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Theories of Fashion Adoption

Fashion moves from one person to the other. Therefore, to study fashion adoption one must know those people who are the first to adopt a fashion.

Fashion moves from one person to the other. Therefore, to study fashion adoption one must know those people who are the first to adopt a fashion. These people are fashion leaders. Fashion theories indicate the process of fashion ideas. The theories explain the fashion trend. It also tells about how fashion moves from one stage to another stage. The following theories of fashion adoption explain the different ways in which fashion knowledge & adoption moves from one person to the other. 

The theories of fashion adoption are:

  1. The Trickle-Down or Downward Flow Theory
  2. Horizontal Flow Theory or The Trickle Across
  3. The Trickle Up or Upward Flow Theory

The Trickle-Down or Downward Flow Theory:

Trickle Down is the oldest theory of fashion adoption. Higher class people who are up in the social pyramid maintain this theory. They are the first to adopt any style before it becomes a fashion. While people of lower social classes who tend to copy the fashion trends follow the higher classes. In this way, the acceptance of style moves in a downward flow. 

This theory is based on the belief that the lower classes look up to the higher classes for inspiration. On the other hand, the higher classes tend to disassociate from the styles which have moved to lower levels. Therefore, the hunt for something new by the high- class consumers starts. The economics of the fashion industry support this theory. This is because each new fashion is introduced at a high- class level as expensive merchandise, with only the affluent class possessing the money to indulge it. The new introduce styles are expensive to cover the experimentation costs. With the style becoming popular, its copies are introduced in the market at a lower price. Then the upper class moves on to try something new. 

The Trickle Across or Horizontal Flow Theory: 

According to this theory there exist social groups in each class of society that have their fashion leaders & followers. The fashion movies horizontally in these in these social groups. This theory emerged due to the fast-changing face of communication. As well as the production industries are making fashion available to everyone at some time for easy adoption. Therefore, fashion leaders for all social groups tend to adopt fashion at the same time. While fashion is adopted by every group in society but this adoption is dependent on the fashion requirement of an individual.

The Trickle Up or Upward Flow Theory:

Trickle up theory is explained by the fashion adoption process, which became prevalent in the 1960s & 1970s. According to this theory, the youngster of the low-income groups is the one to try out some daring styles. As their social position doesn't restrict their behavior. Once these groups have adopted fashion, to can move to the middle class, who are more concerned about their social position. 

The above-explained theories of fashion adoption have one thing in common that they recognize the existence of fashion leaders & followers. 

There is a very small percentage of fashion leaders in society. They are not the creator of fashion, because of them the style gets popularity. They are the ones who discover & wear new styles. These people are responsible for the introduction of new styles. 

Fashion leaders are also known as fashion innovators, which is the first person to try out new designs. Fashion leaders are quite famous & grab the attention of the media. The general public looks up to them for inspiration. People especially fashion followers keenly observe their fashion leaders & imitate their dressing style. On the other hand, people who follow or imitate these fashion leaders are their fashion followers. Most of the people in society belong to this group. They are responsible for the existence of fashion industries. Mass-production & distribution is possible only when a large number of consumers adopt a fashion. There are various reasons for people to become fashion followers rather than leaders. It may be because they feel insecure about trying something new, or they admire a famous personality. Or they simply lack interest & time to be a fashion leader. 

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