There can be great confusion caused by the variety of terms used by magazines, newspapers, blogs and websites, when discussing fashion. The all-encompassing word, ‘fashion’ is used interchangeably with expressions such as ‘style’, ‘trend’ and ‘design’. To fully understand fashion trends, we must clearly define these terms.
A trend is a general direction or movement in which something is developing or changing.
You may have read that there is a trend towards soft pastel colours this season. This means designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs, have presented clothing in soft, pastel colours on the runway, and retailers, e.g. fast fashion giants, Topshop and Zara, are displaying clothing in these tones. Accordingly, fashion forward consumers and appropriately named ‘trendsetters’ like Julia Restoin Roitfeld and Diane Kruger, are wearing pastel attire and accessories.
Legendary designer Azzedine Alaïa has contributed to Third Wave Feminism through his clever style combinations and ability to create new trends. The masculine hound’s-tooth print paired with traditionally feminine full-length gloves, bra and mini-skirt in his 1991 Spring/Summer collection, sent waves through the fashion pack at the time. The objectification of the female body was subversively transformed into an expression of confidence and control – sexuality now defined by strength and power.
A style is a distinctive appearance, design or arrangement.
Styles are everywhere. There are styles of architecture, martial arts, politics, food, painting and literature. Famous fashion icons, like Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Kate Moss have all constructed their own signature styles. Then come specific clothing styles: classic, bohemian, minimal, high fashion, street or eclectic. Even pants have separate categories; cigarette, flared, palazzo, and capri.
A design is a unique combination of components – silhouette, construction, fabric and details – that distinguishes a fashion object from other fashion objects in the same category.
For instance, some of the design components of the ‘classic’ style, typified by a sense of good taste and timelessness, are a boyish blazer, crisp white shirt, and a perfectly cut trench coat.
A fashion is a style of product or behaviour that is temporarily adopted by a large proportion of members of a social group; the term is often associated with clothing.
Victoria Beckham’s short, asymmetrical “Pob” bob was copied by millions of women. Skinny jeans became popular in the mid-2000s, following boot-cut jeans of the early 2000s. An example of fashion in behaviour is the widespread ritualised use of the social networking website, Facebook.
Fashion can be subversive, creative, non-conformist and inexpensive. To interpret the spirit of the world and stay true to yourself, have your point of view, but evolve it.