Money-piece hair, Emma Chamberlain nails, low rise jeans, chunky clay rings, checkerboard prints— no, we’re not just naming cute fashion moments here… Sorry to break it to you, but these are all actually outdated fashion trends according to a simple internet search.
Now, get with the program baby! As of now, we’ve moved on to linen fabrics, saturated colors and knit dresses, but by the time you read this article the trend cycle will surely have moved on. And if you’re even slightly surprised, don’t be! This is just the crazy rate fashion is moving at right now. Is it all too fast?
The Flawed Nature of Fashion Trends
Trends are said to be rooted in the tortuous relationship between nostalgia and anticipation. That’s why the next major trends can be predicted by following the 20-year trend cycle.
The 20-year cycle also known as the 20-year rule is the concept that in a period of 20 years, the trends that were popular before will resurface again. But now, the trend cycle is being cut shorter and shorter and the concept of the 20-year cycle seems to be becoming less and less reliable as a way of navigating the ever-changing and unpredictable trends being thrown our way.
Even the term trend itself has changed over the years. It’s not a certain style or piece that will circulate for a few years anymore, now it’s become a ”dirty word“ in fashion— just an item that‘s gained clout on social media and will phase out in no time.
How trends have changed
If we turn back the dials and take a deep dive into the world of fashion, before tiktok was a thing and before fashion was being consumed at such crazy rates on social media. You’ll find that it was the luxury brands and big industry names who determined what was fashionable and trendy.
People had to pay close attention to runways and new collections or even celebrities to know what the next trend was. At this time, the general public’s access to this information was somewhat limited and it took ages for these trends to actually become accessible to them and just as long for them to die down.
Now if we fast forward to our current situation, trends are no longer controlled and gatekept by the elite few. Through the power of social media and the average influencer, the business of setting trends lies in their hands now. Those influencers may get their inspiration from even bigger celebrities or pop culture movements but they still individualize trends and build them around their personal brands in a way that makes it seem more achievable to you and I.
Are we moving too fast?
The answer is yes! Trend cycles are moving so fast that we not only have to keep up with trends, but even micro-trends as well. These days, themes and collections aren’t trending, but rather singular items and small, obscure pieces are taken from bigger themes.
And because singular pieces trend, the themes are rushed through the trend cycle, and end up lasting a mere 3-6 months instead of years.
Even when we ask ourselves why a certain piece is trending, we will see that fashion is losing its meaning and ties to themes. These days things trend because they were seen in a 15 second video that used a viral TikTok sound.
And that’s where the problem with micro-trends lies. They contribute to over saturation and overconsumption of a singular item. Micro-trends make people feel that if they don’t buy something immediately, they will be left behind as trends move on. And it’s that “right now“ way of thinking that leads to fast fashion. A.K.A the most destructive thing to ever happen to the fashion industry.
The Role of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion lives off of the rapidly changing micro trends. They mass produce trends for cheap as soon as they hit and prey on people‘s desire to fit in.
The trend cycle used to give producers enough time to milk out fashion trends and spare time to create new ones. But with the constant acceleration of trends we see today, fast fashion seems necessary in order to keep up.
Meanwhile, the insane production time of fast fashion is creating a horrible amount of waste. In order to mass produce, companies use cheaper, synthetic materials without realizing that they take decades to biodegrade. And as the trends move on, the clothes themselves are wasted, creating pollution.
How to save yourself the stress and the money
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in style. Its when you become so tied to current trends that you contribute to the destruction of the environment. As well as the destruction of your own sense of self. That’s when following trends becomes a problem.
The main way to avoid it is to realize the importance of your own individual sense of style. Don’t be afraid to carve out your own space and identity when it comes to fashion! You can always pick up on a trend here and there to accentuate your unique style. But don‘t let it revolve around a micro-trend that won‘t last long enough for you to wear the same piece in a month‘s time.
Build the foundation of your wardrobe with long lasting and classic items that will take years to sift through the cycle and let the micro-trends be background noise. You don‘t have to spend all your time trying to figure out what‘s trending and what to avoid. However, be aware of certain items that have no long term value.