Fashion, Like History, Repeats Itself

By Paige Captain on June 14, 2017

When I first sat down to write this article, I was somewhat overwhelmed by my variety of topic options and because it was my first Uloop article, I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. As I skimmed the list of suggested topics and contemplated what was important to me, I was quickly drawn to the topic of fashion.

While I am personally passionate about fashion and therefore enjoy discussing it, I also think that as a college student, what we wear plays a subtle, but big part in our lives. For example, just going to class, there is an entire spectrum of different clothes that each student wears. I’ve seen anything from sweatpants to high heels.

Another thing that makes fashion relevant to college students is money. As a college student, most of the time we aren’t always in the best situation financially, which makes the process of shopping a little bit different. We are more likely to shop at less expensive (and therefore lower quality) stores and I would even argue that being a student means owning less or spending less overall on clothes, simply because our money is going to other things.

Something that has recently stood out to me about fashion is the fact that it repeats itself. The other day, I ordered some denim shorts that had a floral embroidery from this boutique out in Covina called OOTDfash. I had ordered them online so I obviously wanted to try them on right when I got them. My mom happened to see me in them and she laughed a little bit. I asked her what was so funny and she told me that she remembered when embroidery like that used to be in style so it was funny to her that the trend was coming back around. I’ll post a picture and the link for the shorts below.

One of my best friends, Melanie Silberberg, is a student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, or FIDM, so I spoke with her a little bit about this topic. She started our conversation by saying that most of the time, fashion is never new, but instead is inspired by the past; even when we think something is original, it is more often than not inspired by something in the past.

Melanie also talked to me about something called a fashion cycle. The fashion cycle is the process through which different trends go through, often repeatedly.

In addition to the fashion cycle, there is also something called the categories of adoption. This term is referring to the people who purchase trending clothing and the time at which they do it. The first category is the innovators, which is only 2.5 percent of the population. These people are essentially the trend setters; they are the first to purchase articles from the specific trend.

Next is the early adopters, which is only 13.5 percent of the population. These are the people who catch on very early to what the innovators are doing and immediately follow in their footsteps. Next is the early majority, which makes up 34 percent of the population. While they are technically in the majority, they are in the earlier half. This means that the late majority, which is next, takes up another 34 percent of the population. Lastly are the laggards, who make up 16.5 percent of the population. These are people who are extremely late to purchase articles of a trend.

Besides the instance with my shorts, there are many other trends that have and are repeating themselves. For example, a trend that is very prominent right now (and definitely not for the first time) is anything off the shoulder. What is interesting about this trend is that because it has been in style for so long, this means it is towards the end of the cycle and those who purchase off-the-shoulder things at this time are fashion laggards.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Melanie and I also talked about the concept of predicting trends and what that means for innovators. A current trend that has not yet reached the acceptance phase and is still in the beginning of the introductory phase is the strapless and/or tube-top look. I’ve seen very little of this trend in stores such as Urban Outfitters (which is where I would expect to see it the quickest) and have seen even fewer of these pieces on people themselves. Melanie and I were at an event last week and saw one girl wearing a “tube-top” and this is how our conversation started. Melanie explained to me that this girl would be considered an innovator because it is so extremely early on in the introductory phase.

What do these facts mean for those who enjoy fashion and following trends? Nothing if you don’t want it to. For me, I think I tend to fall into either the early adopters or early majority, depending on the specific trend itself. I don’t say this to make myself sound really fashion forward, it’s just what I notice that I do.

However, I will say that I tend to continue wearing pieces from a trend even after the fashion cycle has ended. I’ve noticed this specifically with the Birkenstock trend. I remember when I was a junior in high school, Birkenstocks made a really big comeback and quickly went through the fashion cycle. For this trend specifically I think I bought my Birks as someone in the late majority but I still continue to wear them now, almost four years later.

When I brought this up to Melanie, thinking it was abnormal, she said that it is actually normal to have certain pieces that you wear quite often. She said that these pieces at that point are simply part of your style. But really, in my opinion, I think you should just wear whatever you want whenever you want.

– Paige

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