Fashion is a term that encompasses styles, trends and modes of adornment. It is also seen as a form of expression and personal style. Fashion is inherently a social phenomenon; in order for something to be considered fashionable, it must have dissemination and followers. This can occur either top-down (“trickle-down”), bottom-up (trickle-across) or transversally across cultures and through viral memes and media.
From the earliest times, fashion has been used to signal one’s status in society or social group. For example, only Roman senators were allowed to wear purple; in modern Japan, the emperor’s family is the only one permitted to wear yellow; and Hawaiian high-ranking officials used to wear garments adorned with carved whale teeth. Clothes have also been used to create distance between groups, such as the uniforms worn by soldiers in World War I or the various looks that are associated with subcultures (goths, skaters, preppers etc.).
In addition to demonstrating status, fashion can also be used to signify a preference for particular artists or genres of music. This is evident today, as many clothing designers take political stances through their collections. Fashion can also be influenced by other social media outlets, such as blogs, YouTube videos and TikTok. For example, when popular musicians wear a certain style of clothes, their fans will often imitate them. In this way, the line between fashion and anti-fashion becomes blurred. This can be seen in the way that elements of tribal dress, for example, become swept up by trends and even appear on catwalks.