The power of the fashion industry Essay

The fashion industry; something which is greatly admired for its never-ending evolution throughout each new season or which many fear or ignore due to its commonly acquired pretentious ego. We are all slaves to this colourful universe, filled with ruffles, ribbons and runways, which is both loved and loathed across the globe. Whether we like it or not, fashion is an art from which we can never escape. I in fact do not wish to be exempt from it. I want to dive down the rabbit hole of silks, slips and stilettos and emerge as trendy styled model from a page in a glossy magazine. I am not alone in my pursuit to become part of exclusive fashion elite; I am joined by an army of millennials who believe that the latest issue of Vogue is our new bible.

The millennial of today are all seeking a new form of self-expression, and fashion seems to be the only tool that has stood the test of time. What better way to express our internal struggles and mental confusion than through the medium of clothing? The solution has remained mostly the same in terms of self- expression; allowing us to ascertain certain character exteriors by the clothes we adorn ourselves with. If I see someone in an all-black attire - goth. If I see a girl in trainers and a hoodie - a tomboy. If I wear a short skirt and a low-cut top? Well... you get where I'm coming from. Our clothing choices choose our life, well to be less dramatic, it chooses how we are perceived to the world. While we are unable to control other opinions, our appearance does alter views of our surrounding peers. We are judged by our exterior and we are fitted into specific cliques by society. We are all walking clothes hangers from different styled stores desperately trying to express our individuality through scraps of leather and lace.

The lives of the millennial generation are far more controlled by the fashion industry than they like to believe; its affects more than their clothing choice but every aspect of their lives. For most people everyday fashion used to be something they read about, wear or buy in stores, but for generation Y it has become a new art form. It has been brought to the world’s attention, this industry holds more power over our heads than we care to admit. Despite its beautiful exterior, this industry has gained the label of slowly self-destructing our millennial populations self-confidence and self-love throughout the media. It is said to be deteriorating individual’s self-esteem, while narrowing society’s vision of beauty. Society comments that it holds this elusive power over humanity, controlling our minds – creating a certain perception of beauty. To me, how beauty is perceived and defined in our world, is a misconception of everyone’s beliefs. Beauty is not a universal idea. It holds a different form in every different culture, including the fashion industries. Anyone can easily justify, that this industry cannot plead guilty in forming society’s view of ‘perfection’. But unlike any other art form, the beauty that is often created in fashion is incredibly short lived, it's a moment. At its best, it burns brightly and quickly and can never be duplicated. That ability to change, to constantly renew itself is probably what makes the fashion industry inescapable.

I don't care to deny that I am influenced by those who dominate this industry. If I see a model wearing a pair of white adidas trainers, maybe I want some. Or perhaps if a girl I know looks very chic in a little black dress, then I may be tempted to emulate that. It's a constant cycle. Our younger generation are all beginning to morph into one fashion stereotype. Despite our search for individuality, we can all be accused of morphing into a bunch of Kylie Jenner clones. She just happens to be on top of the clothing chain right now, but neither she nor her stylist decided for her to wear something because it came to them in a dream or it popped up on their Pinterest boards. She decided to wear something because it came to her in a little black box from Fendi or Gucci or Prada.

I would consider myself a fashion enthusiast and someone who can march to the beat of my own drum, but unfortunately, in the world of fashion, these statements pose dramatic conflicts of interest. Like what most would think, I choose my outfit every day, but, no one individual really decides this, the fashion industry does. Yes, I may put something on in various states of consciousness every morning, but it's not really me, it’s not really my choice. There comes a point where we must realise that the reins are held by a more powerful entity than us, and we have relinquished our power entirely. That striped shirt I bought last weekend, wasn’t there because that shop decided it or technically the brand either; some high up designer brought stripes into spring, and that style slowly filtered its way down from high end designers to department shops and into my wardrobe. Although many try to be exempt from this control, everything was picked for everyone from a higher up title in the chain. No matter what arguments are put forward, by those who choose not to associate with this industry, every piece of clothing has a link to some previous fashion trend, whenever they care to admit it or not. It is impossible to cut all ties to such a powerful field in our current culture.

The youth especially, are dominated by this repetitive culture of control. Despite all of our ongoing searches for individuality, everyone continuously seems to fall back into the same line. You may criticise the young people of today for slipping so readily into this slave status, but I beg you to hold back your critique and simply place yourself in our shoes (they may be a bit tight but we will see how we will go). I am a young individual, so I can speak from experience when I say that we have no choice in the power the fashion industry has over us. It's absolutely everywhere. If you scroll through my social media platforms, you will see a collage of fashion statements, red carpet appearances and ads for the latest clothing. Even from a young age, I remember the first moment I watched my mother slip on her first designer heels, this crucial moment in time, seeing how such ordinary items of clothing can bring people such joy and confidence is what catalysed her passion for fashion to be transfer into me. These reoccurring influences have been constant throughout my life, and while living in the age of the internet, it is easy to see how much authority this industry can have on the development of individuals. As of course, I'm going to be influenced by all of those factors. Of course, this constant bombardment of fashion is going to have an impact on me.

For example, if the fashion industry says red is in, we wear red. They tell us that animal print is the new florals, we all transform into various creatures from the jungle. They tell us shoulder pads are 'so last season', there is suddenly a mass burning commencing in our backyards. It's like we have entered into a game of 'Simon Says' but we seem to have forgotten the rule book.

But the fashion industry didn’t seize this immense power over our generation overnight. They have clothes horses all around the world galloping in New York, London, Milan and Paris in fresh new clothes made by up-coming designers. They have multiple herds of celebrities and socialites cantering around with iconic red soles attached to their hooves. I am a personal slave to this world of fashion and accept this with open arms. I want a Prada bag and a pair of Manolo’s because some clothes horse in the upper hierarchy has one. And at least I can admit that. I don’t dislike the fact my clothing choices taken a nod to the current trends like many others do, and I personally look up to style icons like Anna Wintour who affect everyone’s life unknowingly, in one small but mighty aspect, with great admiration.

Am I saying this industry has a negative effect on the world? No. I do admit that it is scary how much power and influence fashion has over myself and my generation, but I think that it must be accepted within our lives. I love fashion and everything that comes along with it. I love covering myself in lush materials - anything from the satin slips to shiny stilettos; sign me up. I believe fashion is an outlet, an escape, a wonderland of possibility for all.

I may not be able to sing like Sinatra or paint like Picasso, but fashion allows me to express my own creativity through an alternative medium. I’m willing to follow the rules of the road, or in this case, the runaway; and I’m willing to allow top fashion designers and journalists teach and guide me along my journey.

If I can feel confident in my own skin, layered in this seasons trends, I will happily dance to the beat of the fashion industry’s drum; and I will see all my millennials behind me, dancing in unison.

How to cite this essay: