Monday, 6 February 2012

"Fashion, Society and Culture"

'Fashion theorists believe that fashion is a reflection of social, economic, political and cultural changes, but also that fashion expresses modernity and symbolises the spirit of the time' Bulmer, 1989

The movement of the fashion industry reflects and expresses the changes in our society. The history of the hemline in the skirt documents perfectly the specific changes in our society, for example, in times of recession and economic slump, the hemline would drop to a very modest length. However, when economy rises and the mood in society lifts, as does the hemline.

I find this relationship between such changes in society and fashion very interesting. It seems that fashion works in a continuous cycle with our society and cultural changes, where designers use the mood of society at one time to create clothing and collections that 'fit' with this. With designers being inspired by the feeling of the time we see social acceptability of different styles and fashions.

The trends and distinctive styles that we have seen appear in our society have been inspired by designers' reactions, as well as our own personal influences, of historical changes in society. The 1970's saw the subculture of punk emerge into our society. The idea of punk came from the intentional rebellion of the mainstream social trends of that time, where the glittering disco styles were fashionable. Punk fashion and music went hand in hand when it came to trending into becoming what was seen as 'fashionable', with bands such as 'The Exploited' and 'The Ramones'. Designers Vivenne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren were hugely influential.

The subculture of punk held strong ideologies about anti-capitalism, individualism, anti-authoritarianism and freedom for speech and expression, with this being a direct attack on the normality of mainstream society and culture. However, the punk culture has been highly criticised for many reasons. In my opinion, the idea of being rebellious and individual becomes irrelevant when the trend and cultural difference becomes fashionable. When punk became fashionable, the basic ideologies of the subculture became totally absent, in following the punk trend you are not rebelling against the 'system of society' but conforming to that new fashion and being the stereotypical punk. Here is a great video clip, expressing this idea, from the 1999 american film ‘SLC Punk!’

Throughout society, fashion will always be interested, influenced and inspired by cultural changes and differences. This influence from designers and fashion ultimately changes how we express ourselves through our own personal style.

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