I'm Mary. It's nice to meet you. This blog is a tiny space on the internet to document my musings on style, travel and culture. Enjoy!

How Do Fashion Trends Start?

How Do Fashion Trends Start?

An example of the fall 2013 oversized, sculptural  trend at Theyskens' Theory. Photo by Mary O'Regan

An example of the fall 2013 oversized, sculptural trend at Theyskens' Theory. Photo by Mary O'Regan

Longtime reader Ashley posed an excellent question in the comments section of my post about oversized coats the other day. Here's what she said:

I’m really hoping you can answer this question for me; I’ve wondered for years: How is it that many designers have a similar trend at the same time? (example: structural, large coats seen on many runways) One would think that if they were just left to their own devices they would come up with all manner of things for each season, but this is not the case. How does this happen? Does A.W. bring them all in for a meeting??

Hah! I love the idea of Anna Wintour holding a seasonal summit to declare the latest trends, but believe it or not, it doesn't actually happen that way. I have a few theories on the true origin of trends:

  • It starts with the heavy-hitters. Designers like Marc Jacobs, Phoebe Philo and Nichloas Ghesquiére will take a risk and try out a new look — say, updated grunge — and if it's successful, it'll start appearing in magazines and on style influencers around the globe, from actress Diane Kruger to blogger Leandra Medine.
  • Fashion is cyclical, so as influencers cherry-pick the best styles available, designers look to the influencers to see what colors, textures and silhouettes they're favoring. The more influencers and magazines pick up a certain style, the more likely it is to become a trend.
  • Many designers also hire fashion consultants, like street-style-darlings Yasmin Sewell and Elisa Nalin, to advise them on top trends. Oftentimes, these consultants are also style influencers.
  • Making money matters to even the most groundbreaking designers, so even if they're sending crazy looks down the runway, they're shipping tamer, more retail-friendly versions to stores. And the stores' buyers, who also study the influencers, are likely buying the most on-trend items.
  • Eventually, the trickle-down effect sets in, and mass-market brands like Zara, Topshop and Urban Outfitters start mimicking the biggest trends, making them even more common and attainable.
  • Keep in mind: Trends move very slowly and organically, starting at one point and evolving into something related, but different. So when skinny jeans came back into vogue in the early 2000s (thanks in part to iconic influencer Kate Moss), it's no surprise that jeggings soon followed.
  • Another thing to remember is that opposites attract, and the aforementioned trendsetting designers love nothing more than bucking the trends they set a few seasons ago. Which is to say ... don't be surprised if you see wide-leg jeans everywhere in five years.
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