Fashion is a system of signs that communicates a wide range of personal, social, and cultural meanings. Different elements of clothing, such as style, color, pattern, material, accessories, and brand can symbolize social status, cultural norms and values, historical and political context, mood and emotion, group membership, life stage, seasonal changes, fantasy and imagination, and ethical and sustainable values.
Throughout history, different countries have developed their own unique styles of clothing. Some, like China and Japan, have had highly influential national and regional designers that have influenced international fashion. In the modern era, some designers have taken political stances and used their influence as fashion entrepreneurs to raise awareness for certain issues. Some examples include Ralph Lauren’s support of the anti-Trump movement and Calvin Klein’s protest of gun violence and sexual harassment in a viral video.
While some clothes are designed specifically for a specific individual, a higher level of craftsmanship known as haute couture, most fashion is designed and produced to be mass-produced and worn by a large number of people. The process of designing, production, and marketing of these clothes takes place in a globalized environment with some garments being designed in one country, manufactured in another, and sold in a retail outlet in the same country.
Fashion is ephemeral; trends come and go, and what was once considered “fashionable” may suddenly seem out of date. As a result, fashion writers need to be able to keep up with current and emerging trends and have access to a variety of sources that they can use as references for their articles.