When Fashion Trends Die
It's a fashion follower's worst nightmare -- worse than looking fat, more humiliating than wearing the same dress as another party guest -- it's the dread of looking last year.
Fashion trends, sometimes referred to as fads, are notoriously fickle. The fashion industry is always on the hunt for what's new, what's hot. For every new, must-have handbag, there's another that gets tossed aside like, well, last year's trend.
The Fashion Cycle
First, there's the emerging trend (the American Marketing Association refers to this as the "distinctiveness" part of the cycle where the trend is highly sought after. You know this as when you see that great hat/dress/shoe on the runway, red carpet or music video.
Next, comes what the AMA calls the emulation phase, where everyone wants a piece of the trend. You'll see it in fashion magazines, newspapers, internet and TV during this phase.
Finally, the trend becomes saturated in the market, usually at very low prices. With trendy items like a must-have designer handbag, the item becomes widely available as a knock-off.
Most of us will buy it somewhere between phases two and three. Only celebrities and fashion industry types have access to fashion fresh off the runway that hasn't appeared in stores yet, like in the first phase of a fashion trend.
At the second phase a look is often available in high-priced designer collections. Only in the third phase, when a look makes it to the mass market, does it become affordable for most consumers.
Twenty or 30 years ago it might have taken a few years to make it from red carpet to mass market, but today's manufacturers have put the fashion cycle into hyper speed. Sometimes a hot trend makes it into lower priced retail outlets in as little as a few months.
In or Out?
Affordable trendy clothing (sometimes called "fast fashion") is a double-edged sword: it makes fashionable looks accessible to those of us on real-life budgets, but when the market is totally saturated with a look a trend loses its appeal. It basically helps to kill the trend quicker.
So how do you know how long a trend will last? A few general guidelines:
The best defense against quickly changing trends is to have a wardrobe stocked with mostly classic looks: jeans, T-shirts, blazers, little black dresses. Use trendy items as an addition to a core wardrobe to give it some kick.
This website is copyrighted by Desirae Gibson 2005.