Fashion is a cultural phenomenon that influences not only clothing but also hairstyle, footwear and accessories. It may be seen as a form of self-expression, a way of demonstrating one’s social status or a desire to fit in with the current popular culture. Fashions may be influenced by changing social and economic circumstances as well as by individual interests and tastes. In this way, a fashion can be said to reflect the time in which it was created.
Although there are some constants, such as the cyclical nature of the seasons, fashions vary by region and by social class. In modern Western societies, many people follow the fashions of the rich and famous, which can help to spread a particular look through magazines, television and other media. In addition, some people, particularly young people, enjoy following changes in fashion because it provides a sense of adventure and allows them to express their creative personalities.
It is generally assumed that fashions change because they reflect societal changes, although this view has been questioned by researchers such as Stanley Lieberman who has shown that fashions in children’s first names are unrelated to commercial interests. The speed at which fashions appear to change has been accelerated by the use of the Internet, which allows new looks to be marketed in days rather than months. This has increased the demand for fast-fashion retail, where goods are made to be sold quickly as they are worn out.