Fashion Trends in a Flash
Meryl Streep’s speech in the film The Devil Wears Prada (2006), known by fashion designers as the cerulean (dark sky-blue) speech, says it all. Streep, playing Miranda Priestly, fashion editor extraordinaire, explains that when a renowned designer creates several cerulean formal gowns, that particular color may inspire another famous creator to produce a collection of cerulean jackets, and fashion magazines decide if such a trend is, indeed, worthy of being touted. This cues department stores to add the new looks to their inventory, and from there the fast-fashion retailers like H&M will reimagine the designs as diluted and probably dull imitations of the original cerulean trend.
Connie Wang, writing for Refinery29, shares that although the speech sounds true-to-life, it is not. She continues by adding the “trickle-down” system, which suggests that designers are in cahoots with magazines and retailers, does not hold up in the real world. Wang explains why this theory is no longer viable.
Fashion Trends are Circuitous, Not Linear
The reason that best-loved wardrobe styles even exist in the 21st century is due to:
- social media
- an increased public appetite
In today’s world, trends occur, says Wang, because of art, films, and real life. Allison Cooper, a fashion marketing expert, says on LoveToKnow that traditional fashion houses still have an impact on what consumers buy, but runway designs are often over-the-top. Those who view these looks attempt to create similar styles of their own. Other fashion trends originate:
- in street styles
- on celebrities
- on fashion blog sites
- on social media
- in fashion capitals (Paris, Milan, London, New York City, for example)
- in thrift stores
- at fast-fashion retailers
And, as anyone in the field of couture and sales knows, many new ideas become popular, fade away, and recycle again season after season.
Maintaining the Popularity of a Trend
Trends will fade away if the product shows primarily in fast-fashion retail shops or luxury showrooms. Unless the design easy to find by the “masses,” new ideas can come and go without taking hold. As Kate Abnett said on the Business of Fashion site:
“…trends are born and die within an infinitely faster and more turbulent environment, in which brands, celebrities, magazines, bloggers and end consumers on social media all jostle for influence over what’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ of fashion.”
Many trend management consulting experts, such as Ann Lise Kjaer, founder of Trend Management Consultancy who counts Gap and la Perla among her clients, say it is no longer the product of the season that becomes heralded, but rather the brand. A trend, she explains, is not sustainable but may become a “tipping point” for customers. In today’s fashion market, it’s all about lifestyle. People use Instagram and find a style they like on a person’s post. They follow that person’s style choices. A retailer or designer would be wise to follow Marc Worth’s (Le Louët forecasting firm) advice:
“You don’t sell the product of the season that well anymore,” he said. “The most important thing is to work on your brand identity, who you are, how you differentiate from your competitors. Trends are tools that might help you convince your clients how you and your brand understand how the world changes.”
Analysts follow trends, but the focus has turned from predicting what will be popular in the coming months to providing designers a tool for finding tendencies that will adapt well to their designs. Fashion designers are also interested in which trends have staying power, which appeal to specific markets, and which will work for distinct demographics.
The current fashion industry faces the monumental problem of keeping up with the relentless need for seasonal designs, along with wardrobe designs for the months between the traditional runway presentations. The speed at which a designer gets a new idea into the marketplace is essential.
Now may be a good time to adopt a capsule wardrobe mentality. Some say a woman with good taste can make a 32-item wardrobe work. Another way to avoid the relentless fury of on-going trend-following is to donate at least half of your seasonal clothing to a good cause. Consider adding only classic clothing and accessories to the closet, and work at creating your own personal brand.
- Connie Wang
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