What is identity? Can one express his identity with the help of fashion? Why is fashion important? Identity has always been important for the humanity. Everyone has always wanted to be original or at least to belong to the original social group. The most favorite tool of emphasizing one’s identity is clothes. Every nation has it is own transitional garments, which differentiate its people from other countries. Of course, fashion is something more than traditional garments. It contains a significant number of additional elements.
I would like to start my observation of the problem of fashion and identity from the side of history and ethnography. Everybody knows that every country has its original traditional clothes. It was important to emphasize the originality of your nation with the help of language, traditions, customs, rituals, and clothes. When you wanted to belong to the definite social group or ethnos, you had to share their values. People used to wear similar clothes, which had a similar style, color, and ornaments. For example, it was easy to differentiate a German from a Frenchman. Ethical identity was essential for the survival of every country. With the run of time, the importance of traditional clothes reduced.
Different countries cooperated with one another and their relations became more practical. Therefore, people began to wear more or less similar clothes in Europe and the USA. Nowadays, ethnical identity is hardly expressed with the help of clothes.
I should say that modern fashion is aimed at the maintenance of the originality of the personal identity. I believe that everyone wants to differ from the people around. It is easy to look originally with the help of clothes, haircut and personal style in the whole. It is interesting that fashion is a very dynamic and unpredictable phenomenon. Furthermore, this phenomenon has its particular cycle. For example, modern, stylish male haircuts resemble the hairs of the first part of the 20th century. Very soon, they will become out-of-date. There will be another trend, which will be accepted by the public. Probably, in twenty years, these haircuts will be fashionable again. To my mind, the major trends of fashion always repeat.
Fashion helps one emphasize his lifestyle, political and social position. Everybody knows about the existence of official, business, casual, adolescent styles and the styles of various subcultures. It is hard to imagine a politician who wears jeans and hoody for international political meetings. At the same time, you will not put on a suit when you go to a baseball match. In my opinion, every type of clothes has its definite place and time. At the same time, there are several elements, which can emphasize one’s style in any situation.
When we speak about subcultures, we should say that it is easy to differentiate them according to their clothes and haircuts. The fans of rap culture prefer wearing loose clothes improving their style with numerous accessories, like imitation jewelry. The fans of hard rock and heavy metal are known to wear long hair, sneakers, black leather jackets, etc. Naturally, the representatives of different subcultures try to emphasize their identity with the help of clothes.
Very often, they are ‘at war’ with the representatives of other subcultures. In this case, fashion plays the role of the tool, which creates the identity of the entire social group of the young people.
Nowadays, fashion and identity are closely connected with each other. Modern people try to emphasize their originality with the help of a new blouse, pair of jeans or haircut. This behavior is logical because appearance is crucial today. On the other hand, fashion is money. Every designer is a businessman who creates new trends to sell his products. Many people understand that they should maintain their identity with the help of education, interests, hobbies, and self-development but not just new clothes.