History of Clothing

You see them everywhere, when you are walking down the street or when you go to a shopping mall, clothes are an intricate part of our lives. We put a lot of care and thought in what we wear every day, from our shoes down to the hats; they are almost inseparable from us. From the moment we wake up, and until we take a shower, we have them on our bodies. Nowadays, it is reasonable to see a mixture of every kind of style, and almost every person has their style with which they want to make a statement about their character or their personality.

Humans and clothes have a long history, thousands of years to be more exact, where the extreme weather conditions have forced humans to create clothes from different materials. The evidence that the archeologists have found from the figurines dating back thousands of years have shown that humans back then had hats, belts, and cloth that they wrapped around their breast. With the advancement of humans, in general, they started to see clothes differently, since they were not used as protection only, but rather as a form of identity. Every tribe started to have their distinctive way of dressing in order to separate themselves from the other clans.

Ancient Egypt is an excellent example of how things further evolved, the Pharaohs would wear lion or leopard skins as a sign of the status that they had, while the citizens would wear clothes that were much simpler and made from different materials. The division had already started before the current era, and it was normal that the ruling class would pick the most elegant clothes. Moving on to the Roman Empire were the Emperors would always have clothes that only they could wear, and the same was about Senators and people that had wealth and power, in other words, you could learn their social status by their clothes.

Silk Road connected the West and East since 2nd century BCE, and that has had a significant impact in the way we dress since it made the trading of good from Europe to Asia and vice versa possible. That meant that new materials could be traded and that brought innovation to the way people would dress. In the Byzantine Empire’s case, you could see that way fashion had evolved since the Tunica had replaced the famous Roman Toga.

Medieval Europe saw many changes gradually, and that was mostly due to the wars that ravaged the continent and the clothing remained rather simple up until the high middle ages were in the 12th and 13th century the overall quality of the wool and dye improve. Crusaders ravaged the Middle-East, but when they came back to Europe, they brought knowledge of fine textiles. However, the real “fashion” started to emerge in Europe in the 14th century, according to many historians, straight seams and draped garments were replaced by curved seams. When you include the beginning of tailoring that allowed for clothes to fit the human form more closely, and another major thing was the use of buttons and lacing.

As the centuries passed, things started to change slowly, and the pants and shirts that they wore started to resemble more and more the ones that we wear now. In the 18th century, another distinction was made, where the clothes that were worn at Court were different than the everyday clothes. As time passed, there were fewer occasions that required a full dress at the Court, and by the end of the 18th century, they had disappeared completely.

Things changed drastically during the industrial revolution since production changed completely, and everything was produced in mass. In the 20th century, almost everything became available for the average citizen, and more comfortable and stylish clothes started to become the norm. Every decade since the 1920’s up to this day has had a distinctive sense of fashion. We have witnessed how people have started to pay more and more attention to the clothes that we wear and the way that we present ourselves. You can say that a fashion revolution happened during the 20th century, while the economic boom helped it a lot, it was also the invention of the television that gave people new ideas as to what to wear and when to wear it. TV and movie stars started promoting new fashion trends that became more widely accessible to the general public. The beauty industry boomed and French manicures of various designs, as well as pedicures, facials and body hair removal became a mandatory staple of whatever fashion look you wanted to go for. This was the cause of the new industries that are now worth billions and billions of dollars. The fashion industry is approximately worth $2.4 trillion, yes you read that correctly, and it has been going through a steady increase every year, and with the economic development of many African and Asian countries, it is hard to predict how big the market will be.


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