Fashion is a form of imitation and so of social equalization, but, paradoxically, in changing incessantly, it differentiates one time from another and one social stratum from another. It unites those of a social class and segregates them from others. The elite initiates a fashion and, when the mass imitates it in an effort to obliterate the external distinctions of class, abandons it for a newer mode – a process that quickens with the increase of wealth.
Fashion does not exist in tribal and classless societies. It concerns externals and superficialities where irrationality does no harm. It signalizes the lack of personal freedom; hence it characterizes the female and the middle class, whose increased social freedom is matched by intense individual subjugation. Some forms are intrinsically more suited to the modifications of fashion than others: the internal unity of the forms called “classic” makes them immune to change.