The Evolution Of Fashion

July 15, 2022

When you hear the word fashion, what comes to your mind, clothes right? Yes, you are not entirely wrong if that’s what you think. But there’s much more to the word fashion than just clothes; there are a lot of things that can be referred to when we use the word, fashion. What do you know about Fashion?

What and who influences Fashion? Do you know what the Fashion trend was in the 70s, 80s, and 90s till the 2000s? A lot of younger people might have seen music or pictures of what people looked like back in the 70’s and might have actually dressed like that during Halloween and events in school or other places. The fashion of 90’s largely determined what the dressing of today looks like and fashion of today will determine what fashion in the future will look like. In an article on 9ja News today, our beliefs and cultures play a huge role in the way we dress.

I will take you down memory lane and unravel some of the fashionable wears back in the days, and also what has influenced Fashion so far, but before then let’s define Fashion.

The internet encyclopedia defines fashion as, “a famous style or practice particularly in dress, footwear, frill, cosmetics, body piercing or furniture. Design is likewise a particular and frequently ongoing pattern in the style in which an individual dresses.” Now that you know what Fashion is, I urge you to journey with me on this fashion ride as I unveil fashion trends from the late 20th century till date. One could say that fashion was usually louder back in the 80s and 90s and were a form of statement-making or protest. Fashion in the 2000s became more toned down and the world evolved.

Cast your minds back to as late as the 1970’s when you could possibly tell a tribe from a person’s outfit. Then culture and tribal marks were a major representation of what was fashionable. Our styles were greatly influenced by our socio-ethnic backgrounds. For instance, should you come across a person from Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Kalabari, Efik ethnicity etc, you could define him from his unique appearance based on what he may be wearing and facial marks. Tribal chiefs usually dress more pompous their subjects and their dressing usually signifies the power they hold in the community. The special type of jewelries they were are usually made of rare earth materials and they are specially molded for the chieftaincies only.

Today the story is no longer the same as our cultural heritage and uniqueness mostly no longer holds, rather the order has been reversed. Fashion of today has changed more than ever with the popularity of picture and video sharing on social media and other mediums. Fashion today has less clothing and includes more body accessories such as rings, ear piercings and body artworks. Tattoos were relatively not popular back in the 70s and 90s but now, more than 70 percent of people around that world have some sort of body art. Fashion is not constant as it change with time, event, weather, place and occasion. The fashion industry is anything but constant and this has been seen through the years.

One of the major influences on fashion so far comes from the music industry. The music industry has influenced fashion so much that people tend to copy almost everything an artiste puts on irrespective of the event, from their hairstyle and even body piercing.

In the 70s and early 80s James Brown, a popular American singer was one artiste that had great influence on the fashion industry in his time. A popular fashion in vogue then was his Bongo trouser, tightly fitted shirt with flair hands which he wore with his high heeled shoes and his afro hairstyle. It immediately became a trend for the men. Almost all the men you come across then were crazy about that fashion, even the female folks were not left out.

Then we had the reign of our legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who always wore his skinny, well-tailored attire. He brings skin-tight quickly to mind; he would not miss his tight pants and often tucked in his half buttoned shirt which he would take off in the heat of his performance. He always had a clean-shaven face, matching accessories and little afro haircut. Needless to say many peoples shirt were half buttoned and skin-tight was the fashion trend of Fela’s era, for ladies it was skinny clothes all the way- Fela’s effect! Later on, we experienced the days of over- sized fashion outfits; baggy jeans and big shirts synonymous with the days of Rap Mu- sic which also included Timberland Boots and baseball cap. This swept off a good number of youth, who could be easily noticed everywhere on the streets.

Today our usual ankara materials which were usually tied around our waist is now being tailored into different styles and patterns. You can make a complete suit with our ankara materials (local fabrics), you can also wear our Woko, Safari on jeans with a pair of chains, Senators, Etibo, Don and many others. There is now a huge cross-cultural diffusion in our fashion space; you could tag it “cultural mix”. What matters now is style irrespective of the tribe your dressing portrays. Sometime ago, Wizkid came up with the wearing hats on casual outfit with trousers tightly fitted around the ankle. Immediately, virtually every young person at that time appeared like him.

Truly, fashion trends in recent time is going into ‘retro’; bringing back what the oldies wore with a mark of civilization. Who knows, tomorrow you might just be dressed in your grandma’s style. So when next you see a fashion trend, trace it backwards to its origin, you will discover that it became popular after it was worn by a popular music artiste. that’s how the music industry and the artistes have and continue to be a major fashion influence especially on young people.


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