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Fashion (from French mode ; Latin mode 'measure' or 'type', actually 'measured' or 'recorded') describes the rule that applies in a certain period of time to do, wear or consume things that are related to the People's demands have changed over time. Fashions are snapshots of a process of continuous change. Fashions are usually associated with short-term expressions of the zeitgeist . Comparatively longer-term expressions of the zeitgeist, which can hold a positive rating across several fashion waves, are not considered fashion, but classics . Very short-lived fashions, which often only revolve around an individual product, are called fads in English .

Every new fashion establishes new behavior, thinking and design patterns. Every new fashion brings with it new evaluations and evaluates existing phenomena in the human environment again and again. "Fashion" is colloquially often used synonymously with " clothing " as a shortening of the term " clothing fashion ". The adjective about fashion is fashionable (“according to fashion”), in contrast to “modern”, the adjective about modernity . Colloquially, the term “modern” is often used in the sense of “fashionable”. Examples of the establishment of new patterns of behavior, thought and form would be the constant shortening of skirt lengths for women since the beginning of the twentieth century, the behavior of showing more and more skin in swimwear and its social acceptance, or for men of the western culture, for example, wearing it a shirt outside the pants (which used to be interpreted as sloppiness and nowadays as casual casualness).

The term "fashion" includes the following aspects:

  • something that corresponds to the prevailing preferred taste or beliefs .
  • something that is currently customary: custom , custom , habit .
  • something that is subject to a constant process of change, a process of change with regard to what is seen as usual, predominant or in line with contemporary tastes in a social context.
  • something that narrows the choice


Engraving by Daniel Chodowiecki

From a sociological point of view, fashion expresses the assignment to certain groups of society - as well as the demarcation - and the adaptation of individuals in a certain period of time, the constant change of this norm as well as the constant questioning and the constant dissolution of existing norms.

The current spread of fashions is shaped by mass consumption , with advertising and mass media playing an important role. Globalization trends can also be observed in fashion in some areas .

The inhomogeneity of society plays an essential role in the spread of fashions. The interplay between conservative and conformist groups on the one hand and experimental, rebellious and individualistic groups on the other hand is of considerable importance.

Elements of new fashions are adopted more quickly by groups who are open to new ideas, who like to experiment, who are dissatisfied with the existing conditions, who want to change something, who experience themselves as different from the crowd, who don't want to get lost in the crowd and who want to present themselves as independent personalities, who like to differentiate themselves from the mass of the population or from the establishment in terms of their self-image . This is especially true for young people who want to differentiate themselves externally from the older generations. For them the propagated fashions are suggestions for the search for their own style , for the desire for provocation or simply suggestions for the fun aesthetic game.

Little by little - the more the new tendencies can be experienced in public space - less innovative and more adventurous sections of the population adopt the new fashion, until in the end extremely conservative and traditionalist milieus are reached that want to "keep up" and whose fashion behavior depends more on the The need to belong, in particular , is shaped by the motif “ integration through assimilation ”. For them, fashion is a form of conformity ( conformism ) with the reference group or society as well as often a form of aesthetic affirmation of existing relationships. By then, at the latest, these fashions will no longer be of interest to the more innovative and individualistic sections of the population.

Psychology and Social Psychology of Fashion

Modern costume and its role model , fashion-critical caricature from the weekly Fliegende Blätter , 1891

In connection with a psychology of fashion, the following aspects are often mentioned:

A number of basic needs work together, from which the fads can be explained psychologically: The basic need for attention in order to attract attention or arouse interest. The basic need for recognition, meaning and to please yourself and others. The need for variety and individuality are also important, although the latter seems to contradict the desire for conformity.

However, this explanatory pattern falls short, because fashion is a highly complex social phenomenon that has its roots in very different individual and collective needs.

Without the complementary needs of belonging and demarcation, conformism and individualism , expression and camouflage, exhibitionism and concealment, the phenomenon can certainly not be explained.

Still, that's only part of the cause of fashion. There are also an unmanageable number of individual factors. For example, the personal meaning of specific current fashion topics and images for the individual personality and the corresponding life experience. This becomes particularly clear in clothing fashion: clothing, including fashionable clothing, is often a very personal expression of an individual attitude to life, a current mood or of longings, dreams and visions. In this respect, clothing is also an everyday role-play or role-taking, an appropriation of dreamed-of roles. But even that is only one example that can also be used outside the field of clothing.

Fashion historians specializing in sociology research and document the cultural history of fashion and certain items of clothing.

Fashion waves

Under fashion waves or fashion currents one understands appearances of different "fashions", which have a rather short-term or periodic character. The word has a slightly derogatory to humorous aftertaste - which alludes to the easy influenceability and dependence of many contemporaries. By critical voices mode waves can pass quickly, but also increase. Fashion waves are often “born” by trendsetters or at major events and events , but they can also arise spontaneously . Typical examples are


  • “You can't escape fashion. Because even when fashion goes out of fashion, it's back in fashion. " ( Karl Lagerfeld )
  • "The fashions change because they themselves arise from the need to change." ( Marcel Proust )
  • "Fashion is the most expensive uniform requirement in the world." ( Maurice Chevalier )
  • "Fashion is such an unbearable form of ugliness that we have to change it every six months." ( Oscar Wilde )

See also




  • Yvonne Deslandres, Florence Müller: Histoire de la mode au XXème siècle . Somogy, Paris 1986.
  • Akiko Fukai et al: Fashion History . Taschen, Cologne 2008.
  • Ingrid Loschek: Fashion of the century: Chronicle of fashion from 1900 to today . Battenberg, Munich 2001.
  • Gabriele Mentges: European clothing fashion (1450–1950) . European History Online , ed. from the Institute for European History (Mainz) , 2011, urn : nbn: de: 0159-20101025418 .
  • Erika Thiel: History of fashion - from the beginnings to the present - in texts and with over 800 pictures . Weltbild Verlag, Augsburg 1990, ISBN 3-89350-126-6 .
  • Wolfgang E. Weick, Alfried Wieczorek, Gisela Framke, Petra Hesse-Mohr (eds.): EVET - Yes, I want! Wedding culture and fashion from 1800 to today: a German-Turkish encounter. 2008, ISBN 978-3-927774-24-7 .

Philosophy and sociology

  • Christian Garve : About the fashions. Experiments on various subjects from morality, literature and social life , Breslau 1792.
  • Friedrich Kleinwächter: On the philosophy of fashion . In: F. v. Holtzendorff (ed.): German disputes and questions of time. Pamphlets for Knowledge of the Present , Volume 9, Issue 129, Berlin 1880.
  • Georg Simmel : Philosophy of Fashion (1905/06). In: ders .: Complete edition , ed. v. O. Rammstedt, 24 volumes. Frankfurt a. M. 1989-2015, Volume 10, pp. 9-37.
  • Georg Simmel: Die Mode (1911). In: ders .: Complete edition , ed. v. O. Rammstedt, 24 volumes, Frankfurt a. M. 1989-2015, Vol. 14, pp. 186-218.
  • Hubertus Busche: Simmel's philosophy of fashion - old-fashioned or current? In: Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie , 2015.1–2 (2015), pp. 223–239.
  • Herbert Blumer: Fashion: From Class Differentiation to Collective Selection . In: The Sociological Quarterly , 10.3 (1969), pp. 275-291.
  • Elena Esposito : The Commitment of the Temporary: Paradoxes of Fashion . Frankfurt a. M. 2004.
  • Doris Schmidt: The fashion of society. A systems theory analysis . 2nd Edition. Baltmannsweiler 2013.


  • F. Kiener: Clothing, fashion, people - attempt at a psychological interpretation. Munich / Basel 1956.

Fashion in cartoon

  • Ridikül! - Fashion in Caricature , publication accompanying the exhibition Ridikül! Fashion in Caricature 1600 to 1900 of the Art Library - National Museums in Berlin , December 5, 2003 to February 15, 2004, Ed .: Adelheid Rasche and Gundula Wolter. SMB-DuMont, Berlin and Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-8321-7388-9 .

Fashion for those in need of care

  • Lucina Zimmermann: Nursing fashion - How getting dressed is easier. Windsor Verlag, Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-1-627846-22-6 .

reference books

  • Valerie Steele (Ed.): Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion . 3 volumes. Thomson Gale, Detroit et al. 2005.
  • Ingrid Loschek: Reclam's fashion and costume lexicon. 5th edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-15-010577-3 .
  • Ingrid Loschek: fashion designer. A dictionary from Armani to Yamamoto. 3. Edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-56492-5 .
  • Ingrid Loschek: Accessories. Symbolism and history. Bruckmann, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-7654-2629-6 .

Fashion professions

  • Susanne Pavlovic: Something to do with fashion. The most important training courses and professions . Edition Aumann, Coburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-942230-27-8 .


  • Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture . 1997 ff.


Web links

Commons : fashion  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Mode  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rainer Wenrich: The mediality of fashion: clothing as a cultural practice. Perspectives for a fashion science . transcript Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-8394-2559-6 , pp. 405 ff.
  2. Gaby Mentges, Nina Schack, Heike Jenss, Heide Nixdorff: Cultural anthropology of textiles . Edition Ebersbach, December 1, 2005, pp. 64, 78 and 81.
  3. Nike versus Gucci: Sneakers are the latest luxury fashion battlefield. In: Grailify - Sneaker News. Retrieved March 4, 2020 .