Style through history: a timeline of Fashion

Yves Saint Laurent 1966 rtw 4 copy

Before the word fashion

Before the word fashion existed, clothes were just useful, were just a means to do something. They had to last, they have to be able to execute that function perfectly. That was the most important thing.

But at the same time, since the ages started, the garments were a symbolic piece of someone’s life. Specially since the Middle Age, the people in power have always used clothes as a symbol of power, as a reflection of who they are, of what they are representing. This symbolic notion starts getting closer to what we call today fashion.

Hand-crafted art pieces

Those special clothes were built like a piece of art, like a building, like a permanent sculpture. And a lot of them have passed the test of time and are nowadays exposed in many museums around the world.

Those historical pieces would correspond to the today’s equivalent of Haute Couture. Artisanal pieces made by hand, on demand and adapted exactly to the client’s measurements and desires.

Fashion is born

Today’s standard was executed perfectly by Charles Worth in the 19th century, who is considered the first couturier. He received clients from all over Europe and was the first to showcase his creations on real models instead of dolls.

However, the industry took a new direction in the early 20th century with the introduction of Prêt-a-porter or Ready-to-wear. Yves Saint Laurent started producing garments in standard sizes starting in 1966, making high fashion possible to a wider audience.

Today’s industry

Today, the prêt-a-porter industry has largely diversified and offers a range of quality options, from luxury to designer brands. However, the sustainability of prêt-a-porter is not without challenges. The primary materials, the chemicals used, and labor conditions all play a role in determining the overall sustainability of these garments. All the brands we are talking about in Paradigme Mode are prêt-a-porter, but not all prêt-a-porter is sustainable.

To determine it, it’s important to look at the materials and the fabrication methods and countries in the product. We will give you more tips about it soon.

And to end, it’s time to take a look at the most recent but also the least sustainable form of fashion: fast fashion. With its big breakout in the 90s with the rise of Zara, its fast-paced production process, which prioritises speed and profit over everything else, has had a significant impact on the environment and human rights. It has accomplished in only 25 years to put the fashion industry as the second most polluting in the world and generated millions of inequalities and waste, among addiction problems in its consumers.

Further reading

Written by David Ferrero Peláez
February 24, 2023

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