Thursday 2 July 2009

Fashion - Catalyst For Social Change

Midway through the last century, fashion and style began to
take on a much more complex connection to the social issues of
the day. When the Beatles exploded on the scene in the early
60's, style became much more tightly connected to point of view
and political persuasion than at any time in the past. As time
has gone on, the fashion world has been increasingly vocal about
many of the social problems of the day.

One of the first points of contact between fashion and social
issues was the Vietnam War and the developing opposition to that
conflict. Invariably, those strongly opposed to the war wore
their hair long and favored tie-dyed "hippie" clothes while
those who supported the conflict wore their hair short and chose
clothes that were much more conservative in nature.

When the opposition succeeded in hastening an end to the
Vietnam conflict, it seemed only natural that these activists
(as they were now called) would turn their attention to other
pressing social issues and style and fashion offered several
flashpoints which could be exploited.

Animal rights activists came down hard on the fashion industry
for supporting the cruel capture and killing of animals in order
to support many of the popular styles of the day including furs,
minks and other clothing. This led to a number of consumer
boycotts and those wearing the clothing were often confronted on
the street.

It was about this time that Hollywood began to inject itself
much more strongly into social issues and thus began a long line
of actors and actresses who would take strong stands on these
issues and again, the fashion world was the perfect target.

When the United States began to lose its' once predominant
position in the textile industry, most of the industry shifted
to lesser developed parts of the world where working conditions
often approached "sweatshop" status. With Hollywood taking the
lead, consumers boycotted many of the companies that used these
ill-treated workers to make the garments and, in many cases,
succeeded in changing company policy. This type of boycott was
especially successful in getting companies to stop doing
business with areas of the world that employed child labor under
unusually harsh conditions.

In today's world, fashion is becoming more closely aligned with
the Green movement and it is becoming fashionable these days to
be "eco-chic" and this trend appears to be gaining momentum. As
consumers become more educated about the complexities of the
garment business, they will want to know about all the details
that are involved in getting clothing to the marketplace and
will expect to get the same level of transparency from clothing
companies that they now expect from the food industry.

Fashion and style, in the past, were all about creating an
image but now that image can also include the personal value set
of the wearer and it looks as if this connection between fashion
and social issues is here to stay.

About The Author: The Teacher (aka John Pawlak) has been
involved in education for over 25 years. He has developed a
series of fashion websites which include, and among others.

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