Fashion is a communication system. But what is communication? It refers to the set of linguistic and paralinguistic signs used to send information to other individuals, making them experience emotions and feelings.

Communicating is a process that allows a number of people to share certain knowledge. To achieve this goal, communication uses a series of conventionallyaccepted signs; it uses codes in order to faithfully transmit messages; broadly speaking, communication is a game with a number of players and rules to follow.

To communicate (from the Latin cum = with, and munire = to bind, build and communico = to pool, to share) however, is not synonymous with to inform, but rather to relate with other subjects. Information is, in fact, simply an objective and neutral transmission of data, with no subjective or emotional implication or connotation. In other words, it is non-human. Pure “information” is viable only between machines, for instance, computers sending themselves data. Impossible for human beings.

Biologically speaking, objectivity is alien to human beings. It would be an aberration of our human nature. Even with the best of intentions, or with the most impartial of minds, a human being would inevitably be influenced in the transmission of a message by his own approach to the world, a “modus” not necessarily driven by partisanship, but merely (and subconsciously) by cultural background and personal attitude.

Hence, human beings cannot but communicate in order to relate with others, or transmit information “dressed up” with emotions, feelings, beliefs, and by ingrained and subconscious cultural patterns. Communication is a bridge connecting human beings to each other. There are various categories of people who specialize in the use of this particular aspect by learning the techniques for using communication effectively in order to obtain certain results from their kind.

These results must generate particular moods, instigating the receivers to perform certain actions or to take certain decisions. The signs used in the communication process become tools for the Sender to transmit his message to the Receiver, involving him and instigating him to act according to the Sender’s intentions. The communication flow between Sender and Receiver is divided into three coherent, coordinated and sequential steps:

transmission of the message
stimulation of interest in the Receiver
instigation to perform certain actions.

This is where Fashion and its signs - clothes - come into play. The noun abito (dress in English) comes from the Latin habitus and may mean from mode of life and behaviour to disposition. The word abito implies the derived-related word habit associated in turn with character. Dress, therefore, besides its primary role of coverage and protection of the human body, also has the secondary, yet essential function of showing who we are. Clothes are a way of expressing ourselves, of conveying certain meanings.

As Umberto Eco sustained in his reflections on dress codes at the start of the Seventies: “a girl wearing a miniskirt in Catania is considered provocative, in Milan she’s considered modern, in Paris she's simply a girl, and in Hamburg she could be a he”.

Dress is an instrument of communication that helps us display our identity in order for it to fit in the context we live in. It follows that the balanced relationship between the manifestation of our identity and harmony with the context/society we live in, generates the communicational effectiveness of dress. Clothes, accessories and body ornaments are a means of communication. They are signs organized in codes that generate their own language and create a visual text. A point worth remembering is that Fashion is constant semiosis, that is, signification, production of signs.
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