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N IS FOR NEXT NEW THING
BY: LIZZIE POTOCSKY & RACHEL LEIBEL
COVER ART: JULIANNA LUKACS
N is for “next new thing.” The epitome of the fashion industry falls on one central factor: the drive to deviate from the status quo and ultimately create a captivating product and experience for consumers.
This might be a controversial opinion, but would it be crazy if we said that the latest trend is not really a trend at all? Low-rise jeans are in and then all of a sudden they’re not. An “it” girl takes over our feeds and then becomes out of sight, out of mind. The fashion cycle is a constant battle of brands to curate something exciting–something new. The fact of the matter is that humans get bored, and this boredom happens quickly. Keeping this in mind, labels attempt to meet human desire while focusing on the incorporation of a “wow-factor” that can blow our minds.
Fashion is both forward-looking and cyclical—always in motion. Just when you thought you had seen it all, Fendi teams up with Versace, creating Fendace, and Balenciaga with Gucci, making Gucciaga. Unlike ventures previously referred to as “collaborations,” or brands from different parts of the fashion world teaming up, this is a convergence of equals. Luxury brands that are used to competing for the same customer base at the same level of the market have decided to join forces and play together. After all, the desire to be innovative solely drives these collaborations, so once the typical luxury fashion x streetwear partnership no longer stood out, high fashion houses took it to a whole new level and further disrupted the industry’s agenda.
Additionally, labels are now making a name for themselves within the virtual world. With a goal to dive into the metaverse and curate a unique, 3D experience, luxury brands are extending their network to include UX designers and innovators to reach beyond the physical realms. In March of this year, a small and unknown digital studio called RTKFT generated $3.1 million in revenue by selling digital sneakers, which frankly looked like Air Force 1s if they were pulled right out of your favorite video game. These digital kicks are now being traded for up to $40,000. Inspired by this success, brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Dolce & Gabbana have also dipped their toes into the metaverse. Rebecca Minkoff released a collection of 15 NFTS ranging from .1 ETH (about $380) to .5 ETH (about $1900). This collection sold out in a whopping nine minutes. Moreover, Dolce & Gabbana raised $6.1 million in October in an auction for their nine-piece NFT collection.
Fashion’s collaboration with augmented reality does not appear to be ending anytime soon. In fact, this new wave seems to just be getting started. Whether a consumer wants to clothe an avatar in a game, wear a piece in an AR environment, or simply invest in an NFT for trading purposes, the hunger for digital clothing is on the rise. Furthermore, virtual fashion shows are currently being created via 3DREALM technology. The creation of NFTS is low-cost as no fittings, taxes, fees, or duties are involved; this is appealing to brands who want to generate hype in an inexpensive, yet innovative way.
The hunt for originality and innovation may feel like information overload. However, do not fret; the old consistently backs the new. While we may think that each day there is a new fad that we must get our hands on, the past always resurfaces. For instance, how many girls on your TikTok FYP put uggs and yoga pants on their Christmas lists? Despite these products seeming like early 2000s nostalgia, fashion is simply tugging at its roots to create a style that is current and feels—well—new. You know that nylon Prada bag you see practically everywhere? That bag is not “new”. Once upon a time in the early 2000’s, Prada’s nylon handbag styles were all the rage— practically every celebrity in that era was carrying one. As most trends do, these bags slowly declined in popularity and became virtually extinct. They became one of the many items sitting in the back of your closet existing solely as a memory. Fast-forward to 2021 and Prada has revived it’s iconic nylon style; the new line of “Re-Edition” bags are once again in high demand and the latest must-have item. Yes, trends change and evolve into bigger and better, but some will simply always come back.
So, what is the “next new thing” in fashion? Will it be 3D printed underwear? Biodegradable shoes? Lab-grown leather? The answer is: we will never really know. And that is the beauty of the fashion industry.