Why Does Fashion Matter?

By Sharon Mosley

February 26, 2013 5 min read

In the decades that I have been writing about the world of fashion, there is always one question I seem to hear over and over. Why? Why does fashion matter? And since the simplest of answers — we all have to wear clothes — doesn't quite suffice, it does seem that many of us are interested in looking good and, hey, that usually makes us feel better about ourselves and the world around us. As one designer, Tadashi Shoji, put it: "Fashion inspires and brings cultures together. Plus, you can't walk around naked!"

A dear aunt who recently died was always the epitome of style and she always said when she didn't care about how she looked, that's when it was time to go. She lived to be 90 and had a Hermes scarf tied around her neck when she died.

Pantone, the global color authority — you know the one that tells us "Emerald Green" is the color of the year — reached out to its Facebook fans to pose a question to fashion designers: "Why does fashion matter ... and how does it help the world?" There were some interesting answers that I thought I'd share. Here are a few of the designers who responded and their responses:

Tommy Hilfiger — "Fashion helps shape individuality. I have always loved the way styles and trends are interpreted differently all over the world."

Barbara Tfank — "I think of fashion as a sort of gift to the world — people adorning themselves to express their feelings and celebrate occasions; it creates memories and marks time in one's life."

BCBG by Max and Luvov Azria — "Fashion is important because it comes from within. Fashion is all about juxtaposition and coming out of your comfort zone."

Bibhu Mohapatra —"Fashion matters because it is a language and a tool used to express oneself. Self-expression is extremely important, and fashion allows you to do that. Yes, it does help the world in a range of ways — from establishing individual identities to creating jobs!"

Carmen Marc Valvo — "Fashion is part of our everyday lives and it helps people with their personal sense of self and how they project that into the world."

Charlotte Ronson — "Fashion matters. It is about individuality, personal expression and choice. It helps the world by helping each individual person. Once in a while we all have a bad day, and sometimes simply putting on your favorite dress, shoe or even makeup will make you feel happy."

Elie Tahari — "Fashion has the ability to bring people from all diverse walks of life together; it is a tool that allows individuals to be expressive."

NAHM by Alexandria Hilfiger and Nary Mnivong — "Fashion is an outward reflection of yourself to the world — it empowers you."

Nicole Miller — "Because fashion is psychologically uplifting! It creates positive energy!"

Peter Som — "Fashion matters because it's a form of self-expression that provides a moment in the day for one to dream. A little time to dream is OK — the world has enough challenges to keep us busy."

Saunder by Emily Saunder — "Let's be real, fashion will never smooth out the rift between warring factions or find a cure for cancer, but it is still a powerful force in many people's lives. It allows men and women a means to express themselves on a daily basis and is an amazing and accessible creative outlet. Also more and more companies are pushing the boundaries of the kind of impact fashion can have by collaborating with artisans, promoting fair trade and eco-friendly practices and giving more thought to how their garments are made."

Tracy Reese - "Fashion is a reflection of one's self. When you are wearing something that makes you feel comfortable and confident, you can take on the world!"

(SET CAPTION) Designer Nicole Miller creates "positive energy" this spring with her Nicole by Nicole Miller collection at JCP featuring colorful florals in mix and match separates. (www.jcp.com) (END CAPTION)

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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