The trend cycle has been a really big conversation lately, and I have my own concerns that I want to add for your consideration. Before we start, we should probably try define the trend cycle. According to Vice, the fashion trend cycle was formerly made up of five stages ranging from introduction to obsolescence which items went through as they came in and out of style. However, recently, the window for a trend has shrunken drastically, from lasting years to some trends now being as short as a few weeks. This is largely due to fast fashion pumping out new items every single day and social media requiring creators to push out content so rapidly that they need to introduce something new every day. But, the diminishing window for trends is concerning to me for several reasons.
The Loss of a Generational Style
Think about any past decade, from the 1950s to the 2010s we all have identifiable fashion trends we associate with an era. But, as we approach the mid-2020s, there hasn’t been a true distinct fashion identity for this time period. This concerns me because clothing, like media, is indicative of the times when we reflect on history, and that aspect of analysis feels as though it will be lost in this era due to the diminishing trend cycle and overreliance on nostalgia. Also, it’s just a fun thing to have that I wish was clearer, if I’m being honest.
Absence of Personal Style
In a similar vein, I feel like there’s been such an overreliance on trends in stores and online, that personal style is losing its value. Having a personal style can save you time and money, and while it doesn’t mean you never try something new, embracing your personal style (and having quality clothing that fits within it) is so important. As stores focus on churning out new things, finding those pieces becomes that much more difficult. Especially if you have the added exclusions that come with size ranges.
The Climate Crisis
Okay, time to get a little serious. The trend cycle is contributing so much to the growing climate crisis, and it has to stop. Retailers like the infamous Shein are releasing approximately 6,000 new styles a DAY, and obviously, all of those are not being sold. So we’re trashing all of that product, plus the clothes honestly feel like they were made to be worn once and then thrown away. So low-quality fabrics that don’t tend to last that long are crowding landfills both from the companies themselves and from us the consumer, it has to stop.
Then there’s the financial aspect. If you do want to be “in style” the time window between purchasing new items is shrinking. You get on TikTok and you’re seeing users spend $100s of dollars spent on fast fashion clothing hauls for items most of the creators may not even wear once. It’s glorifying consumerism, and that’s dangerous territory, especially on social media where the audience is so young.
So Now What?
I’m not saying don’t buy fast fashion, I buy it, it’s what I can afford. I’m also not saying never buy a trend, I’m simply recommending we all become more conscious of our shopping habits and the items we purchase. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do I have more than one place I can wear this item?
- Is there already something in my closet I can pair with this item?
- How long does this item feel like it will last?
- Do I actually see myself wearing this? Or am I following the crowd?
So what do you think about trends and the trend cycle? I’d love to hear your thoughts.