The Life Cycle of Fashion Trends

Fashion is a way for individuals to express themselves authentically while contributing to the broader cultural conversation. It is a highly influential and rapidly evolving industry that has the power to shape trends and influence culture.

Fashion has the potential to be positive for society when it promotes sustainability and ethical production. However, fashion can also negatively impact the environment and society when it is driven by consumerism and superficial trends.

Throughout history, changes in culture, technology, economic and social conditions have been reflected in the clothes we wear. These changes are sometimes accelerated by the fashion industry itself and are often driven by consumer demand.

For example, a fashion trend can be set by the emergence of a new film star or music artist with a unique look that inspires others to imitate that look. This is often called the ‘fashion wave’. This is not limited to clothing as trends can be set by hairstyles, accessories, shoes and even jewellery.

The origins of a trend are often hard to trace. For instance, it is not clear how the short skirts and boots worn by teenagers in England became the fashion of Paris runway models or how baggy jeans made it to the hip-hop scene of the Bronx. This is because popular styles are not driven by an insular fashion elite but are more a reaction to events and movements in culture, music, art and literature.

Fashion trends are influenced by designers, fashion journalists, media and celebrities. Designers create their collections by taking inspiration from the past, present and future. They also use trend forecasting agencies to develop ideas of what will be in style in the future. In addition, they take into consideration institutions like Pantone who research and study colors to help predict the color of the year.

Once a style has been introduced, it then goes through a period of being on the runway and being featured in magazines, and finally, it makes its way into the stores. Once it is no longer as popular, it is then considered out of fashion and will be found in the clearance section. The life cycle of a trend typically lasts 5 years.

One of the most positive aspects of fashion is that it can bring people together. It is a way for people to communicate their personality through the clothes they choose to wear and it can make people feel included in a group or community. For example, the London College of Fashion curator Alison Moloney tapped into this idea with her exhibition ‘Cabinet Stories’ which toured a women’s prison, a mental health unit and care home for the elderly. Each individual selected clothes that meant something to them and these became part of the exhibit. This showed how clothes can bring comfort, warmth and a sense of belonging. Furthermore, it is a great way to break down barriers between different communities.