Trends: Dead or Alive?
There is no right or wrong in fashion and style, trends and movements often contradict each other. Recently, The Sunday Times Style declared trends to be over. How lovely this would be, but in fact trends haven’t disappeared in anything; from cushions to kitchens to coats.
We need groupings and the tidiness of trends to support our ideas going forward. We need to know where a product of any sort sits in the coming seasons. At the moment, given so many external factors, fashion is slow in changing. Add to this the fact that many people are buying less for ethical and environmental reasons. Online shopping is all neatly packaged into trends and advice, so the customer is actually being led not leading. What IS certain right now is that Gucci and its fancy fantasy dress IS slowing down in sales and the Burberry and Celine view of bourgeoise dressing is moving further forward as the go to. So, there is a trend change anyway.
Yet once again the bourgeois camel story isn’t the simple answer to everything. Like all fashion it requires the buyer and wearer to study the pieces, try them on and relate them to their own life, style, budget, and figure. It’s no longer enough to slavishly follow fashion. Love Island proposes fashion and style for a totally specific target audience. The price point is staggeringly budget and the fabrics, colours and designs are firmly aimed at only one demographic. It’s NOT fashion or style but it is a fashion “look” for a consumer who loves it and hopes to live it. Isawitfirst.com is terrifying to me and many others but it exists at exactly the same moment in fashion as a simple wool and cashmere blend sweater by The Row for over £2,000.
The fragmentation of the fashion stories into many many sub and niche elements cannot be ignored. There may no longer be a single big trend or trends; titles such as Nautical Chic, Tropical Nights, etc. no longer stand up to scrutiny but they linger on as pegs on which to hang the seasons fashion. We need a neat and tidy way of summarising fashion. Even if it’s Tartan, or Tweed; grouping the pieces by fabric allows us to see which groups are strongest and balance out stock, buying, styling or merchandising.
Descriptive words enable us in our work and communication. If we take away terms such as “floral” or “fresh” from fragrance how can we describe a scent? There needs to be groups in order to fit fragrances into, to categorise them for ease when it comes to merchandising or purchasing. In the same way we need to look at the scope of fashion trends and own up to having to use trends to communicate to customers.
Sandro, Jil Sander, Ikks, Celine, Uniqlo, Ashish. Everyone of these fashion brands has trends or themes to communicate, some minimal and some highly decorative. They exist side by side in the fashion business because they offer the right product for their clients. Whatever and whoever, at whatever market level, for the brand to survive and make money, it must work in business terms. It’s not enough to capture a front page or a celebrity - it is still, at basic level, a case of making pieces of clothing and selling them. You can guarantee that every one of those companies uses mood boards and trends in some form or another to offer to journalists, buyers, stylists, and anyone who they are working with.
Once many years ago I was working on colour with a yarn company, one season they tried to remove the names of colours from the colour charts and only work with codes. P70745662 for example. Everyone went mad saying it’s the dark green. Which dark green? On the phone it got even worse. Madness ensued. The following season P70745662 was called Mallard.