Fashion as a word has derived from the Latin word ‘facere’ that means “to make.” This exclusive word has today transgressed the boundaries of space, geographical barriers, languages and cultures. It is said, ‘Whatever is favored at a given time by those who are regarded as up-to-date is fashion’. But there is no denying the fact that it is a language universally experienced not just by the youth but acknowledged across all age brackets. If the stone-age man dressed up in tree barks and leaves, the trend changed and the crude garments of pre-history paved way to structured styles of the ancient times. The solemn styles of the Middle ages now transformed into exotic and fanciful fashion trends.
The rapid changes due to globalization, advanced technology, market studies and communication are affecting the way our society perceives fashion and uses it. It has been established that design belongs to a transient moment in history dwelling upon a continuous socio-cultural and economic environment, which is most probably suspended between tradition and modernity. It affects and is affected by the inherent strengths or art and technology, craftsmanship, industrialization, publicity, market studies and influences of the fashion industry and fashion market. Fashion, which used to be associated with clothes, has now spread to every conceivable form of fabric, colour, texture and medium. Now it is also being applied to architecture, furniture, toys, interior and exterior designs, auto-designs and anything which could appeal the human senses.
The magnificent panorama of fashion dwells over three periods, the first phase, in which it was impersonal and generic, the second where it went on to become personal and national and the third when it became impersonal and international, wherein each phase reveal contradictory elements and complex trends. Mind blowing changes have taken place in the fashion scene over the past two decades. India with its unbroken cultural lineage dating back to the medieval times was always confronted with changing fashion trends. The clothes, jewels, accessories and other paraphernalia constantly underwent changes and modifications.
If big hair, stretchy stirrup pants fashioned on MC Hammer pants or Z Cavarici jeans were a rage in the 80’s, fashion brands penetrated the protected middle income households. Denims, cottons and natural colors started getting competition from acrylic and hyper-colors. 80’s also brought to the fore two varied styles. While on one hand women started taking more responsibilities in business, their dress codes and business suits witnessed broader shoulders, shoulder pads resembling the styles of the 30’s with brighter colors viz. yellows, pinks and blues. On the other hand body shaping and fitness regime brought to the fore a big market for exercise garments. Lycra and spandex spurted to becoming essential materials as colors preferred changed to the pinks and greens. 80’s was also a period when the yuppie culture set in and personalities started getting identified with the style of the suit they wore, the car they drove and the accessories they flaunted. For the fashion maker too the decade was significant. A good fashion marketer is supposed to be one who studies the fashion market trends, customer needs, moods and the overall market analysis prior to making his market presence. The 80’s brought new challenges and choices before the fashion marketer for whom the markets and choices expanded as tastes and price barriers adjusted to the needs of the market.
The 90’s transformed into the decade of the ‘brands’. It is believed that this was also a decade when the society rejected the excesses of the 80’s and design became more sober and minimalist. With feminine gender gaining more control over the lives professionally and soaring disposable incomes, fashion started reflecting a new energy and ambiance. This was also a period when fashion communication too gained credence opening up new vistas for a burgeoning fashion market. With a multitude of domestic and international brands, companies and designers, this was a period when a thrust was given to developing unique identities and maximizing visibility. Significant concerns were also raised towards social and human values, proactively anticipating and responding to emerging business opportunities, strategic changes, innovation and marketing strategy for merchandising.
Like designs are made in minds of the designers, long before pencil touches paper, the long term success and failure of trends and markets primarily leads back to the visualization and planning stages. Successful fashion marketing involves knowing the current trends under specific influences. Though replicating is a safe near-term strategy, it entails a high potential for long term error. Successful fashion marketing employs the skills of communication and related tools to enable collection, vetting and programming to arrive at defining spaces and providing adequate flexibility and simultaneously incorporating latitude for technological and cultural evolution.
Current fashion trends are the resultant of untiring and continuous efforts on the part of all associated with the fashion industry to arrive at results, which are so evident across the globe. But generally fashion has a spelt purpose primarily to accommodate human character through a milieu of traditions, sensibilities, desires and dreams of people and the society. Further, it adapts to the needs of a modern society’s impersonal utilitarianism and changes in technology. Fashion reflects not just the needs of a human civilization but the dreams and aspirations of a humanity seeking out change and reformation.