Fashion: Where Did It Come From and Where Is It Heading?

By Ellie Thompson

As my role as Fashion Editor and undergraduate at Swansea University is coming to an end, I’m looking ahead at what I’m going to do once I graduate this summer. This made me think of relating my last article in Waterfront to what will happen to fashion in the future, when I’m no longer writing about it so regularly.

When thinking about fashion and attempting to understand where it is leading, it is important to think about its history and how it has developed. Clothing has been around for as long as humans have been on the earth but the the first designer to have a label sewn into garments like we have today was a man called Charles Frederick Worth who owned The House of Worth which is still around today in a revived form. It specialised in haute couture (custom-fitted clothing) and ready-to-wear clothes that are seen in shops today. Worth was known for preparing several clothing designs for each season which were then displayed by models.

During the 19th century when this was all happening, wealthy women would have four changes of dress a day so would often purchase an entire wardrobe from Worth. Department stores emerged (such as Selfridges, Harrods and Bainbridge’s which is now owned by John Lewis) and around the 20th century fashion magazines began writing about fashion and showcasing photographs of clothes which made fashion and style even more influential.

During the 1920s Coco Chanel became the first designer to create loose women’s jerseys rather than traditional women’s clothing such as long dresses and corsets. These jerseys were conventionally used for men’s underwear which gave them a relaxed feel and comfortable style and they soon became popular with women and the post-war generation to which the corset seemed old-fashioned and impractical. Fast forward to the 1960s and young people’s income was at its highest after World War II, designers like Mary Quant designing clothes that were specifically aimed at young people – one of these items being the mini dress. Skip to the 1980s and fashion was creative and adorned in block colours, high waistlines and bright accessories with the 90s being pretty much the same but more loose-fitting.

So what about the future of fashion? Alexa Chung who has been in the fashion industry since she was aged fifteen and now contributes to British Vogue says: “fashion has the power to create social change and challenge ideas about body image and sexuality. But I feel like the general public don’t take it seriously enough.” In her documentary series about the future of fashion, she explores a talent identification scheme called NEWGEN which was created by the British Fashion Council (yep, they are real) in 1993, which showcases and promotes new designer businesses that we see today. NEWGEN also encompasses menswear and has been doing so since 2009. Sarah Mower, ambassador for emerging talent for the British Fashion Council and chair of the NEWGEN committee states “there is little awareness in schools and in this parental generation that the fashion industry [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][in the UK] is worth £28 billion, even bigger than the automotive industry. When asked about what she hopes the future of fashion will be like she says, “I really hope that designers that have established themselves now will be there in another twenty years as great brands and that they are incredibly important employers of the next two generations.”

With that being said, it seems safe to say that the future of fashion looks promising. It has been an honour to be able to write for Waterfront and be a part of it and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the experience. I hoped you’ve enjoyed reading my articles on fashion and don’t forget if you want to apply for this role then get in touch with the new team. You’ll really enjoy doing it alongside your studies and it’ll look great on your CV as an example of writing experience. My parting words are these: life isn’t perfect but your outfit can be!



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