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Fashion review: factors of influence

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Fashion is a wide term. In simple words, Fashion is what’s trending at a particular time. We constantly see a variety evolving in clothing, hair, shoes and etc. Few days and some new style arrives. We see and snatch ideas from what’s hot and conquering around, it maybe from the movies, videos, television, books, the hoardings, the internet or the celebrities themselves. According to our choices and needs, we chose what we like the best.

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Our clothes and accessories tell a lot about us, the designs we choose may tell if we follow the trend and how we customise stuff for ourselves. For instance, there are people who follow the trends, the trend is fashion to them and there are people who don’t, still they chose what they like, so what they chose and like is fashion to them. There is a category of people who set trends like the celebrities and the designers. Thus, fashion is more personal as it is based on one’s choice with trends or without trends.

Beneath the aura of personal taste and glamour, Fashion is a serious business. Fashion has its own meaning to economists, psychologists and sociologists. To an economist, fashion is ever-changing dynamic scenario as it has potential to make any product obsolete within a certain time span, inducing replacement even though the newer item may or may not function better. A sociologist likely perceives fashion as a product with socio-economic-political factors existing within a country or globally at a given point of time.

The colours we choose may tell the mood we carry and etc. For instance, we usually dress “up” when we’re happy or trying hard to be happy and “down” when we’re upset to care about what we’re wearing. For a psychologist, it could be an expression of personality, human behaviour or a reaction to the surrounding environment. Fashion is a statement that signifies societal preferences created by individual and collective identities. The key to its core strength lies in its aspiration value, which means that people aspire to be fashionable.

In general sense, Fashion is an expression for popular prevailing style or the changes in style occurring across all the cultures, reflected through clothing, hairstyle, accessories and the lifestyle products like, cuisine, furniture, architecture, mode of transportation, vacations, leisure activities etc. In simple words, Fashion is what’s trending, something we are dealing with everyday.

Because the more technical term costume is regularly linked to the term “fashion”, the use of the former has been relegated to special senses like fancy dress or masquerade wear, while “fashion” generally means clothing, including the study of it. Although aspects of fashion can be feminine or masculine, some trends are androgynous. . To become fashion, the costume must reflect the socio-cultural ethos of the time. Definitions of fashion are as follows.

Defining Fashion Malcolm Barnard traces the origin of the word ‘fashion’ to the Latin ‘facere’ which means ‘to make’ or ‘to do’. This includes the dual processes of making and doing, be it clothing or appearance. Fashion has wide-ranging implications, engaging with a multitude of surrounding influences. “The apparel oft proclaims the man.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet

Fashion is more than just clothing; it reflects the wider spectrum of aesthetics, art and design trends in contemporary society. This makes it a multi-faceted word engaging with a range of surrounding influences. In simple terms, fashion is a social process by which newly introduced styles or trends become popular in a certain time with acceptability by a wider cross-section of consumers. “Prevailing style of dress, particularly new designs representing changes from previous seasons” -The Webster International Encyclopedia 1998 “a system that unites individuals, establishes its own rules and offers a social structure in relation to current conditions and societal norms”. -Fashion educationist and writer John Hopkins.

Giorgio Armani: “I’ve tried to find a new elegance. It’s not easy because people want to be shocked. They want explosive fashion. But explosions don’t last; they disappear immediately and leave nothing but ashes… My philosophy is evolution not revolution” Ralph Lauren: “I’ve never been about fashion and trends. I believe in design that has lasting integrity.

Factors influencing fashion

The human mind is anxious and crave for change to reduce boredom. Thus, a demand for newer products starts which leads to changing fashion trends. There is a wide variety of factors influencing the subject fashion. These are social, cultural, psychological, political, geographical, economic and technological factors.

Socio-cultural

Our society and culture are our surroundings where we live and thus has an influence on our lifestyle. Consider this, If A lives in Europe and B lives in India, their clothes, accessories style etc would gradually be different from each other. Religious beliefs and aesthetics are a part of any society and culture. Moreover, we dress up depending on the occasions including festivals and celebrations, for instance, a bride wears gown in England whereas an Indian bride usually wears Lehnga or Saree on her wedding day.

The fashion displays individual status. High culture, low culture and pop culture are the sources of development of changing fashion. Cultural changes like modernization, art and even technological innovation influences fashion a lot. There is a direct interaction between consumer lifestyle, fashion and culture.

High culture involves elite activities like visual art, auditory art, and applied art like photography, design and architecture. In order to influence fashion, these sources bring new types of ideas and concepts to the designers. For example, the evidence of art impacting fashion can be seen in the Louis Vuitton partnership with quite a few contemporary artists, like Takeshi Murakami or Stephen Sprouse, who had bejeweled Louis Vuitton Monogram bags in the past.

Fashion as display of wealth and as the field for high society only confirms first issue of Vogue in 1892 “dignified authentic journal of society, fashion and the ceremonial side of life”. Classic Chic: Music, Fashion, and Modernism (Calif: University of Carolina Press, Berkeley 2008) p 203.

Pop culture or popular culture, is a segment followed, appreciated and understood by a larger world audience. Usually, it is highly influenced by media and celebrities. This culture can be called a mercantile culture because production happens at a mass level for mass consumption. A good example to understand it is looking at the most fashionable TV shows and movies, like ‘Sex and the City’, ‘Rockstar’ and etc. This medium influences the mass so much that everybody wanted to wear clothes like the central characters. With the progress of globalization,the trends are usually common all around the globe (like Levi’s jeans).

Low culture involves local street activities like graffiti and Hip Hop. They are usually not hugely followed as it belongs to a small segment and thus, is not very popular globally. But there is an exception to it. For example, the Japanese Harajuko teenage girls, originally from Tokyo’s Harajuko district, dress in a particularly distinct way, influenced American singer Gwen Stefani, who had named her 2005 world tour and her clothing line after these girls. This way, a local culture became a part of the global fashion and had been adopted globally.

Economic Factors

Economic factors impacts consumers’ buying power. For instance, recession has been hard on employment opportunities. Thousands of people lost their job or agreed to work at lesser wages. With declining availability of money, buying power also declines. Economic fluctuations like slowdown in chinese economy, demonetisation in India etc made an impact on the sales of products. The competition in the industry also affects individual brands and their sales and profits.

Political factors

Political factors marks certainty and stability in the fashion industry. As per the McKinsey report on fashion industry, “Geopolitical instability, terrorism, Brexit, and stalled trade deals will all increase a pervasive sense of uncertainty in the global economy” (McK-BOF, 2017 report). For instance, the fashion brands are still politically challenged in the Middle Eastern countries where political unrest is posing threat to business expansion.

The policy frameworks like Globalization, Liberalisation and privatisation too benefitted the trade in fashion industry by allowing fashion segments with an affordable manner to carry out business globally.

Technological factors

The advent of internet for public in early 1990s gradually marked the transition of manual paper-work to the modern computer based work. With time, internet progressed at an incredible rate that today we shop on internet. Meanwhile, technological advancements worldwide, like android phones, ios software etc, eased global customer outreach to goods and services along with improved production and supply chain.

Evolution of fashion

Fashion in terms of cloths, exists from the very beginning of the mankind and is evolving since man decided to cover its bare skin. Initially, leaves were used as clothing and now, here we are wearing variety of clothes in different shapes and sizes. Today cloths are available in almost all the ranges. Apart from the significance of fashion as an industry with an undeniable global growth and billions annual sales, fashion generates and influences cultural perception and is one of the factors in social and interpersonal relations.

According to statista, an online statistics portal, worldwide revenue in the “Fashion” segment amounts to US$521,507m in 2018. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2018-2022) of 11.0% resulting in a market volume of US$790,533m in 2022. The market’s largest segment is the segment “Apparel” with a market volume of US$340,411m in 2018. In India, textile industry is one of the oldest and the largest source of employment generation as it is labour intensive. The textile industry employs about 105 million people directly and indirectly. It contributes about 14 percent to the industrial production and 4 percent to GDP. The size of India’s textile market as of July 2017 was around US$ 150 billion, which is expected to touch US$ 250 billion market by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 13.58 per cent between 2009-2019.

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