Jessica Vieira | Opinion Editor
Trend cycles have been a part of the fashion industry for as long as fashion has been relevant. They usually last about a year or two and come back around every twenty. We’ve already started to see things from a variety of different decades come back, the biggest being 90’s and early 2000’s fashion, which is right on time. Trends new and old are great for finding new things that you like to wear, but they have their faults. They often leave us with that need to be trendy, or cool, which leads to buying a new wardrobe every season, which only adds to overconsumption. It gets worse, though. In recent years, along with these normal cyclical fashion trends, we are also seeing smaller trends go in and out of style quicker than ever before, due to the rise of influencing on social media like Instagram and TikTok. They are called micro-trends, fashion or makeup trends that come and go within months or even weeks. The idea that influencers are sent items and clothing to try and then paid to make positive videos and reviews about them is lost on many, and thus many people across the world fall victim to these many new trends.
The problem isn't that mainstream fashion is as versatile as ever, but that to meet the demands of this ever-growing, ever-changing appetite of consumers, and to stay relevant during the age of fast paced trend cycles, companies that produce cheaply made clothes with the help of unethical production techniques thrive. Thus, how fast fashion was born. Fast fashion takes styles from the runway and transforms them into disposable garments. The only thing they’re focused on is to get clothes made and out as quickly as possible. Companies like Cider, Zara, and Shein come out with new clothes practically every day, with styles that are stolen from independent artists and small fashion designers, that are made with the help of horrible factories with unethical working conditions. All of the more popular clothing brands and stores that have become known in households across the country like Nike, Target, American Eagle, and H&M are guilty of this.
The appeal is that most of these brands are cheap and accessible. Everyone deserves to have access to clothes that they feel good in, but if you are privileged enough for it to not be necessary to shop through these websites, it is wrong to support them. How ridiculous is it for people to buy a whole bunch of cheap clothes from places that actively employ sweatshops and steal artists' designs just to throw it all away when the trend inevitably dies? All this for the trend to come back in a couple of years. Not only is it a waste of money, but it’s also horrible for the environment.
Landfills are where all the old trends go to die. Clothes make up a huge portion of pollution around the globe, and fashion production companies help produce an entire 10% of greenhouse gas emission alone because of the energy and resources it takes to create so much so quickly (Fashion). To make clothes made of cotton, massive amounts of water are being used, clothing filled landfills contribute massively to putting microplastics in our water, and it takes so much energy to keep up with the fast-paced production needs for these trends and consumer demand.
Things will come in and out of style in the future. One way to ensure that you are not contributing to the unethical production of these clothes is by shopping in thrift or secondhand stores, or by keeping clothes even if they go out of style – just put them in a box somewhere, they’ll come back eventually. The number of times that I’ve regretted throwing a shirt away in the past because the style has made a comeback is hilariously high. The best thing to do though, is to find your own style. We’re not all the same and we don’t need to dress like we are. Be creative and true to yourself; That’s what’s so fun about fashion anyway.
In that same vein, there is a trend going on right now on Tik Tok that focuses on de-influencing yourself. It is comprised of people opening up about products that are just not worth the hype. Sentiments like “You don’t need another deodorant, lip gloss, or concealer,” and “Influencers are literally sent free things to review and are paid to say the right things” are being shouted from the metaphorical rooftops of social media. This is good! It’s opening people’s eyes to the sneaky ways that brands lie to you to get you to spend money. What I’m worried about is that this is another activist trend that will die down in a couple of months. Just like those little black squares that one day were taken down from people’s feeds once everyone that was privileged enough to have had enough got bored. I don’t think the de-influencing trend is performative, but my prediction is that it is just a trend and will die down eventually.
Fashion & Environment — SustainYourStyle. “SustainYourStyle.” SustainYourStyle, 2014.