What is the role of fashion in our society? How did fashion develop, and how is it relevant today? Fashion has a powerful hold on our society, both personally and professionally. It fulfills people’s desire for novelty and conformity, and it turns these desires into social practices. In short, fashion makes novelty a right of the group. This appeal to our nature and sense of security is a major reason why we engage in a fashion-driven lifestyle.
Women’s role in society has long shaped fashion trends. For generations, gender has determined a person’s place within society, and this role was dictated by what type of clothing a person wore. Women didn’t typically wear pants until the 1920s, when women were a growing presence in the workplace. Today, women are just as likely as men to wear pants. In fact, they’ve even adopted the pantsuit, which was traditionally associated with men.
While the role of fashion in our society has changed drastically in recent decades, it has remained relevant and continues to do so. Fashion, as a medium for social expression, has the ability to spread ideas – coherently, and with a ‘cool’ factor. For example, Professor Helen Storey MBE led a project called ‘Catalytic Clothing’ that examined how textiles could purify the air we breathe. Herself, a catalytic dress designed by Tony Ryan, is an example of such a project. It works by breaking down airborne pollution by releasing a photocatalyst into the atmosphere.
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