role in the society and culture.
Fashion is the basis or the foundation of everything that people do. In addition, fashion sets the standards of people’s activities. There is appropriate clothing style in every activity that people do; for example, people wear uniforms for their jobs in order to feel comfortable in doing their works. In most time, majority of the members of the society attempt to match their clothing, pets and even the food that they eat to what is considered as fashionable (Book Rags, 2006). Fashion also reflects society; some of the cultural characteristics are seen in the current fashion trends and styles.
Fashion is embedded in the society and may be regarded as an important part of a whole. Scholars argue that, “Fashion does not directly or simplistically reflect the times; the fact that it is always and everywhere situated within a society and culture” (Entwistle, 2000, p. 80). The authors suggest that “fashion” is a connected concept from “society”. As such, fashion is directly related to the society because fashion is within the context of the society itself. “Fashion is embedded within culture and cannot be isolated as an independent variable” (Entwistle, 2000, p. 81).
Thus, fashion changes along with the development of one’s society and culture; therefore, it is a part of a society or rather inculcated within it. In history, American garments are much different from today which is because of the fact that natives’ dresses and accessories are part of the culture. Natives and tribes wore beads or animal teeth around their neck as it is part of a certain tradition. Clothes, aside from being a basic necessity of the people, is also an integral part of cultural traditions and practices. Some of the clothes are the traditional clothing of a particular place.
Fashion is culturally-initiated and it reflects the lifestyles of the members of the society. Like the bone and teeth that served as the accessories of the native Americans, it also showed how the people before hunt for food which is the main characteristic of their lifestyle. However, fashion or clothing is not an entirely reliable reflection of the society. The fashion statement of a person is an individual decision on how he or she would like to be perceived by others. Thus, the authenticity of this act can be doubted.
The reliability of fashion requires the person’s honesty in dressing according to his or her own socio-economic status. Many people do otherwise; indeed, there are people who do not want to reveal their true socio-economic state because of several personal reasons. Nonetheless, according to Virginia Woolf in her novel Orlando, “it is clothes that wear us and not we them” (ctd. in Ribeiro, 2006, p. 348). Ribeiro (2006) adds in her description that, “she [Virginia] knew how dress carries within itself its own history of the past and dictates people’s expectations of us as wearers” (p.
348). Evidently, wardrobes have their own history as time progresses. The fact that societies with unstable mobility do have trends with regard to dressing shows that their fashion says a lot about them. It still identifies them as a group because of the uniformity of the way they put on and design their clothes. One of the many examples of how fashion reflects the modern society is in terms of consumerism. Before, people conserve as much it is possible; however, nowadays – just like the ever-changing fashion trends – people also try to change a lot about themselves.
Consumerism is the offspring of advertising. Modern advertisements are too successful and effective in their field that they have influenced a great quantity of people to think that some “unnecessary” products are actually necessary. From a psychological perspective, it is believed that “[in] a sense, ‘consuming’ fulfills needs that will require other ways of being satisfied in a post-consumer society: the need to belong, the need for variety in life, the need to control your personal environment and your work” (Collis et. al. , 2009). In some countries, groups are identified through their clothes.
The members of high-class society is perceived to wear elegant and extravagant clothing combined with various expensive ornaments. On the other hand, the members of the urban poor or those who live in poverty can be identified due to the filthy clothing they wear. People’s basic needs have extended from the concept of physical survival to the expensive concept of narcissism. Social and emotional needs are apparently the reasons why people engage in consumerism. As modern advertising progresses, people are becoming more influenced to consume and buy products that they do not really need.
Fashion becomes synonymous to consumerism because as fashion trends change, consumers also avail of more market products to adapt to the change. Fashion is an integral part of society that reflects different principles, ideas and even stature in life. However, it is not a reliable mirror of society because of its ability to conceal the true self of the one who wears it. Moreover, the current fashion trends and styles do not cater for all members of the society. Rather, it caters only to the agents and perpetrators of these fashion trends.
People are somehow defined through the clothes they wear; however, their attitude and behavior is still the most reliable source and reflection of one’s personality. References Alina, Y. (2004). Fashion in Modern Society. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from http://nota. triwe. net/teachers/tolstikova/students06. htm Book Rags. (2006). The Importance of Fashion in U. S. Culture. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from http://www. bookrags. com/essay-2006/8/10/234130/814 Collis, C. , Cooper, S. , Fitzgerald, P. , Lawson, J. , Purkiss, J. , Ryan, J. & Thomas, A. (n. d. ).
How can we change consumerism?. Never enough anti consumerism campaign: a critical look at consumerism, poverty, and the planet. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from http://www. enough. org. uk/enough08. htm Entwistle, J. (2000). The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress and Modern Social Theory. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. Public Broadcasting Service. (n. d). What is Fashion? Retrieved May 19, 2009, from http://www. pbs. org/newshour/infocus/fashion/whatisfashion. html Ribeiro, A. (2006). Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.