Fashion trends are magical and intangible things that seem to come from nowhere, overtake us all for a season or two, and then disappear as suddenly, as they came. But is it actually so, and if yes; how do fashion trends evolve?
As can be observed, it’s true that most trends only last for a limited amount of time (also named FADs), but they actually come from somewhere. If you learn to see the patterns, you will be able to code what will be the next trend, as well as dictating the trends, if you work for the very powerful or trendsetting brands.
Trends come from a number of places, and the two most important are the catwalk show of the big brands and the streets. In the old days, when fashion was something only available to the elite and non-working upper class, trends were born at the top, and then trickled down trough the layers. This was called the Trickle-Down effect, and is what happens, when a trend is born at the catwalk, and is later adopted by fashionable consumers.
Then you have the opposite situation, where a trend is born in the street, and later ends up at the catwalk shows. A classic example is how hip-hop culture in the US in the 80s and 90s put streetwear on the agenda, This is called the Trickle-Up effect. Remember how people in this sub-culture in the 90s used to wear their pants very low, as they didn’t use a belt. This was to imitate prisoners, whose belts were removed, when they went to jail. A sub-culture was born out of admiration and inspiration for the prisoners, and it inspired many of the big fashion brands, as well as becoming a fashion adopted by fashionable youngsters less devoted to the subculture, but rather looking for some cool outfit.
The photo of the two young girls in London, who have adopted the pastel-coloured look, was taken by street photographer Zuyu Wang, and shows how one of the strongest trends of the season lives in the streets. Pastel-coloured hair was seen on the Chanel Cruise collection 2013, and later picked up on the Chanel Cruise collection 2015. Over these two years, the trend has only grown in importance, and it first inspired other designers, and was then adopted by celebrities, models and stylist using this look. These are normally first-movers, because of their exposure to the fashion world, and later young people and creatives followed troop. Looking at how do fashion trends evolve, this is a classic example.
This is one of the great things about fashion. It’s democratic in the sense that you can have your say and use it, as you want. This makes it a way of expressing yourself, which is the main reason, why fashion isn’t superficial (a comment I’ve heard endless times over the years of people not working in fashion). From the other side of the table, and not seen through the eyes of a consumer but as a fashion designers, it’s wonderful how consumers take to your ideas, work and elaborate them in their own way and sort of continue the creative process.
Certain consumer goods are very expensive, and therefore not very democratic and for everybody, but people with a desire for fashion will find other ways. Just look at these two girls browsing through a vintage shop in London with the green hair, great faces and confidence. Long live trendy fashion and young people!
Photo by Zuyu Wang, London.