Factors Influencing Fashion

Clothing is not just for covering and protecting one's body, but people expect much more things from it. It is another way to express wealth, status, gender, culture etc. Everyone has his / her own unique style, something that sets them apart from others. This often changes from generation to generation. From a designer to a celebrity, in one way or the another, everyone has a vital role in influencing popular fashion.

There are few factors involved in the development of styles in each generation. There are a couple of issues which have been identified which has a major influence over the production and consumption of fashion products. The main factors which influence fashion can be divided mainly into five different segments:
  • Social Factors
  • Cultural Factors
  • Political Factors
  • Environmental Factors
  • Psychological Factors

Social Factors Influencing Fashion

Social changes have been very important in influencing fashion. There was a time when women did not have rights to vote, could not own property, even earn except in limited occupations. In the early 19th century, the only choice of clothing for women was how their fathers or husbands wanted them to wear. Later on, as the result of the Women's Right Movement (also known as Women's Liberation Movement), the roles of women changed and hence there was a change in what they wore.
There are different reasons which come under Social Influence. They are
  • Social Awareness
    Digital media, fashion magazines and window displays have increased the awareness and knowledge about the latest color, patterns and fashion elements in people. People feel more confident to try out the latest trends rather than just trying to stay fashionable.
  • New Roles for Women
    After the Women's Right Movement, the roles of women changed from typical household duties to working at offices. Specially tailored office suits, pantsuits or formal skirts and jackets were used to maintain the formal decor instead of the typical saree or plain salwar suits.
  • Comfort
    Comfort was the key factor which everyone was in search for. From kids wear to formal wear, sports wear to night wear and even for accessories the comfort was required. This factor gave more space for designers to experiment on their new creations.
Few of the most common social factors are listed below:
  • Class / Segment: Human beings are always interested to show their social status through their dresses. For example, Kings and Queens expressed their pride by wearing royal clothing.
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity: The upbringing and cultural background of a person also has certain effects on clothing selection.
  • Age
  • Occupation: People choose clothes depending upon their profession. The dressing style of a Teacher, a Doctor, an IT Professional, Soldier, Navy personnel differs from one another.
  • Physiological: Persons choose clothes which suit their body shape.
  • Marital Status: Our dressing style changes with our marital status.
Different Body Shapes
Different Dress Types
Royal Clothing

Cultural Factors Influencing Fashion

Traditional Clothing
Many places like Paris, London, Milan, New York etc has huge influence on fashion. Adaptation of fashion has changed from Trickle Down to Trickle Across. Current fashion direction comes from everywhere such as street wear from youth and other ethnic groups. Since 1960, the sources of fashion influence had multiplied. By late 1960's, interest in the world's cultures was very evident in fashion. Designers now started to focus on ethnic minorities as every culture had something to offer and hence designers started to include more design aspects into their patterns.
Here are few events, where the Culture has influenced fashion very much.
  • Dior's New Look (1947)
    Christian Dior's New Look
    Christian Dior was a French Fashion Designer, who became popular with his first collection called the "New Look". This collection featured rounded shoulders, a cinched waist and a full skirt which denoted ultra femininity and luxury in women's fashion.
  • Chanel Suit (1950)
    Chanel Suit by Coco Chanel
    In the early 1950's, women became free from social conventions & traditional thoughts and then wearing pants became normal. The concept of pants for women was introduced by the French fashion designer, Coco Chanel. By the mid 1950's, Coco Chanel introduced an A-line skirt & Braid-trimmed Cardigan style jacket known as the "Chanel Suit" which was very quickly accepted by all.
  • Hawaiian Influence (1963)
    Hawaiian Influence
    The movie "Blue Hawaii", set in Hawaii in the year 1961, influenced people a lot with the Hawaiian clothing. The actor "Elvis Presley" wore many beautiful floral dresses. The brightly colored Hawaiian shirt with white chinos was eye catching and became a trend later on.
  • Russian Influence - Dr. Zhivago (1965)
    Julie Christie in movie Dr. Zhivago
    In 1965, the costume worn by the actress "Julie Christie" in the movie Doctor Zhivago resulted in a fashion revolution. Julie looked stunning, wearing a fur hat, long military grey coat and boots. Her beautiful wardrobe collections of fur coats, hats, white shirts and ribbon bow-tied hair styles was used to illustrate social changes in Russia. Other eye catching costumes were the overcoats worn by Russian military and Julie's coat design.
  • Russian Influence - Yves St. Laurent (1976)
    European Peasant Dress - Yves St. Laurent
    Yves St. Laurent was recognized for his Winter Collection 1976 - 77. This collection included elements of European Peasant Dress (Embroidered Folk blouses, milkmaid's tunics and cossack [Russian] dress) which were fabulously converted into couture garments.
  • Egyptian Influence - King Tut's Treasures (1994)
    King Tut's Treasures
    US Designers were inspired from Tutankhamun (King Tut's treasures). In 1994, designers created few clothing items, jewellery and makeup which were inspired from these treasures.
  • Chinese Influence - (Late 1960's)
    Chinese Mao Suits
    In 1967, Chinese Mao Suits became popular and few years later the Chinese influence were brought into Western clothing. Mandarin collars, fabrics with typical Chinese motifs such as the dragon became very popular.
Julie Christie in the movie Dr Zhivago
Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii
King Tuts Treasures
Cultural Authentication of Indian Costumes in US
In 1960's, few of the Indian costume styles were also adopted into contemporary American Fashion.
  • Nehru's Jacket
    Nehru's Jacket and Mandarin Collar
    Nehru's Jacket with a Mandarin collar also known as Nehru's collar was popular among the Western dresses.
  • Resist Dyeing Method - Tie & Dye
    In the mid 1960's, the old Indian technique of resist-dyeing called Bandhani was globally accepted and was later known as Tie & Dye.
Resist Dyeing Method - Tie and Dye
Bandhani Resist Dyeing Method
Designers who influenced Fashion
  • Giorgio Armani
    Giorgio Armani
    The Italian Fashion Designer, Giorgio Armani has an immense contribution to the Fashion Industry. In 1980, Armani introduced Italian soft tailoring to Women's wear.
  • Rudi Gernreich
    Rudi Gernreich
    Rudi was popular for sport clothes, topless swimsuits, see-through blouses, no-bra bras.
  • Roy Halston Frowick
    Roy Halston Frowick
    Halston was an American Fashion Designer, who rose to international fame in the year 1970 for soft layered effects, jumpsuits and pantsuits.
  • Calvin Richard Klein
    Calvin Richard Klein
    Calvin Klein is an American Fashion Designer, who proved his excellence not only in the apparel sector but also has launched different products like perfumes, watches and jewellery. His designs have a spare, lean and simple look that make his products look sophisticated and really sexy.
  • Karl Otto Lagerfeld
    Karl Otto Lagerfeld
    Karl Lagerfeld, a German Fashion Designer, entered the fashion world by introducing his coat designs. Lagerfeld's introduced the use of rabbit and squirrel pelts into high fashion and these innovative designs became very popular and successful.
  • Ralph Lauren
    Ralph Lauren
    Ralph Lauren is an American Designer, who became popular for using natural fibres in fashion. His Western & Outdoor wear collections brought him to fame in the world of fashion.
See Through Blouse by Rudi Gernreich
No-bra Bras by Rudi Gernreich
Jumpsuits by Roy Halston
Karl Lagerfeld Fur Collection
Ralph Lauren Western Collection

Political Factors Influencing Fashion

During the 20th century, a number of important events have revolutionized production, influenced design and stimulated trade in textiles and clothing at both National & International levels.
  • First World War (1914 - 1918)
    Fashion during First World War
    During the First World War, women were forced to step out of their homes and work in factories. It was very dangerous to wear long dresses or even to have long hairs in the working atmosphere in the factory. Women had no choice rather than to trim their hair and wear shorter skirts and dresses. Fashion was effected due to shortage of money and unemployment after World War.
  • Second World War (1939 - 1945)
    Fashion after Second World War
    In 1940, during the Second World War, many countries went through recession. People had less money to spend and women started using shorter skirts and fewer clothes because it was less expensive. During this period leather and T-shirt became very popular.
  • Period between Wars
    Golden Age of the French Fashion
    There was a period between the two World Wars which was often considered as the Golden Age of the French Fashion. This was the time when some of the great changes happened like Prince & Princesses lost their thrones and carriages for transportation were replaced by cars. Wives and daughters of wealthy Industrialists, Actors, American heiresses started using Haute Couture dresses.
  • The First Lady - 1960
    The First Lady - Jacqueline Kennedy
    The First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was undeniably one of the greatest style icons of the early 1960�s. No one was able to match her looks. She was able to afford a sharp Chanel Suit, a geometric Givenchy shift dress or a pastel Oleg Cassini coat. She stole everyone attention with her bright pink dress design, perfectly paired with a pearl choker necklace and dazzling earrings.
  • Influence of Indian Leaders on Fashion
    Mahatma Gandhi and Khadi
    Mahatma Gandhi was known as the first true Indian Designer who urged people in India to wear clothes made of Khadi. It was his initiative which could prove the Unity of India. Khadi gained more recognition after Gandhi returned from South Africa. Gandhi understood that for a nation to be self-reliant, it has to start manufacturing their own products.
  • Influence of Mughal on Fashion
    Mughal Costume
    Women in the Rajput culture had much more freedom in dressing. Rajput women lost the freedom in dressing and had to cover their faces after the invasion of Mughals. Gradually the Pardha System was introduced and all women had to cover their faces as a part of the culture.
  • American Flag
    American Flag in Costumes
    In most of the countries, National Flag was not used in clothes as a respect towards the flag, whereas American's prominently used flag in their dresses which became a trend later on.
There are few other political and legal factors which effect the fashion industry. In many countries, issues such as workers' rights and child labour laws repeatedly effect the industry. Workers in the clothing industry protested as their wages and other benefits such as medical, over-time are less, compared to other industries which caused delay in the production.
Environmental Factors Influencing Fashion
Environmental Factors and Fashion
Weather is one of the most dominant factors which influence clothing. We choose our clothes to take protection from extreme climatic conditions like cold, heat, rain etc. The selection of clothing changes with environment. People wear bright and light clothes during summer whereas they prefer heavy and dull clothes during winter. Even in future, the clothing trends will always depend on atmospheric conditions in addition to other factors.
Psychological Factors Influencing Fashion
Men & Women are distinct in nature whose actions and choices are mostly different. Both Men & Women get fed up of the same patterns, designs, colors and textures. At a point of time, old clothes seem to be unattractive & dull and people often get bored with the usual stuffs they own and they often look for changes.
Few other factors which influence Fashion
  • Economical Factors
    Economical factors can have both negative and positive impacts on fashion. Nowadays people are pursuing higher education and enrolling themselves for professional courses. Soon after their education, they start earning which increased their spending power. Many countries are emerging from recession. As the economy strengthens, fashion industries come up with new trends for younger age group and for people with more spending capabilities. With young people joining administration, companies become more liberal and fashion becomes more expensive, colorful and extreme. Changes in fashion help to keep the clothing retailers, manufacturers stay in business. It also provides job oppourtunities in various other sectors like advertisement, modelling and digital & print media. Preceding the World War 2, almost all countries in the World went under a state of great recession. The recession started in 1929 and lasted till early 1940's and was the longest, most widespread and deepest recession of the 20th Century. The recession period varied across countries and this was used as an example of how worse the World's Economy could fall. In most of the countries in the world, unemployment rose 25 - 35 percentage. Economic growth and increasing wealth have been considered to accelerate the pace of fashion change, whereas high levels of unemployment and inflation reduce the pace of change in fashion.
  • Actors & other Celebrities
    Actors influencing Fashion
    Movie stars and other celebrities get a lot of public attention and so they are one of the main influencers of fashion. Famous designers often design collections for celebrities depending upon their personality and interest, which later on become popular.
  • Movies & Music Bands
    Influence of Music Bands over Fashion
    Hollywood movies have always been another great influencing factor of fashion. The outfits worn by the leading characters of a successful movie often grab the attention and become a fashion trend. Fancy accessories, costumes, jackets worn by Music artist also contribute towards popular fashion.
  • Occasion
    The choice of what to wear also depends on the occasion i.e people choose formal dresses to office, partywear for parties etc.
  • Sports Stars
    Influence of Sports like Tennis over Fashion
    In the early 20th century, a separate category for "Sportswear" was introduced. Earlier people were wearing their dailywear for the sports events they played. Sportwear has a major effect on day to day fashion. Nike was one of the very popular brands for Tracksuits which became popular in 1960. As tennis became a popular sport, it led to a sharp increase in the sales and consequently influenced the day to day fashion. The popular brand Adidas became an essential part in the casual wear segment which was often seen in the streets.
  • Fabric & Color
    Uniqueness, demand and weather are the factors that a fashion designer keep in mind during the selection of fabric and color. They interact closely with Color Experts and Textile Designers to figure out which pattern and color would be stylish in the future.
  • Technology
    Effect of Industrial Revolution on Fashion
    A rapid change in pace of fashion happened with Industrial Revolution when the mechanism of spinning and weaving were introduced. This increased intensity of production and dramatic increase in outputs.
  • Legal
    There are certain legal factors like copyrights, taxes, excise duty, patents, privatisation and globalisation which also effects the pace of fashion.
Published On   -  
Modified On   -   2021-06-22
Publisher   -   Waves Fashion Institute
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