The fashion trend cycle

By: Emilia Moberg

Throughout history, thousands of fashion trends have emerged and gone out of style. Typically, trends follow a multiple-decade cycle. For example, in the 1940’s pre-war era, wide-shoulder shirts and jackets and a-line skirts were popular silhouettes. Then, in the 1980’s, large, shoulder-padded blazers returned to the fashion sphere, completing the cycle.

However, largely due to the increase of global connection and mass industrial production in the past 5-10 years, fast fashion and “micro-trends” have taken over the fashion industry. Microtrends are trends that cycle in and out of style in a matter of months or weeks. In an article on, Stella Hertantyo breaks down this new fashion cycle into five steps: introduction, rise, acceptance, decline, and obsolescence. A new style is introduced, then picks up relevance in fashion communities. Next, it is established into mainstream fashion consciousness and is often mass-produced. As the trend is fully incorporated into the mainstream, it is no longer fresh and exciting to consumers, and is discarded for newer trends to arise in its place.

The availability of mass-producing, fast fashion retailers, such as Shein, have fueled this rapid cycling. Additionally, social media competition drives the want to buy and consume more items to keep up with the trends.

There are pros and cons to this new trend cycle. Due to the desire for new products, designers have needed to get creative to fill the need. Mass production makes clothing cheap and fashion should be accessible to anyone who wants to participate in it. However, the fast fashion industry breeds overconsumption and has many environmental drawbacks.

One solution is sustainable clothing. However, it can be very expensive and inaccessible.

In my opinion, buying second-hand clothing is one of the best ways to expand your style and find quality clothing for cheaper prices, without participation in fast fashion.