The History of Fashion: From Ancient Textiles to Modern Trends
It’s safe to say that fashion is an indispensable part of human life. Though trends and styles have changed over time, throughout the ages, humans have had some form of clothing to suit the occasion. From peasant clothes and peasant wear to extravagent and exclusive designer garments, throughout history, fashion has evolved and changed drastically. Let’s take a journey through time and explore the history of fashion, from Ancient Textiles to Modern Trends.
Early Clothes and Prehistoric Times
The earliest pieces of clothing were first created between 40,000 and 30,000 BC. Small pieces of animal skin were used to cover specific areas of the body and served as a form of protection from the weather, or for warmth. During Prehistoric times, people were hunters or gatherers and adapted their clothing to the climatic conditions of their environment. People began to utilize animal skins and fur from wildlife as these were easily accessible items, and clothing began to become more recognizable in its style.
Ancient Textiles and Fabrics
As humans began to develop agriculture, fabrics were first woven on simple looms. Flax and wool were the original fibers used in fabric production, and due to the advancement of technology, more complex looms allowed ancient cultures to weave more intricate garments. During this time, the idea of hand weaving and embroidery began to take shape, resulting in ornately decorated fabrics and materials. By 600 B.C. civilizations around the world had begun to create garments consisting of layered panels and in some cases, jewels and precious metals.
The Roman Empire
The fashion and clothing of Ancient Rome was greatly influenced by the Greeks and the Etruscans, who designed fabrics and garments with minute details, much like the modern-day fashions we know and admire today. Romans, who lived in the city, were known for their luxurious and fashionable sense of style. Clothing was draped in various materials and adorned with colorful jewelry, which was mostly a display of social rank and status. The commoners of Rome, who were considered peasants, were allowed to wear whatever simple and rough garments they preferred.
The Middle Ages
The Middle Ages ushered a period of some of the most ornate, intricate, and expensive fashion in all of history. This era was dominated by royalty and the class system, and so the rich and the powerful wore large clothing items and elaborate garments to separate themselves from the rest of the population. In addition, clothing was often heavily decorated with rich fabrics, items of jewelry, and handwork embroidery, to really create a statement.
Victorian and Edwardian Era
The Victorian and Edwardian Era was a time period characterized by an unprecedented amount of change, especially with regards to fashion. During this time, styles began to be more diverse and it no longer required an individual to break the bank in order to wear elegant, fashionable clothes. This era saw the development of more affordable fabrics and materials that could be used to create clothing for the masses. The vast nature of the clothing industry during this era can be attributed to the rise of globalization and the industrial revolution.
From the 1950s Up Until Today
From a fashion standpoint, the 1950s was considered a revolutionary period. This was a period of great changes and innovations in the textile industry, which changed the fashion landscape forever. Technology assisted in the creation of new fabrics and materials, like Spandex and Lycra, which allowed for outfits to become trendier and more comfortable.
The 1960s and ’70s saw the development of the hippie movement, which was characterized by a rejection of traditional fashion norms and the use of bright and loud colors and patterns. This was followed in the 1980s by the introduction of pop culture, which changed the fashion industry drastically. Popular clothing items represented the era of wealth and the status quo, complete with shoulder pads and vibrant prints.
The 1990s and 2000s saw the development of another fashion revolution. Streetwear became incredibly popular, made possible by brands like Nike and Adidas, who produced clothing that could be paired with almost any outfit. The beginning of this century saw the rise of vintage fashion, as well as the wave of athleisurewear.
In modern times, fashion is discussed more because of its self-expression and cultural significance, rather than merely being a source of protection from the elements or an exultation of wealth. The last decade has seen an incredible amount of growth in the fashion industry, with the introduction of ethical labelling and sustainability in fashion, as well as a greater emphasis on practical items such as athleisurewear.
In addition, the Renaissance of Dreams has had a major influence in modern fashion. Through the increased accessibility of digital media and the rise of social media influencers, fashion no longer has to be traditional or conforming – it can be anything people want it to be. It can be bright and loud, or it can be conceptually subtle. It can conform to the standards of a certain era, or it can be completely unique and personalized.
The history of fashion is an ever-evolving tale. Since the dawn of mankind, clothing has been a form of expression and protection, and has been modified to suit the needs of the era. From the Ancient Textiles to the Modern Trends of today, fashion has changed drastically and has become a part of everyday life. This history has provided the foundation for trends of the future. Who knows what the next fashion innovation will bring?