THE LIFECYCLE OF A TREND

ANNIE MA

01.08.21

While scrolling through Pinterest or watching a new runway show, it’s natural to wonder where these trends emerge from, how long they’ll be around for, and where they go to die. Although the lifecycle of a trend happens naturally, in reality there is a lot of meticulous  planning and calculating that goes into every cycle of a trend. Not only do trends follow a set cycle, they often come back within a set amount of time, making some trends truly timeless. 

The lifecycle of a trend is characterized by a bell shaped curve with distinguishing features at every stage. The first stage is the introduction of a style, where all the forecasting, manufacturing, and production that translates into styles gets displayed to the world. At this point of the cycle there is no real guarantee that the style will become a popular trend, so there is often a great risk of failure and high procurement cost associated with this period. The work of designers and materials along with production cost is high and can only be afforded by a niche group of people, but there is more flexibility for the creator to experiment. 

The second stage is the rise in popularity of a trend. At this time the trend gains more traction as celebrities, influencers and ultimately the general public start to buy and wear them. This stage is accelerated when the style gets imitated and adapted into a more affordable version that caters towards a broader audience. 

The next stage is the peak of the curve, marking the greatest popularity of a trend. At this point the previous rise in demand has pushed manufacturers to imitate and create the design at varying price ranges. This action can be successful, but can also cause problems, creating a thin line between adaptations and knock-offs during this stage. This point in time also involves gauging the interest of consumers to predict the longevity of the trend.

Next comes the decline in popularity, a natural phenomenon that occurs in almost every trend. People get bored of the same design and begin to look for the next new thing coming off the runway. At this point in the cycle, retailers begin putting these styles on sale in hopes to make room for the next new trend. 

The final stage of the lifecycle of a trend is the rejection of a style. Although this is the end of one trend, it also serves as the beginning of a new trend to emerge. When a new trend emerges, consumers will naturally be more prone to rejecting previous trends which leads to the end of a trend, for now. 

All five stages of a trend can often take as little as one year, or even one season. In today’s fashion world consumers demand instant fashion and are always looking for the latest trends so it’s common to see extremely short lived trends, but this doesn’t mean trends are necessarily gone forever. Fashion trends are traditionally known to re-emerge every twenty or so years, but when they come back around they are redesigned by advancements in technology, which often include better materials and more intricate designs. This results in fashion trends continuously evolving which establishes them as timeless in fashion history. The real timelessness of a trend will ultimately depend on the ability for a trend to be reinvented into something interesting to consumers and not just recycled.

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