Even though the terms fashion, clothing and costume are often used together, fashion differs from both. Clothing describes the material and the technical garment, devoid of any social meaning or connections; costume has come to mean fancy dress or masquerade wear. Fashion, by contrast, describes the social and temporal system that influences and “activates” dress as a social signifier in a certain time and context. Philosopher Giorgio Agamben connects fashion to the qualitative Ancient Greek concept of kairos, meaning “the right, critical, or opportune moment”
The French word meaning “fashion”, dates as far back as 1482, while the English word denoting something “in style” dates only to the 16th century.