The existence of fashion trends date back hundreds of years. They signified to show how much extra money and leisure time you had. They signified your level in society, suggested your connection to royal families, that sort of thing. It would begin with whatever the reigning party, king or queen, liked – and the faster you caught on and followed suit, the better it indicated you were to observant of their tastes.
Studies have shown that kids begin to use clothing to conform to peer groups as early as eight years old. It’s odd, but perhaps it reveals a certain insecurity in many of us; a need to be recognized and legitimized that clearly goes back hundreds of years.
Here are a few things that following fashion trends say about you.
You’re trying to fit in
Trends are something that are followed primarily by young people – all worried about image, trying to fit in, look cool etc. Today, what’s worth a lot more is authenticity. Being yourself. Self-expression. The rise of social media platforms, the selfie and a connected world allow for exactly that; doing your own thing. Some may make the argument that all of this has simply made conformity easier, but the fact is that it’s all made it easier to allow your personality to shine. After all, Instagram is where you can show off your unique sense of style.
You’re trying to be noticed
It’s odd, but true: people seem to be trying to fit in and stand out at the same time. They may see themselves as bland; they see the “cool kids” as people who have found each other through mutual respect of their ability to stand out. This isn’t exactly a contradiction, if you think about it. Birds of a feather flock together; and sometimes that “feather” is being unique.
Following trends is often people’s way of being noticed. And we hate to say it, but you’re probably doing it wrong. The way to get noticed is to go where your competitors aren’t, right? It’s about standing out. Again, this all ties back to authenticity. Trend-following appears most profoundly in our youth and even through to early adulthood (which many would still count as ‘youth’!). This also happens to be the time when we’re most self-conscious about our where we stand in relation to our peers and society at large.
But clothing should also make us look unique. It should demonstrate our individuality. The fashion-forward individual tends to resist trends, goes for other ideas – they set trends instead of following them. Getting your own clothes designed or older clothes altered by the likes of my favorite tailor, or going to odd underground stores with really unique items; these things are much closer to authenticity than just Googling “what’s hot in fashion right now” and buying whatever you see. Speaking of which…
You’re spending money (like, a lot of money)
Skipping fads and defying trends can mean saving tremendous amounts of money. Think about it. Every scene, every holiday, every occasion…there is some sort of trending look or new color, fresh cut, whatever. Trends are often the same thing repeated in some shape or form. Animal print is out, now blazers-over-shirts is in. Blazers-over-shirts is out, now faux leather is the new thing. Faux leather is so yesteryear; it’s all about animal print now. Do things really ever go out permanently?
The whole marketing concept behind it is simple, and actually pretty clever, because it definitely influences the majority of people. Trends exist to make the consumer feel like they are missing something, out of date, behind the times… and as a result coax them into spending just that little-bit more on these “fantastic new looks!”.
Many fashion houses now produce around eight collections every year, and the whole thing is cycled rapidly. It is, of course, all a way of maximizing profit. The onset of trends keeps us buying for fear of wearing “last year’s stuff” — so more money goes to the fashion industry.
Think of how much money you could save if you invested in clothing at your leisure, in articles that make you feel comfortable and confident. The only exclusion to this are the rich, wealthy and guys who have already proved they are a success. And they might as well. However, it’s the ones who aren’t that fall for it the most of the time.
Fashion trends are largely artificial, and chasing them costs too much money. Does this mean you should avoid anything that’s trending? No – you should buy and wear whatever makes you happy. Maybe it’s trending. Maybe it’s contrarian. But as long as you’re being authentic, you’ll be fine.
Fashion trend image by Flickr.