Each society estimates what class of individuals (attire, abilities, skin color, accent, temperament, etc.) it praises and what class it condemns. And each group in each society does the same to distinguish itself from the rest of the group and strengthen the group itself .
Fashions exist, in short, because we are tribal. People want to differentiate themselves from others, but at the same time they want to be like others, to belong to the group, not to be excluded .
Identical clothing and alternate versions
Fashion serves to distinguish them from others (They), but also to identify ourselves with others, ours (Us). This has led to a kind of arms escalation about consuming what others consume, but without showing that it is the same.
For example, the alternative or indie versions that big brands have marketed, aimed at citizens who do not want to comply with the demands of big fashions, as Naomi Klein refers to in her book No Logo :
Many companies weren’t surprised by the change and created brands with a fake indie, such as Moonlight Tobacco’s Politix cigarettes (courtesy of Philip Morris), the Army leftover knockoff brand Old Navy (The Gap), and OK Cola ( Coca Cola). In an attempt to capitalize on the indie marketing craze, even Coca-Cola, Earth’s best-known brand, tried to hide. Fearing that it was too classic for brand-minded teens, the company launched a campaign in Wisconsin declaring Coca-Cola an "Unofficial State Drink." The campaign consisted of radio spots that were supposed to be broadcast by a pirate station called EKOC, which is Coke backwards.
John Carl Flügel , a British experimental psychologist of the early 20th century, inventoried attitudes towards attire in his Psychology of Suits : the rebellious guy, a prisoner of his suit; the resigned type, who is the majority, who wears without considering why he does it; the rotten type, who feels thus protected from other people’s glances; and a long list. Because clothing is a powerful tool for identification and differentiation , this is how we unconsciously perceive it, and in no case a form of manipulation or awareness of what we are transmitting to others.
For that reason, a woman who hates being judged on her physique continues to wear dresses that are physically flattering; and a man who wants his intrinsic merits to be recognized continues to wear a suit and tie. As Margarita Rivière explains in Lo cheesy and the power of fashion :
Cardin, for example, came up with a new formula for the rapid manufacture of dresses using a chemical that was put into a mold. His investigation was quickly discarded: it could have ended the textile industry, who wanted that?
Fashions reach all areas of our life, even in the way we speak or think. A singular but surely false example is explained by Richard Dawkins in The Ancestor’s Tale: A Journey to the Dawn of Evolution : «the legend (probably false) that the lisp of the Spaniard arose because it became fashionable to imitate the defect of diction of a much admired courtier or, according to another version, of a king of the house of the Habsburgs or of an infanta ».
This is the power of fashion . Fashion does not exist because it has been invented by someone to convince us of something. It exists because we are who we are. It has always existed. It will always exist. And there is no one behind the wheel, as you can see in the following video: fashions arise from spontaneous interactions between people and groups :