The Life Cycle Of A Fashion Trend – How Do They Work?

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When you see flared trousers, ponchos, padded shoulders and other pieces of clothing come back into the high street shops; it often makes you wonder why some styles weren’t kept in the past. However, all fashions seem to have a cycle, and even ‘jeggings’ may be considered a replica of 1990s leggings, that were worn over 20 years ago now. Why do fashion trends come and go, and how is this determined – and who by?

The fashion cycle is said to start with a phase called the emergence phase. The American Marketing Association (AMA) sees this as the most important of the phases, as this is when the trend is highly sought after. This is usually when the item of clothing is found on the runway – or even in certain media such as music videos. As well as being shown on runways, fashion trade shows are often hosted – inviting fashion buyers and designers to introduce the themes, colours, and trends of an upcoming season. Fashion buyers often perform directional shopping after this time – they are given a budget, and they travel to collect motivation for creating their own pieces. This often helps along the direction of the season’s clothing.

The emulation phase is the next stage, where the trends will be shown in the wider media – such as magazines, TV and also the Internet. The manufacturers at this time as a result, adopt the designs and styles to produce with less expensive fabric or less details that the designer clothes do. The adaptations are made for mass production and for the general public, ready to be distributed from wholesale manufacturers to high street shops. At this stage, the fashion (where before may have not been completely ideal) is accepted by the public on a wider scale– and as a result, more people become attracted to the style.

After the emulation phase, the trend often peaks and it is available in many shops to the public, and this is where most of the public will take advantage of the trend (between stages two and three). It becomes saturated in the market, often at very low prices. It is said that most fashion trends normally are around for about a year – some longer if the fashion is not as bold. After this, there is a decline in the fashion trend, and the consumer often looks for newer trends available – or not willing to buy the existing trend at a high price. This is where most sales take place – at the end of every season.

About two decades ago, it might have taken a few years to make it from the designer’s hands to the high street – but today’s manufacturers and distributors have upped the speed of the fashion cycle. Sometimes a hot trend doesn’t last more than a few months, and trends generally move a lot faster than, for example, the 1970s and 1980s. The piece of advice that most people give, is keep your old clothes – as they will most likely come back into fashion at some point again in a person’s life!