Fashion is a form of self-expression, an extension of personality and a way to communicate. It is a powerful and influential medium that can influence social and cultural changes. Fashion can be subdivided into many categories such as dress, footwear, accessories and hairstyles.
The concept of fashion has evolved significantly since the late Middle Ages. During the 20th century, the clothing industry became increasingly globalized and consolidated with mass production, standardized sizes and retail outlets like department stores. This enabled more people to afford to buy and wear designer clothes. However, it also allowed larger companies to steal the ideas and designs of smaller or independent designers, and thus compete unfairly in the market place. In this regard, the concept of intellectual property rights has become a major issue in the fashion industry.
For a look to be considered fashionable, it must be widely worn and popularised. This can happen through popular culture, music and media, such as magazines, newspapers, television and films, and the internet. Often, trends are established and spread by individuals who have high status in a particular community. These are known as trendsetters and can be anyone from a singer, actress, model, sports star or other famous person.
When a fashion trend becomes widespread, it is considered to have reached the “peak of popularity”. After this point, the trend begins to slow down and eventually reach the end of its life cycle. When this happens, it may recur at a later date with a new twist or modification.