Fashion is a multibillion-dollar global industry that encompasses the design, production and retailing of clothing. It is distinguished by its use of fabric, colors, accessories and hairstyles to convey a specific message about the wearer or the consumer to others.
A person’s choice of clothing reflects their identity, values, and beliefs. It also serves as a means of communication within groups: teenagers might group together by the style of clothes they wear (goth, skater, prep, herb). Clothing can be used to signal membership in a specific social or cultural group; for example judges wear robes and people in the military wear uniforms. It can also be a form of identification and tradition, as in the case of a wedding dress or traditional Indian clothing.
The concept of fashion is inherently a social phenomenon, as it requires the dissemination and acceptance of a certain style for it to be considered fashionable. This dissemination can occur top-down, from the fashion houses and haute couture that dictate trends, or bottom-up, through subcultures and youth movements, or transversally across cultures through viral memes and media.
Throughout history, people have pored over fashion magazines and newspapers to see what the latest styles are. Celebrities, politicians and royalty have always been admired for their sense of style; music icons such as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna have all had an impact on the way we look. The influence of fashion is so pervasive that it has become a part of our everyday lives.