FASHION TRENDS AND ITS IMPACT ON SOCIETY
Dr. D. Saravanan,
The Principal, Bannariamman Institute of Technology, Sathyamangalam – 638401
Mr. Nithyaprakash.V, Assistant Professor, Department of Fashion Technology, Bannariamman
Institute of Technology, Sathyamangalam – 638401.
Mob: 9952497366, Email: email@example.com
Fashion trends come and go; meanwhile a society’s values are established and evolving
characteristic to their beliefs and culture. Fashion is just not an ambitious projected image of a
reinterpreted good old value to fulfill some function or agenda alike but rather a evocative and
refreshing concept worthy enough to be portrayed for society’s appreciation that makes us even
more instinctive. In the society, the individual’s appearance is the ticket to transmit non verbal
communication signals such as possible cues about his / her social stature, values and lifestyle.
Fashion communication has under gone a 360 degree shift in its communicable aspects staring
from projecting a basic image of how we look like and how we feel like to expressing our
emotional experiences through interactive implements in the dress.
The success of the fashion trend lies in the way the society interprets the fashion trend and
judges it. Hence the impact is measured by the barometer of social acceptance which in turn is
driven by the several motivational forces that underline the people’s values and behavioral traits.
Today’s consumer culture is driven by aspirationalism that diminishes the gap between the rich
and economically volatile sections when it comes to accepting and adopting a trend. A classical
example is, a consumer in China saves her three months salary to purchase a LVMH hand bag.
Further It does not stop here as the people’s cash liquidity is extended by the easy provision of
personal loans facilitated by both private and nationalized banks alike. This is even extended by
few Brands’ initiatives to offer fashion products on a credit basis with easy monthly part
2. Contemporary consumption behavior
Today’s youth ( 15 to 20 years) given their predictable audacity, the tendency to shop, venture
out, try, experiment is high, it is they who decide the life time of a fashion trend. In a globalized
world well connected by web technologies, geographical distance is no more a constraint to
reach and witness the experience. The lines between buying behaviors are no more significant
among young people ( youth) indeed blurring out as the common urge is get hooked on to social
networks, interact across a wide section of people of with shared interests and get appreciated.
In fact even companies hiring potential job seekers are verifying their social networks and
In this context, the very idea of consumerist model of Top to down approach is hardly relevant.
(Douglas & Isherwood, 1996; McCracken, 1990) theories of consumption describe a more
complex picture in which fashion does more than signal social position. Rather populist models
and trickle across theories help to explain the phenomenon better. A classical example is the
prevalence of their attitude and lifestyle to decide about product purchase rather than merely
following the cultural stars and people in lime light or the rich and wealthy people. Today’s
world is driven by knowledge and experience providing chance for every individual to
experience and appreciates a moment which is no way decided by their monetary status. And the
converse is also true that the rich are not the only ones superior in appreciating a taste or value.
And knowledge being a common platform where rich and economically vulnerable alike
compete on equal terms. In fact the new line is between knowledge ignorant people and people
with well equipped knowledge.
(Holt 1997a) defines lifestyle as collective pattern of consumption patterns based on shared
cultural frameworks that exist in social system. A recent analysis on the consumer consumption
behavior by Chaudhuri and Majumdar (2006) only bears more evidence to this phenomenon.
Table 1: A Structural Analysis of Conspicuous Consumption
Behavior (Source: Chaudhuri and Majumdar, 2006)
Social power and
Post – modern
and self image
Middle class and
3. Face of Everyday fashion
The phenomenon of fashion can be distinguished into elite fashion ( haute couture) and everyday
fashion rather than just restricting ourselves to the concept of European or western high fashion.
(Malcom barnard 1996, 2008) Everyday Fashion is an interactive process through which the
aspiring individuals of the society consciously project their bodily self in a distinctive manner in
the form of clothing style. it is unlike the traditional capitalist fashion system where the so called
elite or rich decide the course of fashion tastes and fashion gets disseminated from the top to
bottom sections of the society. This distinctive manner of style is equally drawn from the fashion
trends percolated through contemporary life, style conventions, fashion code concepts developed
by the designers & forecasting service providers alike and street style fashion, Appreciation of
aesthetic experiences, ethnographic accounts witnessed in the social vicinity of a local
population. (Malcolm barnard 1996, 2008) Relating to the beliefs and attitudes of the peers or
social group these individuals belong to the Endeavour to draw a fine line between the existing
patterns of style and their appearance by dressing in a trendy manner. In other words the
intention is to win friends or draw appreciations by communicating their values in the form of
dress and clothing as appearance is a social etiquette and effective form of nonverbal
Mean while the contemporary everyday fashion echo a different pattern contrary to the
traditional fashion cycle periods of Classic fashion and FAD. Rather we can say there is a change
in the compositions of the elements that constitute these fashion concepts. The pattern at which
the FAD accessories like sashes, armlets / wristbands, jewellery, hair bands and watches along
with fashionable trims like buttons and pins are co-ordinate with classical dress shirts and
trousers to complement a look rapidly changes every month. Party wear and club wear clothing
trends needs no mention about this behavior. Thus other than the bare essentials of classical look
namely the dress shirt and trouser / skirt, the accessories and trims which co-ordinate the look
continue to evolve at a faster pace similar to FAD.
(Kawamura 2005) This is witnessed in groups including subcultures, ethnic groups, alternative
lifestyles, workplace and leisure cultures, and in all the mundane places and institutions of
3.1 The lure of aesthetic experience
(I-perception 2012) As quoted in the three dimensions of aesthetic experience: fascination with
the aesthetic object ( arousal and attention), appraisal of symbolic reality (cognitive engagement)
and strong feeling of unity with the object: fascination and appraisal, The lure of aesthetic
experience for a contemporary consumer is highly inspirational and entails specific calculations
on his / her part in accepting the everyday fashion trends. Clothing behavior is determined by
pragmatic criteria and situations because we do have social codes of dressing. When it comes to
casual wear the preference could be for a mixture of values attributed to social themes and
adventurous sports / events, in case of formal wear the preference or the more rightly the choice
is to stick to the conventional dressing codes, in case of sportswear the preference is for a
functional comfort and feel good factor and in case of party wear the preference is for displaying
the oomph factor and prevailing iconic values. Thus consumers are clearly strongly influenced
by their social context, they also have a creative agency in participating in fashion:
“Consumption establishes itself as a gratuitous and creative activity inasmuch as people
reinterpret and reorganize things they have bought according to a particular style which they are
continuously engaged in accomplishing” (Sassatelli, 2007).
4. Social agenda of fashion trends
In fact clothing and fashion are carriers of wide range of ideological meanings. The fashion
trends portray a visual culture and style of dressing that models the consumer identity in a
specific environment. The social agenda of these fashion trends is to express the consumer’s
identity in terms of lifestyle choices and their attitude. The lifestyle choices changes from one
period to another period. In other words they suggest the pattern & manner of dressing befitting
an occasion that sets forth a standard. these clothing standards are in fact derived from the
prevailing social values and their emotional expectations.
The Fashion trend entails design focus and details on a garment noticed at different locations of
the garment namely collars and necklines, hem lines, waist lines, shoulder line, sleeve lines and
hip lines. A sneak peek review of Google fashion trends report. (Www. Thinkwithgoogle.com/
spring-2015-fashion-trends-google) tell us about the status of the trends floated by the fashion
There is a steady rise in the consumption of styles like waist trainer, jogger pants, palazzo pants,
tulle skirt and midi skirt. While styles like white lace dress, high waisted bikini, romper, shift
dress and white jumpsuit have recorded seasonal growth. Not only had they added on a new
element of Elegance and natural well being to the contemporary human existence but have
demystified few common fabric notions in the society like knitted stretch denim is suitable only
for lounges and tulle is appropriate only for elegant party wear or Haute couture. Be it the
kinematic comfort of jogger pants that meets the requirements of frail customer who would like
to do away from the heavy trousers that bruises the skin or the very low weight and airy
silhouette of tulle skirt or the easy to don and doff jumpsuit have all added on a renewing feature
and pepped up the existing look. The agenda of each fashion trend is to enhance the look and feel
of the customer.
From the user search behavior patterns, it is clearly evident that many fashion trends have
bulldozed the issue of class entirely, and instead follow patterns of “personal identity” dictated
by psychographic parameters based on age, race, gender, sexuality, leisure activities, and various
sub-cultural allegiances. This is a classic example of how contemporary fashion cycles operate
differently from purely top-down models (Crane 2000).
And trends themselves are in fact rolled out by the forecasting services following thorough
ethnographic studies. As the living conditions, the environment and the cognitive engagement in
the life of a person changes simultaneously the attitudinal expressions also change. And in an era
where the construction of personal identity assumes absolute importance for an individual, the
fashion designers and forecasters alike float their agendas to cater to these special emotional
needs driven by lifestyle and values.
Clothes are never a frivolity; they are always an expression of the fundamental social and
economic pressures of the time (laver 1968). WGSN Executive Vice President Leticia Abraham
also share the same view that fashion is one of the most evident and prolific places for individual
and social expression and is a means of communication but not a revolution in itself
example is the rise of street style which proves fashion is an essential mode of self expression.
5. The attitude of youth towards fashion trends
Attitudes serving a value-expressive function (i.e., value-expressive attitudes) help people
communicate their central beliefs, attitudes, and values to others through their possessions (Katz
1960). And fashionable garments and accessories are such possessions that help people
communicate who and what they are. In this context, do all people have a penchant to adore
fashion trends are to be looked into in close proximity? The answer is definitely no except one
exceptional section of the population: the youngsters. The youngsters comprising of adolescents
(12 to 17years), teens and young allocate more time for their public appearance than to studies.
The peer influence, hero worship which becomes part of adolescent identity creation is the
primary reason why adolescents aspire for more fashion concerns than any other age group.
Colleges generally project the picture of current trend in fashion. Therefore it is normal for a
college student who is in the identity creation stage of Erikson’s psychosocial development to
look for trendy dress choices (1968).
When a particular style of dress comes in vogue or used by film stars and models, it is blindly
followed by college students (Pathak, 2013). Fashion trend today does not give precedence to
comforts and practicality. Sometimes the dress, that goes beyond modesty and simplicity, which
does not allow someone to sit or walk properly, is attracted by youth. Untidy, shabby looking
hair-styles, which are trendy, attract Generation X youngsters. Rather it reflects the
deconstructive style preferences prevailing in post modern consumerist society.
5.1 GENERATION Z
Generation X style characteristics can be inferred from a few signature style looks: metro sexual
or grunge characterized by Untidy, shabby looking hair-styles, which are trendy. By far for many
youngsters the prevailing style is jeans, cool sneakers and messy hair for men and jeans, cool
sneakers and neat hair for women. But Generation Z youngsters who in fact wish to express their
own style in an anonymous manner as per the view shared by the Director of youth insights of
Futures co (Www.nytimes.com/2015/19/20/fashion). Generation Z is also nicknamed Digital
natives, just because they can simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on
instagram and talk on phone.
We do see a few elements like rave look, pop art style skirts printed with giant coco cola logo,
tie-dyed maxi dresses and rainbow chokers barring resemblance to Generation X. (Www.
Teenvogue.com/gallery/spring-summer-2015-beauty-trend-report) While 2015 spring beauty
trend report of Teen Vogue speak about vintage patty smith style shag haircuts and ripped
fishnets era scarlet lipstick as trends, the youth style bloggers are catching upon anonymous
styles pertaining to smaller sub groups and sub cultures, for example: self defined laundry-day
look that comprises of oversize sweaters, base ball caps and jogging pants
(Www.nytimes.com/2015/19/20/fashion). Thus there is no one single acclaimed and sought after
signature look mimicking pop stars and cultural stars. This is no strange behavior in the current
scenario given the incidences of “Selfies” as they are quick and efficient way to increase one’s
social media presence.
6. Communication and cognitive engagement
Fashion communication, unlike verbal communication, messages transmitted through fashion
symbols are often emotional impressions or, what Hoffmann (1984) called "illusions". In other
words they reflect the clothing attitude of the person. The perceiver examines a fashion statement
"not for a new message, but for an old one fixed by convention" Fashion symbols and their
effectiveness in communicating culturally defined Categories. Principles and processes emerged
through human interaction not only speaks about their existence but also their consciousness.
The human consciousness in appreciating a cut and shape of silhouette is as legitimate as any
other appreciation of Art. In fashion the evocation of a Trend pertaining to a historical period has
to be immediate yet not necessarily correct in its aspects; visual impact and easy reading of the
design take preference over historical accuracy in material or shape. Today, Is silk an
representation of purity, royalty and does wearing a denim trouser with distressed effects speak
about the emotional traits of the person who he is, can only be explained by the symbols that
establishes the visual core concepts in fashion.
Today the manufacturing of fashion clothing has been affected by technological advances.
(Alicia kennedy & Emily banes Stoehrer with Jay calderin 2013), The abilities of the high-tech
fabrics to stretch to over-whelming sizes or change their structure according to temperatures
inspire clothing designers and blur the lines between fashion and industrial design. The Italian
firm Corpo Nove has designed a shirt woven with titanium that reacts to shifts in temperature.
Wrinkles in the fabric are released when the shirt is exposed to hot air. The changing face of
communications is also influencing trends & styles of the future.
(Trending, Sunday magazine, The Hindu, September 20, 2015) The Selfie is the buzz word
today, as it communicates a message or two about the person across their friends, colleagues and
foes alike instantaneously through digital platforms. According to oxford dictionary a selfie is a
photograph that one has taken of oneself, usually with a smart phone. And why not is elected as
the “International word of the year 2013”. The mode of selfies has come a long way from days of
Vincent van gough who first painted a self portrait to the days of Triple self portrait painted by
Norman Rockwell which features a mirror selfie. The interesting thing to note is people wish to
go by their own style that is evident from the plethora of selfies posted across the web. A poll by
American Academy of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery indicated that one in three cases
requested for surgical procedures to improve their look.
Attitude is an expression of the feelings and values are their motivating forces or directional
forces that help the consumer to make a decision. In case of a value-expressive attitude toward a
product, the consumers are motivated to consume it as a form of self-expression (Snyder and
DeBono 1985). This growing trend of self awareness for one’s look has influenced every aspect
of Generation Z individual behavior and is reflected in every sphere starting from social media
platforms to real life purchase decisions. This phenomenon of emboldened self expression and
preference for no holds barred anonymous style has challenged the core social agenda of
forecasting agencies. Thus it has pushed the forecasting agencies to reconsider the parameters of
forecasting ushering in a new environment for modeling. The most befuddling is the
unpredictable nature of selfie composition patterns leaving behind only the function of
expression that is to increase one’s social media presence and carve a niche for himself or
herself. So the trend of the day is self expressive anonymous style that tends to remove social
prejudices about fashion in the society. The lenience is towards flaunting what is theirs in spite
of mimicking others rather going all the way to savor and appreciate what they and their close
knit friends in the group engage and unravel upon. Further today’s anonymous style trends opens
up the societal expressions unheard and unseen ever before just evocative of the spirit of our
moments that does not bother whether the content is worth artistic and meaningful which could
give a hint or two about the individuals real existence and real needs.
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1. Table 1: A Structural Analysis of Conspicuous Consumption Behavior (Source:
Chaudhuri and Majumdar, 2006)