Types of Fashion Trends and the Fashion Life Cycle
Sometimes in fashion a certain look, colour or print is hot and bam! – then it’s not. But what makes one trend last and evolve, when another trend, a FAD, seems to vanish into thin air without ever really becoming something cool? In Part 1, we looked at what Trends are and the Fashion Life Cycle. In this post we will explore where Fashion Trends sit with Micro, Macro and Mega Trends – the different types of fashion trends – as well as discussing how to recognize the signs of an emerging trend.
You may have sometimes heard people talk about macro trends or even mega trends. As you have macro and mega – you logically also have mini, though nobody seem to call them this. They’re merely called trends, especially in fashion.
Micro trends lasts approx. 1–2 years time, and this is here fashion trends usually reside. Macro trends tend to last about 5-10 years, and here we could be talking about things like fitness or food trends. Mega trends last about 20-30 years, and here we are dealing with mega game changers in society that, like macro trends, are social, cultural, technological, political and economical. Think how the sustainable trend is emerging due to lack of (future) necessities, world crisis etc. or simply out of many years of consumerism. And actually, as we have touched upon Sustainability, you may think it has been around for a long time, but most people agree that it’s only the beginning meaning that we’re still in the early stages of the Life Cycle. People also agree on this, as we simply don’t have an alternative, unless we want our planet to explode.
These different trend stages are overlapping, which means that whatever is happening in a lager scale will or can effect in a smaller scale and vice versa. Again think how the sustainable trend is affecting the fashion world, making the fashion industry rethink its entire value chain in especially production. Think how we as consumers react to both the fashion trend, but also on a higher level (mega) in what we think and perceive and in consequence live after and choose.
This is also an example that fashion, as a micro trend, is reacting to everything happening on a bigger level in social, cultural, technological, political and economical areas. Because of this, keeping an eye on the macro and mega trends will give an indication of what will happen in fashion. It will not give THE final answer, as everything is interpreted by people, and this will always give a subjective answer influenced by personality, culture etc. Perhaps you remember that during the last financial crisis, the fashion industry became very minimal stripped of all decoration. It was a clear reaction to a moment, where there was not a lot of fun, and people – the designers, stylists, consumers etc. – didn’t want to indulge in a fake reality. Of course, some people reacted in the exact opposite way and saw the need to ‘celebrate life’, or stayed true to a brand identity that wasn’t very minimal. This is generally how the fashion industry is put together; a lot of individual voices singing in different tones, but with an overall tune.
In essence, this means that what is of particular interest to us as fashion professionals is:
- being a mirror of what’s going on (in creating fashion),
- the ability of interpreting where in the Fashion Life Cycle a FAD or micro Trend (in the following just referred to as Trend) are at a given moment (in deciding what will come next).
With other words you can say that it’s about understanding the Value and also getting the Timing right. If we take a closer look on the timing, we’re interested in these signs of ‘sparkling stars’ in the initial phase. So what are the signs that we’re looking for? What’s a sparkling star?
Again, and this why Trend Forecasting can cause such confusion, it can be many things. The barometer is, if it captures our attention, as something we haven’t seen before, and if we feel refreshed. If this happens, it’s implicitly also something that resonates with us meaning; a mirror of what’s going on.
The sparkling star could appear by making its way to the runway or red carpet. Think of the naked dress worn by Beyonce or Rihanna last year while appearing in front of numerous fans and flashing cameras. It felt new (once again), it was hip (and perhaps a bit tacky?), and it started a naked trend, which we will see more of this upcoming summer ’16 with sheer and lace clothing being a big thing once again, and proposed by the fashion brands.
So after the exposure of an emerging trend (proposal), the second phase kicks in (validation), and here the fashion magazines, social media etc. will pick it up and start pushing the trend to their followers. Suddenly we see it everywhere, and now we want it too – or maybe not! Then comes the third and last phase (consumption), where we are able to actually go get it ourselves in a high-end or discount fashion store. In ‘the good, old days’, a trendy item would first appear in a high-end store and later in a discount store, and you could follow the Fashion Life Cycle this way. Today, though, it sometimes appears first in the high-street store and then later in the high-end. Perhaps, as the fashion system is seeing some significant changes (read more about that here), this will soon change.
Another example of a sparkling star can be something happening on the street, and then making its way to Fashion Influencers and then Fashion Brands or vice versa. A classic example is that of the hip-hop sub culture making its way to the runway with low-hanging pants and sneakers or the more recent Normcore trend.
Looking for sparkling stars can be tricky, but it’s fun too. Decide who are the Celebrities, Influencers, Magazines, Brands and Fashion Cities that you believe in, and then keep a close eye on what they’re up to.
Written by Carina Ellen and Bette Bondo