Fashion: A Very Short Introduction
Fashion is a dynamic global industry that plays an important role in the economic, political, cultural, and social lives of an international audience. It spans high art and popular culture, and plays a significant role in material and visual culture. This book introduces fashion's myriad influences and manifestations. Fashion is explored as a creative force, a business, and a means of communication. From Karl Lagerfeld's creative reinventions of Chanel's iconic style to the multicultural reference points of Indian designer Manish Arora, from the spectacular fashion shows held in nineteenth century department stores to the mix-and-match styles of Japanese youth, the book examines the ways that fashion both reflects and shapes contemporary culture. Using historical and contemporary examples, it gives a clear understanding of how fashion has developed since the renaissance, while raising questions about its status, ethical credibility, and influence on consumers. The book provides insight into the structure of the fashion industry and how fashions are designed, promoted and consumed, in relation to relevant historical, social and cultural contexts. It is structured thematically, to look at the role and development of designers, the growth of shopping and the different businesses involved in making and selling fashionable clothes. Fashion's relationship to the wider culture is also explored, by considering its representation in art and collaborations between designers and artists, the moral controversies surrounding fashion, and attempts to produce ethical clothing, and the effects of globalisation on the fashion trade. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Fashion is an inevitable part of our daily lives, whether we recognize it as such or not. This book, however, deals with a very specific form of fashion, and that is the wardrobe fashion. In particular, with the wardrobe fashion in the West over the last few centuries. Fashion is very closely associated with art, and as such it is not possible to write about it in an exact and entirely objective way. However, it is possible to be systematic about it and remove as much of a subjective taste judgments as possible. In that regard, this book succeeds admirably. Oftentimes accounts of fashion are written in an overinflated flowery language that manages to confuse more than enlighten, but this short introduction eschews all such diffusive narrative and presents its subject in a very matter of fact and accessible style. It focuses on the historic development of the fashion industry, its sources of inspiration and the symbiotic existence that it has with the wider popular culture. Chapter on ethical aspects of fashion examines the negative practices that have been garnering a lot of spotlight recently - the use of fur, the harsh working conditions of many garment workers, and the promotion of stereotypes in advertising. It also talks about the ethical issues that were more prominent in the past, but which still reverberate, such as modesty, and gender and identity aspects of fashion. However, to author's credit, the book does not dwell on any of these issues extensively. In my opinion they have been getting an inordinate amount of traction in the media as it is.
Even, as mentioned earlier, the book deals primarily with Western fashion, the increasing globalization and the interconnectedness of the world means that many non-Westerners are having an increasing impact on the fashion industry. Consequently the book spends a whole chapter on globalization.
Overall, this is a fairly interesting overview of fashion, its history and major trends. Reading it may not make you into a stylish person, but it will is bound to inform and educate.