What’s ‘In’ — And WHO Decides Anyway?

By Caroline Hicks

A trend by definition is a general course or prevailing tendency, drift, style or vogue.

Style trends are all around us.  They’re walking in front of you on the streets, clinging to the rails on the subways, even sitting in your English class.

It doesn’t take an experienced fashionista to realize they exist, but the real question is: Where do they originate?

“I think the trends begin on the runways,” Bradley Agather of the popular luella and june fashion blog says.  “The editors then report on them, [and] once they hit the streets, they take on a life of their own.”

Every fall and spring, designers present their newest lines at New York Fashion Week for large audiences of bloggers, marketers, retailers, celebrities and other fashion-minded folk.

“Trends can start as the figment of a single designer’s imagination and then spread,” says Professor Chelsea Bell who teaches the Fashion Media and Culture class for Fashion Media students at SMU.

Most people look to the runways for inspiration, or indirectly do so by shopping a designer’s line at a clothing store.

Regular people who can’t afford the couture styles seen on runways find other ways to follow trends by shopping at “fast fashion” shops like H&M and Target. Designers create lines for these stores geared toward shoppers on a smaller budget.

While the runway is a sure way for designers to get their lines initially noticed, it’s what happens after the shows that causes the trends to spread like wildfire.



Through the use of social media, trends leap from the runway onto the computers and iPhones of people worldwide.

social As if not bright enough, smart phones light up the runway. (www.mashable.com)

According to Harper’s Bazaar website, there were 671,028 tweets about fashion week this year, which is twice the number of last year.

With the prevalence of fashion blogs as well as social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, these trends are noticed by a larger demographic and then tweaked to fit individuals’ personal styles.

Bloggers often help move a look from the runway to the streets.  For instance, the crop top — an essential trend from last season that is re-occurring this season with a new twist – has been a hit with the collegiate crowd.

“Crop tops still hold their ground,” says SMUStyle blogger Michelle Knutson, who reports on trends from the runway that appear on campus. “Burberry was the most notable fashion house to carry the trend into the autumn/ winter collection, pairing them with trousers and trench coats.”

crop Crop tops hit the Christian Siriano S/S 2014 runway (www.ihaveadegreeinthis.com)

 As soon as these flirty frocks were spotted on the runway, bloggers began commenting on the look– and so it goes in the modern era of the blogosphere.

Fashion bloggers have the freedom to focus on whatever they like.  Oftentimes they post trends from the runway — but tweak the styles to show readers how to give them a more personal touch based on individual inspiration.

Agather will often choose a popular trend to spotlight with photos and ideas for how to pair the style with the unexpected.  She says she finds inspirations “all over the place.”  “I get inspiration from everything – magazines, movies, art blogs, Pinterest.”



Trends are an essential aspect of the fashion world, and companies in the industry rely on the anticipating trends accurately to succeed.

Recently, the practice of something known as “trend forecasting” has been been used more and more by big names in fashion.

One high-profile trend forecasting company, WSGN, says in a mission statement on the company website that it “provides fashion and design businesses with the intelligence to drive commercially successful products and services.”

Trends typically forecasted could be anything from clothing colors that will be in style to materials – say, for instance, tweed — that are sure to be in high demand in the upcoming season.

Trend forecasters follow retail trends and prepare information on which trends are on the rise and on the way down for their clients.

WSGN’s website provides viewers with the latest information from New York Fashion Week including new designers and retail openings.

“[These] companies . . . predict future trends by analyzing past and current trends and keeping up with cultural and societal events,” Bell says.



While such services are a common practice within the fashion industry, you don’t have to jump on every trend to call yourself a fashionista.

“I don’t believe in absolutely adapting to trends,” Knutson says.  “I find trend forecasting to be a bit lackadaisical in its creativity — scouting future trends to copy them before they even unveil themselves.”

Many fashion watchers say it’s also important to choose clothing that suits your own unique taste and style.

“I am personally concerned more with personal style than with trends,” Bell says.  “I only adopt trends that fit within the realm of my style, that I feel will span several seasons.” 

Yet regardless of whether you’re a slave to trends or follow your own style muse, when it comes to fashion, trends aren’t going anywhere.  They’re inevitable because of the nature of the fashion industry and the way styles spread when people become inspired by what they see.

Designers will always look to see where trends originate so that they can decide whether to follow or adapt them.

To quote the fabulous Alexander McQueen: “As a designer, you’ve always got to push yourself forward; you’ve always got to keep up with the trends or make your own trends.  That’s what I do.” (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/trends.html#Us4mpX8qR230K3fq.99)


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