Why Do Fashions in Clothes Change?
Fashions in clothes change for almost as many different reasons. Among the chief causes are changes in the kind of work we do, the cost and availability of the materials used and the invention of new materials, such as man-made fibres. The attitude of different societies towards the body and how much of it should be displayed is also important. For example, if a girl in the Middle Ages had worn a mini-skirt she would have been regarded as either mad or wicked.
Social standards change from age to age and from country to country. There have been dramatic changes in fashion in our century, partly owing to the availability of new and cheap materials and partly because this generation believes that clothes should be a matter of personal choice, and comfortable as well as attractive. Many of the fussy clothes of our ancestors, often requiring yards and yards of material, would be too expensive to produce today. They would also be unsuited to modern living—imagine cycling in a crinoline!
Great wars often influence fashion; during the Second World War the style of women’s clothes became military. Jackets for instance had square and padded shoulders. After the war, this fashion changed to the voluminous, more feminine, new look of Dior, the great French designer. Another big chance happened after the First World War. Women, who had worked for the first time with men in the factories during the war, began to dress with greater freedom and started to wear short skirts. Today, what we wear is largely a matter of personal choice, convenience and what we can afford.
The idea of unisex dressing originated in the 1960s when designers such as Pierre Cardin and Rudi Gernreich created garments, such as stretch jersey tunics or leggings, meant to be worn by both males and females. The impact of unisex expands more broadly to encompass various themes in fashion including androgyny, mass-market retail, and conceptual clothing.
The fashion trends of the 1970s, such as sheepskin jackets, flight jackets, duffel coats, and unstructured clothing influenced men to attend social gatherings without a tuxedo jacket and to accessorize in new ways. Some men’s styles blended the sensuality and expressiveness despite the conservative trend, the growing gay-rights movement and an emphasis on youth allowed for a new freedom to experiment with style, fabrics such as wool crepe, which had previously been associated with women’s attire was used by designers when creating male clothing.
The four major current fashion capitals are acknowledged to be Paris, Milan, New York City, and London, which are all headquarters to the greatest fashion companies and are renowned for their major influence on global fashion. Fashion weeks are held in these cities, where designers exhibit their new clothing collections to audiences. A succession of major designers such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint-Laurent have kept Paris as the center most watched by the rest of the world, although haute couture is now subsidized by the sale of ready-to-wear collections and perfume using the same branding.
Modern Westerners have a wide number of choices available in the selection of their clothes. What a person chooses to wear can reflect his or her personality or interests. When people who have high cultural status start to wear new or different clothes, a fashion trend may start. People who like or respect these people become influenced by their personal style and begin wearing similarly styled clothes.
Fashions may vary considerably within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation, and geography and may also vary over time. If an older person dresses according to the fashion young people use, he or she may look ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people. The terms fashionista and fashion victim refer to someone who slavishly follows current fashions.
One can regard the system of sporting various fashions as a fashion language incorporating various fashion statements using a grammar of fashion. In recent years, Asian fashion has become increasingly significant in local and global markets. Countries such as China, Japan, India, and Pakistan have traditionally had large textile industries, which have often been drawn upon by Western designers, but now Asian clothing styles are also gaining influence based on their own ideas.