Fashion at the forefront of change

Industry experts explain how fashion trends match social and political movements

From weather patterns to iconic public figures, fashion has its influence rooted in a variety of sources. 

Two such elements are social and political movements which often have a part to play in shaping fashion trends. 

The fashion industry is “progressive” in that it is always trying to express trends that coincide with political (and social) changes through clothing, said Yue Shi, a student in the fashion management program at George Brown College (GBC). 

Predictions are made by agencies recognized in the fashion community that closely follow social and political changes as they happen. 

The #MeToo Movement is one example of a social and political influence on fashion which is pushing for the diversification of several environments into more inclusive spaces for women and other affected groups. 

Another example is how people started to become more environmentally conscious in the ’70s. People became more environmentally conscious and so more natural fibers like cotton and silk and nature-inspired motifs like florals became popular, said Leah Barrett, a professor in the school of fashion studies at the college. 

Then there was the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States which pushed the public to voice their need for change through their fashion choices.  

“Her (Ivanka Trump) father really was influential in terms of her having to shut down her label,” Winnie Leung said, another professor in the school of fashion studies at GBC.

Although Ivanka Trump was respected in the fashion community, the public was quick to make a connection between her brand and relationship with the president, forcing retailers to cut ties with her, Leung further explained.  

Collections on the runway also reflected these changes.

A couple of seasons ago, a past designer for Burberry had all the male models wear lace shirts, an unusual move for menswear at the time according to Shi. 

It was “to blur the boundary between menswear and womenswear, and I think that’s his silent way of saying that we should really break down the barrier between the gender(s),” Shi said. 

The fashion management student also predicted that menswear is headed towards formality once again, but more casual where knitwears and sweaters would accompany blazers and coats.

Shi also said that the blazer of the ’80s is back but less pronounced than before to still provide an empowering and relaxed look, a change from the tight-fitted blazers worn heavily before by women.

So if you are to take a closer look at trends, it becomes clear that society not only has an influence on fashion but fashion has its own influences on society as well. 

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Fashion at the forefront of change