- What is Fashion?
Fashion is generally understood as the items of clothing one has adorned. It is seen as an expression of an individual’s taste, and their free will. As time passed, different cultures and societies developed their clothing styles. Indigenous people had their own attires.
- How is Fashion associated with individual freedom?
Being able to dress oneself as one desire is an important feature of a free society. It is so because clothing has often been used as a marker of curbing an individual’s freedom, ranging from ban on certain religious clothing items to imposition of a ‘uniform’ as is seen in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. In the book, a regime exists in which every individual wears the colour decided for them by the State, chosen for them on the basis of their value and function in the State. This regime is not just extremist but also reverts back to various regressive and exploitative systems of the bygone era.
- Fashion and Consumerism
In modern times, we are stuck in an endless loop of consumerism where we have access to things we don’t necessarily require. In the consumerism era, we have a strong emphasis on ‘wants’. Having unlimited access to ‘trendy’ clothing is a big constituent of this system. Not owning clothes that are the latest in fashion, is seen as a mark of someone’s inability to be ‘cool’.
Fashion is also used by the elite as a means to splurge and create a distinction with those less wealthy than them. High-end and luxury fashion brands are built around the idea of having access to clothes that middle-class, and hence ordinary people, do not.
However, in the past, fashion was simply restricted to one or two statement pieces owned by people. It was not an indulgence and definitely not available as an overwhelming influx of hundreds of choices. Mostly, clothing choices were based on principles of practicality. Clothes were chosen if they fulfilled the purpose of covering the body and allowed as much movement as an individual’s occupation required. They were locally sourced and supported local craftsmen.
- The Woes of the Fashion Industry
As opposed to now, when this overbearing quantity of trendy items available to us have adversely affected not just our environment/nature but also encouraged exploitation of factory workers in developing countries. To meet the constant demand of new materials by the fashion industry, the raw materials are also compromised on. Mostly synthetic fibres are used. People are brainwashed into discarding one piece of clothing in favour of the next trendy item on the list. All these activities have resulted in endangering the health of the planet tremendously.
Fashion industry is one of the major contributors of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste.