Trendy. Virality. Style. Fashion. Top of the line. State of the art.
These are all words that we all want to be associated with. For better or for worse, these are part and parcel of the goals of people living in a globalized world and economy.
The idea of being in style, in fashion, to be trendy, to be always abreast of what’s currently understood by society as being “hip” or “chic”. This is true not only when it comes to fashion trends, but also with electronics. Case in point: the iPhone 7.
The same is true for what once were trends, such as the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer (remember when everyone and his mum had one?). Same goes for the George Foreman Power Grill. Plug.
There’s always something that’s captivated the collective consciousness of people all over the world at one time or another, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
The question that remains is…who decides what’s trendy or otherwise? What qualifies a piece of clothing, for instance, in style and in fashion? Who’s to say when something’s gone out of chic? These are some of the questions we’ll attempt to tackle over the course of this discussion.
Perhaps the best example of how fashion trends work can be traced from the glamorous villain of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly. That scene where she dresses down Andrea Sachs with her diatribe on a blue sweater – in essence, fashion (or pretty much whatever it is you’re wearing) is mainly driven by the people sitting in a design company, regardless of whether you are aware of it or not – you can’t for granted the number of people it takes to produce a piece of clothing.
People who work in the field of fashion or industrial design, or product development will obviously relate to this – anything that’s perceived as fashionable will come from the knowledge and influence of a certain group of people that have each his own experience and influences that will matter when the final product comes out – the same was true with Steve Jobs and his iPhone.
The truth of the matter is that if a designer shows it fashion with all of his models wearing a bob hairstyle, that the bob will be the next trend. For fashion, all that is considered trendy and fashionable can be predicted in one chain: that is, from influences, to designers, to review, to the runway, to the influencers, to the low-end of the high street, and finally, full circle, to the high-end of the high street.
It’s a structure that’s tried and tested by fashion designers – designers try not to be influencing each other; it’s the cardinal sin of repeating what’s already been done. In other words, it’s a rip off. It may work when it comes to the arts and electronics, but not when it comes to fashion.
We can take the case of punk fashion as a perfect example of corporations picking up cultural trends from influencers to cash in on what’s trending.
Without delving too much in the origins of the whole punk subculture in the UK, the style of dress that was associated to this subculture became “cool”, as the youths’ way to differentiate themselves from the previous disco generation. Enterprising apparel manufacturers exploited this in their creations, thus making it popular (and effectively killing the whole point of punk subculture, which is to rebel against the system).
You can see it as cycles of fashion, as each generation seeks to dissociate itself from the previous, by taking up certain ways of dress. You need look no further than today’s millennial, “street” fashion. All the more so with the rise of “fast fashion”.
But that’s a story for another day.