The Cultures Behind Fashion Trends

From gladiator sandals to skinny jeans to animal prints – one has to wonder, what influences fashion trends? Where do all of these ideas, some of them great and some downright bizarre, come from and how do they gain so much popularity, spreading like wildfire until practically everyone on the planet who can afford it is wearing a particular item? Even if you’re not particularly fond of following fashion trends, you have to admit that there’s something to be said for a particular style of clothing that can move millions of people around the world to dress in it.

So what influences fashion trends? In a nutshell, fashion trends are made by people for people and are a reflection of human nature and human activities. You wear something as an expression of who you are, what you believe in and where you come from, meaning you are representing a certain kind of fashion culture that you are either a part of or that you want to be a part of.

High Culture

The idea of high culture is synonymous with luxury and a sense of exclusivity. These involve things like painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, literature and the like. What influences fashion trends can be seen in certain famous fashion houses, not only in their clothing lines but in their advertising campaigns too. For example, Gianni Versace’s logo is that of Medusa from Greek mythology, a stylized drawing on a golden, medallion-like background, which lends an air of bold artistry to his clothing line, along with a sense of high-end sophistication and glamorous seduction.

Pop Culture

Think the sixties and it’s tie-dye and peace medallions, while the seventies was all about the bell bottoms and platform shoes. This is one of the key answers to what influences fashion trends. Pop culture is basically what the media and the press hype up every day you turn on the TV or go online. This is the culture of celebrities and famous personalities whom everyone else wants to look like, and of clothing produced for the masses. For example, if a popular celebrity is photographed wearing a specific coat, sales on that coat are sure to skyrocket as certain popular celebrities are considered global fashion icons and role models. This is why many fashion labels turn to celebrities to endorse their clothing, accessories and footwear. Pop culture sells a certain lifestyle that people want to have and qualities that people want to possess.

Subculture

This is the culture of the “streets,” of those considered out of the mainstream, such as the hip-hop, graffiti, rock and punk scenes or the surf and skateboard cultures. If classified simply, this is the more bohemian aspect of fashion, of individualistic and unique styles, like the low-slung, baggy jeans that were primarily connected with the hip-hop scene or graffiti art on sneakers associated with skateboarding. The thing about subculture however is that it tends to turn into pop culture given enough time and attention. What influences fashion trends are the same things that keep these same trends constantly changing and that is something about fashion that will never go out of style.

An Overview of Fashion in the 1970’s

Fashions in the 1970s were far more relaxed than those in the 1960s before, many emerging design showed signs of nostalgia with designers taking influence from previous decades. Laura Ashley was noted as being heavily influenced by Edwardian style dresses and prints. Barbara Hulanicki’s Biba label produced a 20s/30s influenced look with long cotton skirts, long sleeved shirts or smock and a floppy brimmed hat. The use of 30s inspired colourings, the two tone black and cream or brown and cream, could be seen in shoes and ‘office work wear’ styles.

By looking back the fashion designers were still continuing the new fashion trends for the new ideas, ideologies and social freedoms that were sought for both men and women.

Distinct fashion styles for certain youth groups became apparent again through this decade in the attempt of identification of the differing subcultures. Several mainstream trends came and went such as the glam fashion (David Bowie inspired) and disco fashion. (John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever 1977) The hippie/ethnic fashion trends of flared jeans, tie die shirts, peasant blouses, hair-bands and sandals continued from the sixties. More influence from other cultures became incorporated as social awareness of social and environmental issues increased.

In the early seventies the short skirts and ‘hot pants’ launched by Mary Quant in the 60s were still very popular, dresses however were available for all in three established lengths, the mini (as the mini skirt), the midi (calf length) and the maxi (ankles). Long flowing ‘boho’ skirts and the inspired hippie styles were very popular.

Footwear started to become more exotic with the platform shoes that appeared in the early seventies, their huge soles of several inches thickness for mainly women and some men! Health warnings accompanied this fashion about potential damage to your back, however you do not hear many people saying they injured their back in the 70s wearing platform shoes although my mother blames a pair of winkle pickers for her bunions.

Men’s clothing continued on the brighter flamboyant note from the previous decade. Flared denim jeans, once a symbol of manual work and now a fashion statement, along with a cheesecloth shirt is perhaps the most common image associated with men from the 70s. However the glitter, heels, bright colours and disco-wear was available for all genders as the trends passed through.

Lapels on all shirts and jackets grew in size and the kipper tie appeared to be necessary for the smarter male outfit. Longer hair and beards were considered very fashionable for men, the hippie and psychedelic influences were still in the fashion statements although the pop music had started to move on.

By the end of the seventies it was socially acceptable for most people to wear jeans and mostly flared jeans at that. Printed T-shirts became very popular in this decade along with trainers and canvas shoes. The inspiration and ideals behind the hippie styles from the late 60s were not as apparent in society but the fashions stayed.

Then Punk Fashion emerged onto the scene with the original Punk band, The Sex Pistols. The legendary Vivien Westwood was the partner of The Sex Pistols’ promoter, Malcolm McLaren, and is credited with creating the original Punk look.

This look was based around black leather, ripped denim and slogans on T-shirts intended to provoke and insult people who thought along what was considered mainstream ideals. The punk message was ‘destroy’. This destruction was of anything considered as mainstream good taste. Spiked hair dyed bright colours and second hand clothes ripped to shreds to demonstrate a rejection of the accepted fashions and ideals. The punk trend continued well into the 1980s.

Obscure Up and Coming Fashion Trends for Men

Fashion tastes have covered every idea imaginable, or so it would seem, from the dowdy dress of the early 20th century – with such examples as the bowler hat – to the craziness of the early 21st century – the meat dress worn by Lady Gaga being a case in point. There have been so many fashion trends during the course of history, that we have surely run out of ideas? Not so, with a new year, brings a new wave of trendy clothing. Here, we will look at upcoming trends in men’s clothing.

As always, when looking for the up and coming fashion trends, the first place to turn our attention is the catwalk. Within the world of men’s fashion, we normally see no more than a slight variation of the traditional t-shirt and jeans, and this year is no exception. The t-shirt has been subject to a massive overhaul, however, and men should run for cover now, apparently, we will be seeing a fashion movement that holds men’s crop tops as this season’s fashion must have item! Expect to see plenty of male midriffs this year, particularly during the summer and spring. There are still a few months left of winter to ensure that you have a buff body, right in time for the crop top take-over.

For office workers, we are likely to see a return in fashion to the briefcase. Our advice, however, is not to combine the look with a crop top – somehow, we cannot see that taking off, but stranger things have happened! For men who want to stay ahead of the trend, investing in a high quality briefcase will set you in good stead.

Men’s clothing is taking a turn away from the demure colours of black, brown, blue, and white. This year, it is all about colour. Furthermore, expect to combine bright colours in single outfits, with bright tops and bright trousers. Nevertheless, remember, always make sure you select colours that match, if in doubt, remember the ditty ‘red and green should never be seen, except for on a Christmas tree’.

For those men amongst you, who do not like to wear bright colours, do not fear, another trend sees a return to the Gothic looks of the late 1990s. This means wearing lots of dark denim, and investing in a great pair of leather shoes.

Fortunately, other trends are not so drastic, and you should not rush home and empty your wardrobe ready to replace them with a completely new ensemble. Men’s clothing is great, because fashion always allows men to fall back on the classic look: dark jeans, lighter shirts, black or brown shoes. Moreover, the classic look always looks great and men are fortunate in that respect.

Men’s fashion is becoming increasingly important in contemporary society, with more choice today than ever before, indeed, men’s fashion is slowly approaching women’s fashion in regards to the massive range of style and design available.