It’s no secret the fashion industry is huge — it’s everywhere. Even if you’re not what some might call a “fashionista,” you’ve shopped for clothes before, right? In fact, chances are high you’re wearing clothes right now. Well, that means you’re part of the fashion industry — you’re the consumer. The fashion industry is a trillion-dollar global powerhouse. From footwear to apparel, brands are constantly producing pieces with the consumer in mind. And given that trends are always evolving, the industry is in a constant state of movement. Have you ever wondered how fashion trends get decided? Who chooses what styles are trending? How do retailers determine what different wholesale clothing to feature? How do trends go from an idea to something bigger? The fashion industry isn’t just about creative people making great clothes. It’s a science, and those involved have to pay close attention to what’s going on in the world.
What Are Fashion Trends?
To put it simply, fashion trends are styles that become popular. If it’s trending, that means it’s something a lot of people want to wear at a particular point in time. Tie-dye shirts were a fashion trend in the 1960s; today it’s mom jeans. The people responsible for deciding what’s trending are called trend forecasters, and they focus on two specific types of trends: microtrends and macrotrends. Microtrends are items that go in and out of style rather quickly (usually from season to season). For example, checked prints might be popular now, but in a few months, a cheetah print might take its place. Macro trends, on the other hand, stick around for the long haul. Think of macro trends as “decade styles.” For example, bell-bottom jeans would’ve been considered a macro trend in the 1970s. Keep in mind that macro trends don’t necessarily have to be a specific style of clothing — they can be an initiative. This year, especially, sustainable clothing has become a macro trend. This is in response to the backlash the fashion industry has experienced in recent years for wreaking havoc on the environment. Because trends are always changing, clothes are constantly being produced, which creates waste and pollution. Having seen these results, many manufacturers have focused on creating sustainable and environment-friendly clothing in the last couple of years and retailers have been looking to sell more of these clothes. In fact, many brands have started advertising their clothing as eco-friendly. Levi’s, the denim giant, is working toward using 100% sustainably sourced cotton in its products. The company is also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in the next four to five years. Cuyana, a women’s retail brand, has discussed its goal to work only with family-run businesses in an attempt to reduce overproducing. The company is also on a mission to only use sustainably sourced materials that are better for the environment.
How Are Trends Chosen?
The process of choosing trends has drastically changed throughout the years. There was once a time when trend forecasters relied solely on what they saw in designer fashion shows. Now, thanks to social media, a celebrity Instagram post could determine a trend. (Yes, really.)
Here are four ways trends are chosen in the 21st century:
1. Fashion/Runway Shows
While fashion/runway shows might not be the only way to determine trends anymore, they’re still a major factor. After all, runway looks are created by some of the best fashion designers in the world. And while every show highlights several different pieces, it’s the overall theme that trend forecasters look out for. In 2020, designers brought cashmere and wool back into the fashion industry with several “cozy” runway looks. Now, cashmere two-piece sets and wool tops have become widely embraced fashion trends. It’s important to note that one of the benefits of fashion shows is diversity. The clothing a trend forecaster will see on a New York runway will differ from what they see on one in Tokyo. That’s why trend forecasters pay attention to fashion in every part of the world.
2. Celebrities and Influencers
There’s no denying celebrities have an impact on fashion trends. Even celebrities who aren’t known to the fashion world can inspire next season’s must-have look. Why? Because celebrities have fans who watch their every move. They’re a source of information for many, which is why companies pay celebrities to endorse their brands. Take singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, for example. Her signature style of wearing loose and baggy clothes has inspired an entire generation of fans to do the same.
3. Fashion Bloggers
You might be wondering, “What’s the difference between a fashion blogger and an influencer?” While there can be some overlap between the two, think of fashion bloggers as a more credible source. Fashion bloggers have usually gone to school for fashion or have years of industry experience. Because of their backgrounds, their fashion opinions come from a more informed place. Some fashion bloggers are designers or trend forecasters who share their expertise via their online platforms.
4. Everyday Looks
Believe it or not, trend forecasters pay attention to what everyone wears. They’ll make note of the everyday looks they see while grabbing coffee or going to the grocery store. Celebrities and fashion bloggers aren’t the only people who can inspire a trend. According to Catriona Macnab, WGSN’s chief creative officer, monitoring trends is a constant task. “We can track what’s happening literally all around the world,” she told The Debrief. “If something’s happening in one city, we’ll track that and see where it might hit next and next and next. The customer now demands instant fashion, and they want the trends worn by celebrities, immediately. So we have to react to it. It can change even weekly.” Fashion trends can come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. They can even come back years later, for seemingly no reason at all. Because trends are always changing, trend forecasters need to remain on high alert. They have to pay attention to what celebrities are wearing, what designers are producing, and what consumers are attracted to. It’s through this careful observation that trends are born and consumers’ needs and desires are met.
Presented by: Adogy