More than Skin Deep: Fashion as a Business of Art

Fashion is the product of an equation. Fashion is only reached when it is produced by both elements of style and the fashion industry. While style is the expression of the self, the fashion industry is the force that commercializes that style. A style that starts attracting the attention of various people is one that has the propensity to be a money maker. When a style is appropriated by the fashion industry, it hits the runway and the streets, which forms what we know to be called trends.

When put together, the careful combination of colors, resonance of textures and continuity of patterns create pieces of art—similar to paint strokes on a canvas. Fashion is a moving piece of art. Everyday people becoming moving canvases, showing all those that pass them what they have created.

Via Flavorwire
Via Flavorwire

The question that arises is whether the booming business of fashion rids the art of this spirit and energy. Some would assert that since fashion is largely motivated by economics, it becomes inherently superficial while others say that it maintains its artistic spirit. However, this dichotomy is not mutually exclusive. In a society motivated by the crunch of dollar bills and jingling of quarters and dimes, such as ours, an art form cannot exist without a corresponding business sector. In a world so inundated with the imperative to make money, is fashion just the product of superficial style that has the propensity to make money? Does fashion exist to produce something visually appealing, or does it maintain the multi-dimensional emotional and spiritual aspects of fine art?

The end product of fashion is far from a superficial expression. The work that goes into making fashion serves various purposes including true self-expression. Certain colors and patterns can replicate specific feelings and emotions. However, it goes even further by making a political and social impact. Take, for example, the boost of women’s status in society and how it  was accompanied, and perhaps even propelled, by the raising of the typical hemline and the application of rouge. Short hairstyles and form-fitting, scandalous clothing became expressions of the lowering of strict moral standards and the demolition of unrealistic conservative values for women.

The appropriation of style by the industry is what completes the equation, thus, creating fashion. It is only when a certain style is marketed to masses of people that it creates an impact. When speaking about the jazz era, the counterculture revolution or the the grunge era, the discussion of each period’s idiosyncratic styles arises—the styles which have come to represent the values and ideals of the people at the time, the emotions and strife of the people at the time that ultimately define the population as a whole.

The art, style, and the business sectors of the fashion industry cannot exist without one another, and all parts help to foster fashion as an expression of the self—an undeniably important cultural aspect of society.

 

Kavish Harjai is a news editor. Email him at kharjai@nyunews.com.

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