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.

Early Western travelers, traveling whether to India, Persia, Turkey or China, would frequently remark on the absence of change in fashion in those countries. The Japanese shōgun's secretary bragged (not completely accurately) to a Spanish visitor in 1609 that Japanese clothing had not changed in over a thousand years.[6] However, there is considerable evidence in Ming China of rapidly changing fashions in Chinese clothing.[7] Changes in costume often took place at times of economic or social change, as occurred in ancient Rome and the medieval Caliphate, followed by a long period without major changes. In 8th-century Moorish Spain, the musician Ziryab introduced to Córdoba[8][unreliable source][9] sophisticated clothing-styles based on seasonal and daily fashions from his native Baghdad, modified by his own inspiration. Similar changes in fashion occurred in the 11th century in the Middle East following the arrival of the Turks, who introduced clothing styles from Central Asia and the Far East.[10]


Often consumers need to be told what they want. Fashion companies have to do their research to ensure they know their customers' needs before developing solutions. Steve Jobs said, "You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it".[47]
In the fashion industry, intellectual property is not enforced as it is within the film industry and music industry. Robert Glariston, an intellectual property expert, mentioned in a fashion seminar held in LA[which?] that "Copyright law regarding clothing is a current hot-button issue in the industry. We often have to draw the line between designers being inspired by a design and those outright stealing it in different places."[69] To take inspiration from others' designs contributes to the fashion industry's ability to establish clothing trends. For the past few years, WGSN has been a dominant source of fashion news and forecasts in encouraging fashion brands worldwide to be inspired by one another. Enticing consumers to buy clothing by establishing new trends is, some have argued, a key component of the industry's success. Intellectual property rules that interfere with this process of trend-making would, in this view, be counter-productive. On the other hand, it is often argued that the blatant theft of new ideas, unique designs, and design details by larger companies is what often contributes to the failure of many smaller or independent design companies.
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
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