Fashion is not – and never has been – about the clothes. It's about the people.
In early civilizations, the key purpose of clothing was to keep us warm and dry. Before the 1800s, most people depended on raising sheep to get wool to spin, weave and sew fabric for clothing. The Industrial Revolution saw manufacturing pick up speed.
In 1846 the sewing machine was invented.The accessibility to sew from home created a more inexpensive way to manufacture clothing, contributing to a rapid decline in commercial pricing. By appealing to middle-class homemakers, the sewing machine came to symbolise women's work in the modern era. A change occurred during WWII where fabric restrictions and the need for more functional designs led to an increase in standardised production for all clothing. After being familiarised with the convenience, middle-class consumers became more open-minded to purchasing mass-produced clothing after the war. In the 1960s, young people embraced cheaply made clothing to follow new trends and reject the traditions of older generations.
As a result of technical advancements over centuries, fashion choices have become significant. Clothes have developed from a practical asset to a form of social categorisation and definition. This might give the impression fashion is solely an external display for the beholders. However, the way we style ourselves can be used as a tool of self-expression. We style ourselves to adhere to our personal beliefs and values, affected by history, culture, emotions and politics. No matter what our personal circumstances or social status, we all want to have the freedom to express ourselves.
But did you know Australians are the worlds second largest consumers of textiles? We buy around 27 kilograms of new clothing and other textiles each year. Annual production forecasts found we consumed twice the global average of just 13kg. The way we source, use and discard our clothing has transformed drastically. So before you purchase that trendy new jacket, check the label and think about your local community.
FASHION: Griffith's Tara-Rose Myers tells us her definition and affiliation with fashion.
Keep an eye out for her regular contributions at The Area News.