What’s “in” these days seems to be constantly changing thanks to the beautiful development of micro-trends. These are certain pieces that are trending in kryptonite because they sell incredibly well, so much so that everyone buys one, releases one (may never release it again, more on that later) – then she is exhausted. The thing about these pieces is that from a marketing standpoint, they sell really well – huge sales, great social media coverage, good brand traffic. However, from a creative point of view, these parts poison the industry and the environment.
Micro-trends work to adapt to the huge market. If an authentic design brand creates a piece that goes viral, many other brands like Shein and Amazon are quick to work to recreate the dress. Result: everyone buys it, so that it becomes basic.
Strangely, this process actually gives me some hope. The fact that we don’t want to wear clothes after they have become “too basic” or “too worn out” reminds me that we do want originality and unique pieces. However, we realize this too late. Influencers, in particular, don’t have time to wait to post the latest must-have posts.
Let’s take a step back. Why do we even buy these clothes? Why do certain pieces or certain styles become “trendy”? And why do we even care about trends that die within months anyway?
We’ve all heard of the 20-year cycle – the notion that every 20 years, fashion trends resurface in a new celebration and “vintage” echo. But lately, with Y2k’s popularity already faded and tired, I’m left wondering if and why trend cycles are getting shorter to occur every 10 years. The colorful 2000 is “over” because it was “exaggerated”. Now we’re entering a new phase that the internet considers “indie sleaze,” an echo of the grunge and Tumblr aesthetic of the early 2010s.
So what to do with these new trends? How do we know what is micro and what will last through this trend cycle?
Here’s the thing. The trend cycle itself is not sustainable. Even if you properly avoid micro-trends and focus on coins that perfectly and correctly fulfill the current trend cycle, you cannot track how long these coins stay in the overall style. Few have the money to follow. And even worse, the planet cannot.
How to follow trends? We can not. We need to unsubscribe.
This shortening trend cycle is dangerous for our environment. According to a study carried out this year by Frontiers in Environmental Science, “the textile industry generates approximately 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or almost 10% of global GHG emissions”. The study also includes this disclaimer: “Due to the growing demand for clothing exacerbated by the proliferation of the fast fashion business model…it is expected that the fashion industry will account for approximately 25% of the global carbon budget of 2050 (Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation, 2017).
We know we need to stop shopping at places like SHEIN, but despite all the research and evidence showing how horrible the microtrend business is, we’re trapped in the consumerist fog.
The rampant consumption this model produces is a dangerous expression of how the internet has crushed creativity and individuality. Surely we can muster more self-expression than what influencers and the “best sellers” list are feeding us. Don’t feel like you have to give up dressing fashionable; but the most important and most appreciated aspect of fashion are unique pieces.
We all have so much access now, from the internet and even from covid. Now that almost everything is online (even some Fashion Week shows are livestreamed!), we have no excuse but to get out into the world and find out what we really love. The internet is huge, don’t get lost in the trending page. Eventually, if the trend cycle shortens even further, we will find ourselves missing the winter summer trends of the same year.
The way forward in pop culture is Emma Chamberlain. The YouTuber from San Bruno, became a Vogue Met Gala host and nearly transcended the “influencer” label to achieve celebrity status. The way she handled this is her eye and her business plan. She started out simply following trends, embracing color-blocking, 80s style and 2000s darlings. But now, through her development and, I argue, the good use of her position, Chamberlain has infiltrated companies like Louis Vuitton and Vogue to elevate his style and enter the fashion industry. She no longer follows trends, she is close enough to designers to define them.
We can’t all be this close to designers, but we can all choose to rise above the irresponsible fruition of micro-trends.
The wardrobe really matures with age. Your favorite pieces are the one-of-a-kind, vintage pieces your mom gave you. If you’re reading this, you’re currently building your “this is what I wore in my 20s” wardrobe. Look for what is special!