What is fashion?

If someone asked you to describe fashion, what would you say? Do you think of Vogue, catwalk shows and umpteen super-cool fashion bloggers? Do you love the latest Prada menswear collection, faithfully follow trends, or utterly detest being told what to wear? When talking about clothing, many people assume that the umbrella term fashion refers only to something that is or was ‘fashionable’. Something that adheres to a popular mainstream trend as dictated by catwalk shows, magazine editors and store buyers. However, you can still be interested in fashion even if you can’t stand the thought of wearing something like pastel 20s-inspired pyjamas this season, or if you fail to see the joy in anything on display at New York Fashion Week. An interest in fashion can be as broad as the subject itself.

If you look past what magazines and newspapers report on – into the world of books, and fashion as a subject of study – fashion begins to speak about changes in society, subcultures, mainstream definitions of gender, and even an individual’s sense of identity. Fashion is an industry of designers, crafts people, manufacturers, retailers, photographers, make-up artists, hairdressers, stylists, PR folk and journalists. We all wear clothing and, whether we like it or not, what we choose to adorn our bodies with says a lot about us to other people. It always has. Fashion is a subject that goes deeper than who wore what on the red carpet at last night’s BAFTAs… well, unless you look at Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge. Now there’s an aspect of this industry that speak volumes about 21st Century western society. Let’s hope this becomes the Formula 1 of fashion, driving forward exciting innovation that will later be adopted by the mainstream. I await the chance to buy my own recycled soda bottle fabrics with great interest.