Reflection on Fashion

Reflection on the Definition of Fashion

Previously, I tend to define fashion as a field that revolved around styling ability, clothing, and aesthetics in fashion design. However, my perspectives about the definition of fashion have shifted since the beginning of the semester. In general, “Fashion refers to the symbolic, aesthetic, and cultural meanings that objects carry, especially the ways in which people use objects to express their taste, lifestyle, social status and belonging to a community”. That is, I realized that fashion is closely related to many social issues, particularly sustainability, feminism, and material culture. First of all, fashion is not just about the design and manufacturing of clothing, but also a key term that reminds the mainstream consumers of necessity to comply with ethical rules and sustainability principles. According to the assigned reading, it inspires social members to ponder over how people can use diverse types of materials to meet their fundamental human needs, which mainly include material needs and non-material needs. A specific example is the controversial fast fashion. As pointed out by researchers, the fast-fashion grows at the cost of human health risks, overconsumption of resources and environmental pollution, particularly during the growth of water-intensive cotton and the consumption of chemicals for dying clothing. In addition, fashion also reflects and influences social culture, such as feminist movements and material culture. For instance, when females of different races, ethnicity, age groups, nationality, etc stand against one-size-fits-all piece beauty standards or dress codes and refuse to dress to fit for the male gaze, they are more likely to get empowered thanks to the contribution of fashion. Alternatively, as social members enjoy diversified options of materials for fashion design and manufacturing of clothing, they can also influence material culture. Overall, the complicated definition of fashion and its connection to socio-cultural phenomena inspire my future work. 



Bick, Rachel, Erika Halsey & Christine C. Ekenga. “The global environmental injustice of fast fashion.” Environmental Health, vol.17, no.92, 2018,

Fletcher, Kate. Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2014.

Pan,Yue, David Roedl, Eli Blevis and John C. Thomas. “Fashion Thinking: Fashion Practices and Sustainable Interaction Design.” International Journal of Design 9, no.1, 2015, pp.11-19.

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