Fashion is a way of expressing individuality through dress. It has been used throughout history as a tool to show cultural status and to distinguish between classes within a society. Changes in clothing styles can be attributed to subtle and often hidden network or forces that operate on a culture. One theory is known as the trickle-down or upper-class model wherein individuals of higher socioeconomic status set the trends that lower classes follow.
Clothes also serve a number of other functions such as gratifying vanity, signaling status and belonging to a group. In some cultures, people wear special garments to distinguish themselves from others such as judges in their robes or high-ranking Hawaiians wearing carved whale teeth. Dress can be seen as a mirror and reflect our inner state, mood or emotions. A miniskirt can symbolize liberation and emancipation as a part of the rise of feminism while cassocks or nuns’ robes may symbolise a renunciation of vanity.
The fashion industry is a huge business that involves millions of workers worldwide who design, sew, glue, dye and transport clothing to store shelves. People are constantly influenced by what they see and read about clothing whether in magazines, on television or on the street. This influence can be either consciously or subconsciously and it is a great source of inspiration for designers who draw their ideas from the latest trends. The concepts, styles and ideas that are in vogue today are called fashion and those that quickly go out of style are known as fads or crazes.