Saturday, 08 February 2020

How Fashion Transcended the Culture Divide

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AndrewBrght Photography

For the last few decades, the global fashion industry has been an important driver of development worldwide.

The fashion industry is among the world’s largest consumer industries and generated more than $620 billion in revenues in 2019, according to figures reported by Statista. This remarkable industry is expected to generate over $718 billion in 2020 and grow at a compounded annual rate of 8.4% to reach a whopping $991.65 billion by 2024.

Along the value chain, the fashion industry employs around 60 million people globally, says a report by the Boston Consulting Group. The report goes on to mentioning that the industry has the latest technologies, necessary talent, enough funding, and the necessary resources to change with the times.

1. The Great Cultural Divide in Fashion

Culture is a vast term, encompassing a plethora of elements including language, eating habits, social norms and festivals. It also plays a key role in the kind of clothing and accessories people choose to wear. For instance, women in the Middle East may wear clothes that cover every part of their bodies, while in Hawaii it is normal for women to wear tank tops that don’t cover the midriff, says an article published by the lifestyle magazine CULTURS.

2. Fashion Goes Beyond Cultural Divide

Despite the significance of culture, there is a universality of fashion that goes beyond cultural demarcations. There are several reasons for this so-called globalization of fashion.

Fashion adopts elements from culture that have universal appeal: There are designs that focus on aspects of fashion that unify people as well as showcase an artistic sensibility that considers elements that are seen across cultures, say experts at White + Warren. They mention tie-dye techniques and tunic shapes as examples.

Another example is plaid, introduced by Scotland to the world. Plaid’s popularity around the world is understandable. But no one could have imagined it becoming part of the punk culture and being paired with leather and spikes, says an article by National Geographic. The article goes on to mentioning other cultural trends that the fashion industry has adopted with open arms, such as the beadwork and headgear typical to Africa.

What fashion means to people: The concept of fashion has evolved over decades. More recently, fashion is considered as a medium of self-expression, according to a report published by ResearchGate. The report goes on to mentioning that this has become even more pronounced among Gen Z, or people born in the late 1990s.

Gen Z exhibits similar traits, beliefs and values across the globe, irrespective of the regions or cultures they belong to. And, they adopt fashion trends and clothing styles according to these value and traits.  

Exposure to fashion trends: With the growing popularity of social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, people in every corner of the planet have exposure to the latest styles. This increasing exposure has created demand and many leading brands are targeting developed and emerging economies alike for launching the same clothing line.

Practicality of clothing: Everyday clothing styles needs to consider practicality. Many traditional attires are now considered too cumbersome or time-consuming to be worn on a regular basis and are limited to being adorned only during special celebrations and festivals.

Economies of Scale: Many have turned to outfits like jeans and a shirt or a t-shirt for daily wear. This is because such clothes are mass produced, which makes them cheaper than traditional attires. Moreover, with technological advancements, the cost and time involved in logistics has declined significantly. This has improved the global accessibility of the same styles in clothing.

Fashion is woven intricately into the fabric of our lives. As the world comes together to promote universal values, fashion will continue to transcend the cultural divide.