Year upon year. season upon season, month upon month we are fed with new trends. Some are just a flash in the pan micro-trend that leave just as quick as they come and others are longer lasting and much more prominent. As we know, designers showcase their main collections twice a year (in February and in September) for the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections respectively. What designers show in September, essentially we will be wearing the following spring.
Each season there seems to be a little bit of similarity between what designers produce, whether it be intentional or coincidental, it happens. Many designers run in the same crowds; are exposed to the same exhibits, music, art, movies, literature or whatever; live in the same cities; grew up in the same places; travelled to the same places in the world. In fashion, inspiration can be drawn from almost anything, anyone or anywhere therefore obvious similarities will occur.
Selection of looks from the FW14 catwalks
It is the job of trend agencies (known as fashion forecasting agencies) to draw up these similarities and produce reports based on this. The link between things may be clear whereas with other trends, often just the micro ones, the thread may be thinner. Fashion magazines help to emphasise the trends which have been highlighted via their own editorials and stories in which they will champion the upcoming trends for the forthcoming season. Styling is key. A well styled editorial can cause even the most average person to want to look like that, to dress like that, to be that girl in the magazine. Magazines are physical proof that something is in. Pages are ripped out and plastered onto walls of teenagers around the world (or if you’re an organisation freak like me, carefully filed away in a ring binder folder subdivided by poly pockets), images are saved on phones, photos are posted on instagram, pinned on pinterest, you know the drill. Boom, a trend is created.
Buzzwords and big fonts will be used on the front covers of the magazines which line the news stands, eventually these will begin to sink into the consumers. We see, we want, we buy. Once the trends are created, dictated by the big guys (magazines and trend agencies respectively), the high street shops buy them in. They produce their own versions of what is seen on the runways, sometimes blatant copies that are almost criminal. As a consumer, I cannot complain too much about this. I want to dress how I want to dress. If I see something on the runway by Balenciaga that I know I love but could never afford, I look to H&M, I look to Zara. Fast fashion retailers, although doing the actual designers a huge discredit, make it a lot easier for us normal people to remain well dressed and not completely broke.
That is not to say, however, that it is ok to completely copy something shown on the catwalk. Yes, whilst the version we get in the high street chain stores is lesser, both in price and quality, it is still a copy of someone else’s work. Copyrighting in fashion is a little hazy and the lines less distinct than they are in other industries such as music and literature where plagiarism comes with a hefty price tag. Whilst counterfeiting comes with a massive fine, up to £250000 in France, buying an inspired item does not. I am all for a good high street alternative as long as it is a little different from the real thing. As I understand, luxury is luxury for a reason. The designer price tag comes with the exclusivity and the knowing that not many others will have what you have – the price being the determining factor. We all know that the rich are getting richer, and the rest of us… not so much.
So each season, when the high street stores get in their new stock, thousands of units of new hip, trendy pieces, we (the consumers) immerse ourselves in it. We soak it up. We hand over our credit cards, debit cards, wads of cash and try to put together an outfit that makes some sense of what is being thrown at us by the racks upon racks of clothing.
Now I for one take pride in my appearance, as I know many others do also (It doesn’t mean you’re vain by the way). I want to dress nicely yet I also want to remain up-to-date. For this reason, I understand the importance of trends which although many try to avoid, we all end up following to a certain extent. However, I also understand that it is important to not go over the top with a trend. Not everything that is “cool” will work for each individual. Nor do trends mean that you cannot dress in the classics either. Everyone knows of the staples that should be in a wardrobe and whilst I’m not condemning anyone who dresses head to toe in the latest fads, I think it is infinitely easier to incorporate some trend pieces into your regular outfits, never neglecting the key pieces. It allows you to stay current without looking too try hard, too overdone. There is nothing worse than seeing someone who looks uncomfortable in what they are wearing, a true victim in fashion. If something is not for you, accept that, move on.
So yes, whilst we are all influenced by trends at least to a certain extent, we should not let them take over. You do not have to go out each season and buy a whole new wardrobe just because that is what the fashion magazines, blogs, social media, whatever you’re looking at basically, tells you to do so. Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry which thrives off making money from making us feel like we need to purchase these “must have” items. Don’t be duped but do allow yourself to indulge every so often. After all, how we dress can severely affect how we feel. Using this logic, dressing good = feeling good, am I right?