19 Nov BREAKING THE CYCLE
We need to reduce and reimagine how we partake in fashion trend cycles
We live in a culture where fast fashion hauls worth hundreds of dollars pop up on our feeds regularly, yet somehow, the thousands of dollars of labour costs behind them go unaddressed and unaccounted for. New trends emerge every season, and it’s become clear that the rate at which we view fashion trends cycling is increasing exponentially. Looks from ten years ago have come back in style, long after most of us have already gotten rid of the pieces we adored back then. We are forced to sit in regret for a few minutes and think of all the items we wish we could get back.
The cost of buying a new wardrobe each season is a price only a small percent of us can afford. Between fast fashion, expensive brands, and even thrifted clothing, many of us find ourselves purchasing items that stay in our closets for only a short amount of time. I find myself cleaning out my closet every couple of seasons, and I can usually scrounge up a recycling bag or two of clothes I no longer wear or like. There are skirts buried in my dresser that will never be worn again, and shirts in my closet that will never see the light of day.
The trend cycle begins with the introduction and increase phase, then moves through the peak, and onto the decline, and finally; the supposed obsolescence of a garment. When a particular item, silhouette, colour, or look first appears, usually endorsed by a brand or celebrity, the garment begins the introduction phase of the trend cycle. The piece then must be accepted by the public in order to reach the increase phase. Consumer demand and product visibility are significantly increased in this stage, and the piece gains momentum and traction.
The peak of a style, colour, or silhouette is when it becomes accessible to the general population. Retail stores pick up the look and begin replicating it, making the look available at a lower price point. When a garment reaches its peak point in the cycle, it tends to lose traction due to its oversaturation in the market.. Once a style of clothing becomes popular, the appeal is lost for many and they dispose of the item either through donation or second hand sale. Just like that, a garment can enter and leave the closet in less than a year.
The peak of a look feeds into its decline. A piece’s oversaturation competes with new trends in the introduction and increase phases; this is a losing battle. Oversaturation of a style makes many feel as though their look is no longer unique.In the obsolescence phase, a garment has the opportunity to resurface in a slightly varied form after enough time has passed. Mass consumption markets have often moved on to a different style of the same garment in order to make it feel new and captivate the consumer.
Boiler suits of the 1940s come back into popularity every few decades. Some could argue that the platform heels and leather jackets of the late 1960s and early 1970s never truly entered a state of obsolescence but were instead reimagined into a slightly different style at each turn of the trend cycle. The neon colour palette of the 1980s arose again in the early 2000s. 1990s’ high-waisted denim and flannel resurfaced shortly after the fall of bright neon colours just before the 2010s. Muted greens and browns, reminiscent of the colour pallet of the late 90s, are in high demand right now. Low rise jeans, which peaked in the early 2000s, could arguably be once again in the style’s increase phase; the cycle does not end.
Fashion trend cycles bring styles back, and pieces can be revived from their state of obsolescence. Refocusing on reducing our clothing purchases allows us to waste less and keep our clothing for longer.
Deciphering between the clothes I truly like and the clothes that I’ve been told to like has helped me reimagine how I partake in fashion trend cycles. I’ve found that not every style that comes up in the trend cycle has suited my body or taste. Some colours bring out the rose of my cheeks more than others and some pant styles make my legs look shorter than they are. By reconsidering the rate at which I am buying clothing and what pieces of clothes I am buying, I have been able to lessen my consumption and find clothing that actually makes me feel good, rather than clothing I am told will make me feel good.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: ONLINE ILLUSTRATOR SADIE LEVINE