by:  Celia Stall- Meadows

Clothing is like our second skin. It projects our current mood, our personality, and our group associations.  It also covers our body and protects us from the elements. Clothing symbolizes who we are or who we aspire to be. Our clothing may be a one-of-a-kind look or it may be a style at the height of fashion.  Students of fashion learned at an early age that many people care very little about being “in fashion.” Thus, while we all need clothing, we don’t all need fashion.

Fashion is a subsegment of clothing.  It represents popular styles of clothing—styles that are currently being worn by a group of adopters. Usually a fashion doesn’t remain popular for very many months before a new fashion replaces the old one. People become bored with the old looks and desire something new and different—but not too different. The fashion industry responds by producing variations on the popular styles, which fuel consumers’ desires to have the newest styles. The new styles that gain popularity become today’s fashions.

  • Why do you think that consumers prefer new fashions that are only slightly different from last season’s fashions?
  • Is the fashion industry rightly criticized for encouraging consumers to buy new items when they already have serviceable clothing in their wardrobe?

By Celia Stall-Meadows, EdD., author of Why Would Anyone Wear That? Fascinating Fashion Facts. UK: Intellect Books, 2013