How Does Fashion Shape Social Identities

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How does fashion shape social identities?

In my essay I am going to investigate the meaning and the relationship between these two words: fashion and identity, particularly in relation to social status. Fashion and identity both represent a complex notion, especially when we talk about their association. Nowadays, if we pronounce the word ‘fashion’, which has become one of the most common words in our society, we immediately think of clothes; what people wear in the streets or what the majority of people wear, or what the latest styles of clothes are that are in the stores. Originally, the concept of fashion emerged in Europe in the fourteenth century when the changing of styles of the clothes began to speed up. As Laver confirms: ‘The mid-fourteenth century marks the emergence of recognizable fashion in clothing’ (1979:62). But what is fashion? We could approach this question either in a simple or complex way. If we had to define it briefly, we would say that it is the latest style of clothing. As Rouse outlines: ‘Fashion is more than a commodity, the product of a particular industry, it is an attribute with which some styles are endowed. For a particular style of clothing to become a fashion it actually has to be worn by some people and recognized and acknowledged to be a fashion’ (1989:69). Apparently, the evolution of fashion is strongly connected to the development of society in the history. Several historical factors played decisive role in enabling society to change, such as the growth of the trade during the thirteenth century that resulted the merchant class to be in the ascendant by amassing their wealth. It seemed that there was some kind of possibility for the middle class to rise, and having social ambitions, they not only wanted to compete with the upper class, but to exceed them. They could not have manifested their aim in a most obvious way than in dress. Therefore the concept of fashion itself grew out from the human mind as a tool of...
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