Fashion has always operated on a trend basis, but what used to be a century or decade-defining style has now become a quick blip in time, gone as quickly as it has surfaced. Chunky clay rings, exposed stitching, that one swirly green “Hockney Dress”… all these internet-born trends which were massive just a few years ago now look like relics of ancient history.
The general rule of thumb is that every decade comes back every 20 years, which explains the Y2K revival that has been happening, one of the more literal comebacks due to our insatiable nostalgia. But with the accelerating speed of trends, it seems as though the timeframe may be cut back to 10 years, with indie sleaze creeping its way back to fight the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic and Dior’s use of galaxy print in its FW23 menswear collection.
A big accelerator within the fashion industry has always been fast fashion, as the name suggests it. Born out of the 90s, fast fashion has the ability to churn out new styles in mass quantities with relatively low pricing, with H&M bringing out new styles every 2 weeks according to Business Insider. While fast fashion has made its mark on the industry within the past 2 or 3 decades, one global event changed its course forever: the pandemic.
Throwback to the days when the world was crumbling down, a pandemic in full force and nations worldwide in shambles but just a few things brought us comfort, namely doom scrolling and online shopping. Left alone to our own devices, the money we saved up by not going out, we spent on clothing, which led to an influx of hauls, trends and looks that have now died out – who really looks like an e-boy anymore?
Isolated at home, we all collectively decided to download TikTok, which received a meteoric rise in popularity. Just like its then under-a-minute long videos that killed our generation’s attention span, fashion trends which were and continue to be fronted by TikTok influencers have to keep up. As social commentary YouTuber Jordan Teresa said “the problems lie in the constant promotion of fast fashion and overconsumption”, rather than lower-income individuals who have no other choice to but to shop at low-cost, fast-fashion companies
Nevermind H&M and Zara, fast fashion has become too slow to keep up with the growing demand of the next best thing. Ultra-fast fashion companies have now taken over the industry, with hashtags like #sheinhaul having over 10 billion views on TikTok. Shein has one-upped its past competitors, by selling products at an even cheaper price and adding more than 6,000 new products daily to their website.
Micro trends go hand-in-hand with overconsumption, the label given the ultra-fast trends that die out within a season or less. Micro trends have led to the death of the era aesthetic – just think of the 2020s that have been going on for only 3 years but have already had countless definable styles and only continue to accelerate by the day. While this can be attributed to a rise in individuality and an increase in small designers and brands, which could not sustain themselves without social media, it’s also important to remember that overconsumption plays a huge part in this phenomenon.
Not only does overconsumption impact the environment tremendously – think of the landfills are disrupting natural habitats filled with garments made out of microplastics and polyester that only last a maximum of 3 wears – it is also dissolving so many brands’ identities, which are desperately trying to keep up with the trend cycle. Think of Blumarine whose latest show saw the brand step away from its glitzy Y2K aesthetic – a smart move for longevity but a crisis for customer retainment.
The thing with trends, which has been even more emphasised with micro-trends, is that as soon as you buy into them, your favourite fashion influencers have already moved on to the next big thing. But with the trend cycle accelerating so rapidly, will trends become redundant? From a consumer’s perspective, we sure hope so.
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