Fashion is a popular aesthetic expression at a particular time, place and in a specific context, especially in clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle, and body proportions. Whereas a trend often connotes a peculiar aesthetic expression and often lasting shorter than a season, fashion is a distinctive and industry-supported expression traditionally tied to the fashion season and collections. Style is an expression that lasts over many seasons and is often connected to cultural movements and social markers, symbols, class, and culture (ex. Baroque, Rococo, etc.). According to sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, fashion connotes "the latest fashion, the latest difference.
Additionally, there is a long history of fashion in West Africa. The Cloth was used as a form of currency in trade with the Portuguese and Dutch as early as the 16th Century. Locally produced cloth and cheaper European imports were assembled into new styles to accommodate the growing elite class of West Africans and resident gold and slave traders. There was an exceptionally strong tradition of cloth-weaving in Oyo and the areas inhabited by the Igbo people.
Although tailors and dressmakers were no doubt responsible for many innovations, and the textile industry indeed led many trends, the history of fashion design is generally understood to date from 1858 when the English-born Charles Frederick Worth opened the first authentic haute couture house in Paris. The Haute house was the name established by the government for the fashion houses that met the standards of the industry. These fashion houses have to adhere to standards such as keeping at least twenty employees engaged in making the clothes, showing two collections per year at fashion shows, and presenting a certain number of patterns to costumers. Since then, the idea of the fashion designer as a celebrity in his or her own right has become increasingly dominant.
Politics has played a central role in the development of fashion. For example, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashionable icon of the early 1960s who led the formal dressing trend. By wearing a Chanel suit, a structural Givenchy shift dress, or a soft color Cassini coat with large buttons, it created her elegant look and led a delicate trend.
The fashion industry is seeing how 3D printing technology has influenced designers such as Iris Van Herpen and Kimberly Ovitz. These designers have been heavily experimenting and developing 3D printed couture pieces. As the technology grows, the 3D printers will become more accessible to designers and eventually, consumers, which could potentially shape the fashion industry entirely.
China is an interesting market for fashion retail as Chinese consumers' motivation to shop for fashion items are unique from Western Audiences. Demographics have limited association with shopping motivation, with occupation, income and education level having no impact; unlike in Western Countries. Chinese high-street shoppers prefer adventure and social shopping, while online shoppers are motivated by idea shopping. Another difference is how gratification and idea shopping influence spending over 1k per month on fashion items, and regular spending influenced by value shopping.
Consumption is driven not only by need, the symbolic meaning for consumers is also a factor. Consumers engaging in symbolic consumption may develop a sense of self over an extended period of time as various objects are collected as part of the process of establishing their identity and, when the symbolic meaning is shared in a social group, to communicate their identity to others. For teenagers consumption plays a role in distinguishing the child self from the adult. Researchers have found that the fashion choices of teenagers are used for self-expression and also to recognize other teens who wear similar clothes. The symbolic association of clothing items can link individuals personality and interests, with music as a prominent factor influencing fashion decisions.
Today, people in rich countries are linked to people in poor countries through the commoditization and consumption of what is called fashion. People work long hours in one area of the globe to produce things that people in another part of the globe are anxious to consume. An example of this is the chain of production and consumption of Nike shoes, which are produced in Taiwan and then purchased in North America. At the production end, there is nation-building a hard working ideology that leads people to produce and entices people to consume with a vast amount of goods for the offering. Commodities are no longer just utilitarian but are fashionable, be they running shoes or sweat suits.