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What is the meaning of fashion? And has it changed throughout the generations?

Fashion seems to be an easy word, associated with anything wearable. Its meaning goes around the world as a pilgrim, looking for different places to settle down or discover different points of views to evolve.

Origin of the word fashion.

From the past to the present, many a guru and icon have tried to define it and through the ages have submitted a meaning that we believe is it. To understand how the meaning of fashion has changed from the past to the present, we have to go back (just a little bit) in time. Firstly, we have to explore the root of the word ‘fashion’ and its real meaning. According to Oxford/Cambridge dictionaries the etymology of the word is related to different origins: from Middle English 'facioun' to Old French 'façon', appearance, manner, passing by Latin 'factiō or factiōn', a making, from 'factus', past participle of facere, to make, do.

Other dictionaries define fashion as the prevailing style (as in dress) during a particular time, or a garment in such a style, a prevailing custom, usage or style and more as a social standing or prominence, especially as signalized by dress or conduct.

From the official meaning to now, the word 'fashion' has gone through a long process of regeneration and evolution, so much so that nobody recalls the ancient meaning or where and why the word originates from.

Fashion has never had an easy life since its creation. The past taught to us that fashion, generally, was accessible only to the upper class and only the most daring and enterprising, whose creative mind gave them the impetus for a career in fashion. Put simply, it was a world divided into two - the rich and enterprising and the poor and less brave in the race for that unreachable world. Who on one side and on the other, in his own way tried to appropriate himself or sought a place in the world, where fashion acted as a stage.

The meaning of fashion nowadays depends on who you are or how intrusively you have studied the art form. The logic of fashion seems dictated by the most influential brands or influencers with a large following. Millennium and Boomlets, which are the most social networking generations are actually more instinctual about fashion when it comes to social networks, much more than via the medium of studying the subject.

Have you thought about the meaning of fashion? The harsh reality shows us a mirror of fashion through what the virtual world shows us every day and we don't ask ourselves how and where fashion was born and how we came to perceive it only through the digital world - but sorry to disappoint you; fashion is not just what you see through social networks!

Respect for fashion

If for a moment you forget social networks and what they deliver to us in terms of fashion, we could think about it as a ‘subject’ with a powerful message to share with those who would love to acknowledge it in a deeper way, instead of the treatment of fashion only as an ‘object’ of desire, revealing the original and natural meaning for a handful of likes!


Alessandra Guerrieri studied Communication and Social Media and later specialised in Communication and Fashion Journalism. She has contributed articles to Vogue Italy where her creativity has been expressed through her fashion writing, as she holds a vast knowledge in fashion culture and history.


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