Additionally, there is a long history of fashion in West Africa. Cloth was used as a form of currency in trade with the Portuguese and Dutch as early as the 16th Century. Locally produced cloth and cheaper European imports were assembled into new styles to accommodate the growing elite class of West Africans and resident gold and slave traders. There was an especially strong tradition of cloth-weaving in Oyo and the areas inhabited by the Igbo people.
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The pace of change accelerated considerably in the following century, and women and men's fashion, especially in the dressing and adorning of the hair, became equally complex. Art historians are therefore able to use fashion with confidence and precision to date images, often to within five years, particularly in the case of images from the 15th century. Initially, changes in fashion led to a fragmentation across the upper classes of Europe of what had previously been a very similar style of dressing and the subsequent development of distinctive national styles. These national styles remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th to 18th centuries imposed similar styles once again, mostly originating from Ancien Régime France. Though the rich usually led fashion, the increasing affluence of early modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even peasants following trends at a distance, but still uncomfortably close for the elites – a factor that Fernand Braudel regards as one of the main motors of changing fashion.
Anthropology, the study of culture and human societies, studies fashion by asking why certain styles are deemed socially appropriate and others are not. A certain way is chosen and that becomes the fashion as defined by a certain people as a whole, so if a particular style has a meaning in an already occurring set of beliefs that style will become fashion. According to Ted Polhemus and Lynn Procter, fashion can be described as adornment, of which there are two types: fashion and anti-fashion. Through the capitalization and commoditisation of clothing, accessories, and shoes, etc., what once constituted anti-fashion becomes part of fashion as the lines between fashion and anti-fashion are blurred.
Today, people in rich countries are linked to people in poor countries through the commoditization and consumption of what is called fashion. People work long hours in one area of the globe to produce things that people in another part of the globe are anxious to consume. An example of this is the chain of production and consumption of Nike shoes, which are produced in Taiwan and then purchased in North America. At the production end, there is nation-building a hard working ideology that leads people to produce and entices people to consume with a vast amount of goods for the offering[clarification needed]. Commodities are no longer just utilitarian but are fashionable, be they running shoes or sweat suits.
^ Park, Jennifer. "Unisex Clothing". Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Ed. Valerie Steele. Vol. 3. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005. 382–384. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3427500609&v=2.1&u=fitsuny&it=r&p=GVRL.xlit.artemisfit&sw=w&asid=6f171eb2ab8928b007d0495eb681099c
Modern Westerners have a wide number of choices available in the selection of their clothes. What a person chooses to wear can reflect his or her personality or interests. When people who have high cultural status start to wear new or different clothes, a fashion trend may start. People who like or respect these people become influenced by their personal style and begin wearing similarly styled clothes. Fashions may vary considerably within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation, and geography and may also vary over time. If an older person dresses according to the fashion young people use, he or she may look ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people. The terms fashionista and fashion victim refer to someone who slavishly follows current fashions.
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SYNONYMY NOTE: fashion is the prevailing custom in dress, manners, speech, etc. of a particular place or time, esp. as established by the dominant section of society or the leaders in the fields of art, literature, etc.; , style, often a close synonym for , fashion, in discriminating use suggests a distinctive fashion, esp. the way of dressing, living, etc. that distinguishes persons with money and taste; , mode, the French word expressing this idea, suggests the height of fashion in dress, behavior, etc. at any particular time; , vogue stresses the general acceptance or great popularity of a certain fashion; , fad stresses the impulsive enthusiasm with which a fashion is taken up for a short time; , rage, craze both stress an intense, sometimes irrational enthusiasm for a passing fashion