Looking at the increasing speed of modern trend cycles

By Dylan Freidman
Elm Staff Writer

Trends can touch on a variety of subjects, whether it be fashion, music, or film.

Some trends are shorter-lasting, such as fidget spinners or the Gangnam Style dance, but others stay around longer, coming back into popularity every 15 to 20 years and remaining bigger spectacles.

Masterclass, an online pop culture platform, defines a trend or fashion cycle as “a natural cycle by which a fashion trend is introduced, rises to mainstream popularity, declines, and finally gets rejected in the obsolescence stage.”

Originally, trends tended to begin in a more “organic” manner, such as word of mouth, which resulted in longer life cycles.

Nowadays, however, most trends gain popularity through the Internet. It is this evolution of communication that shapes the trends themselves. Trend cycles now rise and fall at an increasingly rapid rate due to the high-speed nature of the Internet.

Most trends that take off are relatively simple and easy to understand. Trends may gain popularity through various factors, including style, taste, marketing, and youth appeal. Meanwhile they fade quickly after their perceived novelty is gone.

According to Envato, “trends that experience widespread adoption can be attributed to the following driving elements: the right place, the right time, the right moment, and with the right people.”

Envato writes that Google Glass may be a product which arose at the right place and the right time, but “which failed to resonate with the right people.” Meanwhile, Art Deco was a trend whose “luxury and exuberance perfectly reflected the societal atmosphere” and needs of the Roaring Twenties.

The staying power of trends is reliant on business interests to turn a profit. Whenever a new trend emerges, businesses capitalize on it, whether it be big name brands using on meme culture or a pop culture phenomena.

In essence, businesses turn something “sacred” into something superficial. Due to quickening trend cycles, consumers are incentivized to “keep up” with the latest trend through merchandise, subscriptions, and other commercial items.

In doing so, the general public sphere is dominated by discussion on the latest product. A Pew Internet Study in the US found that attention spans have been diminished by instant access to computers and online platforms.

In short, people nowadays have shorter attention spans due to the Internet, so a bigger stimulus is required to really get them fired up.

Due to these quickening trend cycles, it is common to go back and grab a past trend, but this time through the lens of nostalgia. For example, in the fashion trend cycle, outfits frequently go through stages of being “in,” but inevitably fall out of favor.

According to MasterClass, a trend being “outdated” or “out-of-fashion” doesn’t mean it “will never reenter the cycle.”

“The cycle is in a constant state of repetition, bringing back ‘old fashions’ to send them through the movement of fashion,” MasterClass writes. “For example, the life cycle of jean waistlines: high-waisted jeans saw peaks in popularity during the 1940s, the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the 2010s, while low-waisted jeans saw peaks in between these years, in the 1960s and late 1990s through the early 2000s.”

While trends may seem ephemeral, it is indicative of the wider social behaviors of humans. Trends allow us to analyze how people react to certain social changes and how the landscape has been altered to accommodate them.

According to Henrik Vejlgaard, the author of “Anatomy of a Trend,” “There is nothing ‘mysterious’ about it and it never just happens ‘out of the blue,’ though it may sometimes appear to be so. That it is a social process means it’s created by human beings.”

Trends catapult topics and activities into the mainstream discussion. It lets us see what grabs people’s attention The Internet has advanced communications, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Featured Photo Caption: It is not just cheaper companies that are partaking in capitalizing on increased profit from faster trends. While luxury brands typically start the trends and they trickle down into fast fashion, they are not immune to the downsides of increased product turnout.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *