We have to unsubscribe from micro-trends – Daily Trojan Online

What’s “in” these days seems to be constantly in flux thanks to the lovely development of micro-trends. They are certain pieces that are fashion kryptonite because they sell incredibly well, so much so that everyone buys one, posts in one (can never post in it again, more on that later) — then it is exhausted. The problem with these pieces is that from a marketing perspective, they do great — huge sales, great social media coverage, good brand traffic. However, from a creative perspective, these pieces poison the industry and the environment.
Micro-trends function to accommodate the huge market. If an authentic design brand creates a piece that goes viral, then plenty of other brands like Shein and Amazon work quickly to recreate the dress. The result: everyone buys it, just for it to become basic.
Strangely, this process does in fact give me some hope. The fact that we do not want to wear clothing after it becomes “too basic” or “overworn” reminds me that we do indeed want originality and unique pieces. However, we realize this too late. Influencers especially don’t have time to wait before they post the most up-to-date must-have items.
Let’s take a step back. Why are we even buying these clothes? Why do certain pieces or styles become “trendy”? And why do we even care about trends that die within months anyways?
We’ve all heard of the 20-year cycle — the notion that every 20 years, fashion trends resurface in a new, “vintage” celebration and echo. But lately, with the popularity of Y2k already faded and tired, I’m led to question whether and why trend cycles are shortening to occur every 10 years. Colorful Y2k is “over” because it got “overdone.” Now, we’re entering a new phase the internet is deeming “indie sleaze,” an echo of early 2010s grunge and Tumblr aesthetics.
What to do then 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 pieces that perfectly and correctly fulfill the current trend cycle, you cannot keep up with how long those pieces stay in general style. Few have the money to keep up. And even worse, the planet cannot.
How can we keep up with trends? We can’t. We must unsubscribe.
This shortening trend cycle is dangerous for our environment. According to a study done this year by Frontiers in Environmental Science, “the textile industry generates roughly 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent or nearly 10% of world GHG emissions.” The study also includes this warning: “Due to the growing demand for clothing exacerbated by the proliferation of the fast fashion business model… it is projected that the fashion industry will account for approximately 25% of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 (Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation, 2017).”
We know we need to stop shopping at places like SHEIN, but despite all the research and evidence pointing to how horrible the business of micro-trends is, we are trapped in the consumerist haze.
The rampant consumption this model produces is a dangerous expression of how the Internet has squashed creativity and individuality. Surely we can muster more personal expression than what we’re fed from influencers and the “best sellers” list. Don’t feel like you have to abandon dressing trendy; but the most important, continually valued aspect of fashion is 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 live-streamed!), we have no excuse but to get out into the world and discover what we truly like. The internet is huge, don’t get lost in the trending page. Eventually, if the trend cycle shortens even more, we’ll find ourselves missing summer trends in the winter of the same year.
The path in pop culture to look towards is Emma Chamberlain. The YouTuber from San Bruno, has become a Vogue Met Gala Host and almost transcended the label of “influencer,” to reach celebrity status. The way she managed this, is her eye and business plan. She started out by simply following trends, embracing color-blocking, ‘80s style and 2000s scrunchies. But now, through her development and, I argue, proper use of her position, Chamberlain has infiltrated companies like Louis Vuitton and Vogue to elevate her style and access to the fashion industry. She no longer follows trends, she is close enough to designers to set them.
We can’t all be that close to designers, but we can all choose to rise above the low-hanging-irresponsibly-made-fruit of micro-trends.
One’s wardrobe truly does mature with age. Your favorite pieces are the one-off, vintage hand-me-downs that your mother gave you. If you’re reading this, you’re currently building your “this is what I wore in my ‘20s” wardrobe. Search for what is special!
Extra en Español
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