Wayne Shulick Examines How the Fashion Industry Influences Culture & Society

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On the surface, it may seem like fashion’s impact on society is nothing more than superficial. But in reality, the fashion industry is deeply intertwined with culture and society, to the point that it has the power to influence it. Most people are aware that fashion often represents the zeitgeist of the time. Whether it be a popular political movement or a new form of technology, there is no denying that culture and society impact our sartorial choices. However, what people may never have considered is that conversely, the industry also can change society. Wayne Shulick is an entrepreneur located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Shulick has a long history of business creation and development in numerous sectors. Over the years, he has worked as a consultant, owner, and founder in the clothing, design, and nightlife industries. 

The Fashion Industry Offers Exposure to Foreign Cultures

The fashion industry has a unique ability to expose societies to foreign cultures. “Fashion is not confined to geographic borders,” shares Wayne Shulick. That is why, for decades, you have seen couture runway collections that take inspiration from all over the world. Whether it be a motif from an African tribe or the neckline of the Chinese cheongsam or qipao, the clothes that you wear on the street often borrow from other cultures. The result of this, though you may not even be aware of it, is exposure to the cultures of different countries. Even in some of the least diverse cities in North America, you will find these foreign fashion influences. In turn, this gives people a greater understanding of, and possibly even a new appreciation of cultures that they may never have encountered otherwise. 

Wayne Shulick provides a few key examples of popular trends within the fashion industry that have exposed society to other cultures. The first is body piercings. Fashion designers, influencers, and more have recently made body piercings trendy again. And where did this practice originate? Africa. The history of body piercings can be traced back throughout many African tribes, where it is an integral part of folklore. 

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The next example is bohemian style clothing and accessories. The Olsen twins made boho trendy over a decade ago, and it has remained so to this day. But what you may never have realized is that those bell sleeves, flared jeans, oversized tunics, and fringe trims did not merely come into being when celebrities started wearing them. Instead, they are embedded in the culture of the Romani people. It was about the Roma gypsies that the word bohemian was first used. 

One final example of how the fashion industry provides exposure to foreign cultures is through their usage of bold, bright colors, a fashion statement that originated in India. Indian clothing is known for its vivid and playful colors, and it is due to these influences from India that you now see such amazing colors and designs in clothing items all over the world. Ultimately, through its incorporation of foreign cultures, fashion has transcended borders and brought aspects of other, often faraway cultures into mainstream society.

Fashion Girl
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The Fashion Industry Promotes Self-Expression

According to Wayne Shulick, the second way that the fashion industry influences culture and society is through self-expression. You would be hard-pressed to find a person that disagrees with the notion that fashion, as with all types of art, is a form of self-expression. Every sartorial decision a person makes, whether it be to slip on a pair of sweatpants or wear a white gown on their wedding day, represents who they are. For example, choosing to shy away from trends or fads in fashion actively is a choice and an expression of your beliefs. Just as wearing a t-shirt supporting a presidential candidate or a pair of jeans made from recycled materials speaks to your ideas.

No matter what you choose to dress yourself in, it says something about who you are as a person. This notion is truly impossible to escape, but going beyond that, what you wear can be a driving force for a change, as much as it reflects your beliefs. For example, someone who chooses to support a charity by wearing a t-shirt with that charity’s logo on it might be inspired to take their humanitarianism a step further. They may be emboldened by the logo on their t-shirt to donate money to a charitable cause, or perhaps to volunteer in their community. In line with this, the fashion industry has the ability to influence the mood and emotions of people in society. Wearing certain pieces of clothing can make someone feel more confident and powerful in their everyday lives, which can have a significant impact on that person’s mental health, but also on their productivity in society. 

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