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Fashion Has Power to Build Bridges and Walls Among People

Fashion connects and differentiates us

The clothing we wear express our personality. Mostly we think about fashion as about something individual. Of course, we tend to follow trends, but at the end of the day, it is our personal style which determines what we have in our closets. However, let’s not forget that fashion is something that more or less we all have in common. Fashion connects and differentiates us.

Sometimes it is not as simple as just whether we like what we buy and wear. Our style reflects the society we live in, and it even makes us feel like part of a particular community. Just think about the history.

Fashion and community through centuries

Fashion has always reflected the social changes and was developing throughout the centuries. It was not difficult to figure out where the person stands, whether he belonged to the nobility or was a peasant, for example.

The more the world was coming out of the darkness and was getting closer to the time of inventions and industrialisation, the bigger impact the fashion had on everyday lives. The community people were born into seemed to not be enough. People wanted to differentiate themselves, come out of the routine and join the group with the same ideas and opinions.

Fashion movements were part of the history

Let’s point out a few examples of trends that originated the whole subcultures through history. When hearing the word Middle Ages, many of us recall knights. They were typical for their armour and iron shirt. Add the red cross on the white robe, and everyone would associate you with Knights Templar.

Although, we do not have to go so further into history. The 20th century was a turbulent time of changes. The beginning of the last century meant a fight for women rights to vote. The aim of suffragettes’ work is well known, but what historians usually miss out is their influence on fashion of that time. They needed others to see them properly to introduce their opinions to the public.

“Members are encouraged to wear the colours as a duty and a privilege.” Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, co-editor of Votes for Women

Despite the boring and stereotypical image of suffragettes that their contemporaries presented, they were recommended by their leaders to be as fashionable as possible. One of the features of the movement was the particular colour scheme devised by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence.

Wearing purple, white and green or the striped tricolour ribbons made you belong to the particular community of women. Or at least it was a sign of considering yourself as their supporter.

Clothing showed which side you took

Shall we move a few years forward? Not everyone is lucky to be free to wear anything he wants to work. Besides the dress code that people often tend to not follow nowadays, some professions require the uniform. As long as we can remember, uniforms have always shown off that the person wearing it belongs to a specific community.

The Second World War changed the world in many ways. And we might not like it, but uniforms are a firm part of the war times. The SA or Hitler-Jugend were huge communities which besides other things were typical for their costumes.

The brown shirts, or later black tunics of SS and Nazi uniforms were a symbol of triumph, power, and unfortunately terror and fear. You might be asking, what does this have to do with fashion. But it was Hugo Boss who designed the significant Nazi clothing after all.

New beginning meant new movement

After winning the war, the new youth culture appeared in London. Teddy Boys or Teds had roots in London’s East End and was associated with rock ‘n’ roll. This trend influenced primarily the working class. Belonging to this community meant wearing drape jackets, drainpipe trousers for boys and high-neck shirts with jackets and loose jeans for girls.

Even though Teds became the symbol of hooliganism in 1950′, it is still an inspiration for new fashion collections nowadays, see Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2010 collection for men or Spring/Summer 2011 Ready-To-Wear by Paul Smith.

Fashion makes you belong somewhere

To sum it up, wearing specific clothing or adopting a particular style can demonstrate being part of a community. Whether you are rebelling against the political situation, pointing out climate changes or you just simply associate yourself with a particular music style, fashion is always the answer on the question how to let the others around you know.

Even though, the need to differentiate is not as radical as it might have been in the past, see WWII; we all feel the need to belong somewhere. 2020 made us realise that the community is more important than ever. Without community, we would not be able to overcome past difficult months. This year is a reminder of the importance of standing for each other and being united.

Bigger or smaller groups of people sharing our opinions and ideas are often helping us to keep our head above water and keep going. Fangirling together over the boy band, admiring a celebrity and following his style or being part of an online community around the fashion blog is equal to having a second family.

Don’t you believe that fashion connects and differentiates us? Just try to confront the fan in the Arsenal shirt while wearing a Tottenham shirt, and you will see yourself.

Forming a community with the help of fashion can lead to creating a movement. And these movements may change the world.


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