An Extensive Study on Fashion Theory
Md.Tanvirul Haque Bhuiyan
Dept. of Apparel Manufacturing
National Institute of Textile Engineering & Research (NITER),
Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Email : email@example.com
Fashion is a popular way of dressing during a particular time or among a particular group of people. It refers to the styles that are accepted and used by people at a given time. It is what designers create for a selected population which later becomes a trend. Fashion involves change, novelty, and the context of time, place, and wearer. Blumer (1969) describes fashion influence as a process of “collective selection” whereby the formation of taste derives from a group of people responding collectively to the zeitgeist or “spirit of the times.”
The term ‘fashion theory’ refers to an interdisciplinary field that discusses fashion as a meaning of system within which cultural and aesthetic portrayals of the clothed body are produced. The theory of fashion has been described by the movement, a flow, or trickle from one element of society to another. The embrace of influences from center to periphery may be conceived of in hierarchical or in horizontal terms, such as-
- Trickle-down theory
- Trickle-across theory
- Trickle-up theory
1. Trickle-down theory or Down ward flow theory:
Trickle-down theory is the assumption that fashion trends start among the upper class or fashion leaders and move down to the masses or fashion followers. The “trickle-down” theory offers a straightforward way of predicting fashion diffusion. It is based on the traditional process of copying and adapting trendsetting fashion from fashion hubs and well known designers. Couture designer fashion is expensive and it is affordable by only a few people. Those designs are copied again and again at lower prices until they have been seen often by the conservative buyers. It starts from to high fashion to the common people. The origin of the theory is generally attributed to sociologist Georg Simmel. But world’s oldest and most accepted fashion theory was described by Veblen in 1899 and then Simmel in1904, asserts that fashions are accepted by people of lower socioeconomic income levels only after they have been worn by people of upper socioeconomic income levels. These styles are seen on high-fashion runways. Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat, Barbara Bush’s pearls, Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits these are the example of trickle-down theory.
2. Trickle-across theory:
The changes in the 20th century led to this theory, changes like- leveling of class structures; role of mass media on the spread of fashion information; accelerated rate of fashion change and aesthetic research. Members of each social group look at the leaders of their own group for fashion trends. Under this view, fashion can occur in any field and the fashion elite is created through the fashion process, which is a system of collective selection. This theory was described by Robinson in 1958, King in 1963 and Blumerin1969. A leader within each class influences peers or a leader of one group affects the other group members. Here, the fashion innovators buy early and are the visual leaders. The fashion influential are those who define looks and standards within peer groups. According to this theory, designer’s fashions are copied quickly for mass production, providing similar styles at most price ranges. However, they don’t become popular until the fashion leaders of each group have accepted them. The hair style of Rachel Green a fictional character on the NBC situation comedy “Friends”, portrayed by actress Jennifer Aniston is an example of trickle across theory.
3. Trickle-up theory or upward flow theory or Bubble-up pattern:
Among the fashion movement theories trickle-up theory is the newest theory. The assumption that fashion trends start among the young or lower income groups and move upward to older or higher income groups. In this theory the innovation is initiated from street, so to speak and adopted from lower income groups and eventually flows to upper income groups. The designers in the 21st century are participating in this theory by having drawn inspiration and incorporated styles based in the streets into their collections making it more mainstream and acceptable amongst the masses. According to this theory, style originates with the lower class and gains approval by upper class or the fashion elite. Some popular example of trickle-up theory are ripped jeans, leather jackets and “Punk Style” trend which originated with the punk subculture of England who often sported dark black leather jackets, military style combat boots. After World War –II the people discovered Army/Navy surplus stores and began to wear pea jackets and khaki pants. The T-Shirt initially worn by laborers as a functional and practical undergarment has since been adopted universally as a casual outer garments.
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- These three theories are also applicable for different products and marketing system, we have discussed their applicability only on fashion marketing.
- ‘Fashion Theory: A Reader’ by Malcolm Barnard