Nov 21, 2008, 4:04 AM
Statements like ‘You are what you wear’ or ‘the clothes make the person’ are ones that I have heard uttered. Chances are you have too. Personally, I do not subscribe to these loosely spoken and commodity driven phrases. However, it does draw my attention to the reality of the world we live in and the statements that our wardrobe makes about us and how many are judged by their appearance. Who is adorning what, by who, in which shade or colour and time or season has been deemed key and it would be crazy to pretend otherwise even if one does not agree with it. It is the Fashion web spun by the industry.
The Fashion Industry is without a doubt one of the biggest and most thriving sectors in the global economy with billions of dollars invested and the same or probably more recorded in revenue and profit every year in the various stock exchanges or markets around the world, not to mention that which there is no record of. Inevitably, it is also the source of employment for legions around the world.
The term Fashion is generally used to describe a popular style or practice specifically but not limited to clothing, foot wear, jewellery and other accessories or adornments. It is loosely basically anything that is the current trend in look or dress up of people. I would go so far as to say it also covers things such as appliances with emphasis on mobile technologies such as cellular phones, laptops, notebooks, with the latest versions, upgrades or inventions being deemed more ‘fashionable’ that their predecessors.
Fashion in itself is a phenomenon that has evolved since its dawn both drastically and frequently. Today, it is dictated in terms of age, generation, gender, culture, social class, occupation, time and quite strongly on what the pacesetters, either Fashion Designers or people in the public eye who possess some cultural status determine. It is in this way that a trend is commenced with individuals who look up to or admire them, perhaps in the capacity of role models or in others obsessively, emulating them. Of course, not everyone goes by these dictates, opting to cater to their own likes and preferences (refusing to cater to the fashionista syndrome or become a fashion victim, which is where a person single-mindedly and slavishly follows a current trend) even if it goes against what is currently ‘vogue’. What an individual decides to adorn their body with is a direct reflection of their own unique personality. Regardless, it is still fashion.
One cannot say when fashion was ‘invented’ or came into ‘being’ because it simply has been around since forever, since humanity began I believe. What can be pinpointed or gauged is when it began to gain such prominence, which was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, growing with time right up to the phase it is in right now. And it keeps evolving every day.
It would be prudent to say that the Fashion Industry is the result of a combination of different factors primary the modernization (prior to this clothes were hand made and as such ‘custom made’ by dressmakers), the development of advanced technologies like the sewing machine, capitalism and inevitably, mass production of garments and accessories when before it was difficult or impossible. Its main levels are the production and availability of raw materials like the key fabrics, the production of the products for consumption, sale of the products and key to that, advertisement and promotion. This is where the Media comes in, in the form or newspaper, TV and radio adverts to the more viral internet where products are critiqued. Fashion Television shows are the norm today.
Fashion Journalism has also grown with magazines such as ‘Vogue” being the longest lasting and most prominent of its kind. Outlasting many before and after it. It and other such magazines not only reflect the current trends in clothing but perfumes too and other body items like cosmetics, a side of the fashion industry which is drastically growing to the point of matching the clothing element of the couture business.
These magazines are devoured by millions of people all over the world, especially teenagers and young women, led to believe that the ‘right’ look can only be found within their glossy pages.
Just as there are the major financial capitals, the Fashion Industry has its own; the four major being Milan, New York City, Paris and London where Fashion Weeks are held annually. Designers (such as Jean P Gautier, Ellie Saab, Valentino, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Donna Karen New York DKNY, Versace etc, etc.) showcase their latest inventions at these events, given form by Models and attended by many.
So if you are one of the many impressionable who feel like you have to look a certain way or have a certain thing before you can be whole, remember, it is a business, merchandise combined with targeted groups plus the right marketing, a billion dollar industry. It wants you, the final consumer to believe that you just have to have what it is offering. If you believe that, they are definitely doing their job right. But always consider what is RIGHT for YOU.
Wear the clothes, don’t let them wear you!