The constant injection of influencer opinions and poorly-made fast fashion has led to a wardrobe of confusion. Micro-trends cycle weekly with the help of platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, but because they are almost exclusively headed by white influencers, these trends fail to incorporate all ages, lower income groups, and plus-size communities. It is becoming harder to pinpoint which fashion trends will later define us. As we move further into the third stretch of twenty-first century decades, we must ask ourselves: how will we recognize our ten-year spans? Is it too early to tell, or has the insurgence of social media brought the downfall of decade iconography?
In order for influencers to remain relevant, not only do they have to look the part, but they must also sell “the look” to their audience. In a constant battle over followers and sponsorships, influencers must be constantly introducing new ideas. Thus, the flurry of micro-trends emerges. There are currently thousands of predominantly young, white, and thin influencers curating a look they hope will set themselves apart from their competitors. New trends emerge weekly, and the old ones die just as quickly. The “clean girl” look was a relatively new trend that included slicked back hair, white tees, and hoop earrings. It was a desirable aesthetic, started by white influencers, that was swiftly called out for mimicking cultural styles of black and latino women. The trend died within a few weeks, and online shopping carts full of hair gel and hoops were abandoned just as quickly.
Fashion has often been described as cyclical, but it would be better described as a coiling spring. As time goes on, fashion trends loop forward. To say a trend is new is not to say it hasn’t already been done but has been reinvisioned.
“Vintage,” which refers to anything created between 1965-2000, is in. When trends cycle weekly, maintaining the most popular look becomes impossible. The resurgence of vintage has become a timeless solution, likely because it is sustainable, thriftable, and replicable. It is a subversion of the modern coil, which continues to shrink, and provides stability in an ever-changing world of fashion.
Concerns arise when our current timeline eventually evolves into “vintage.” Will the 2020s and beyond produce recognizable, iconic fashion? Moreover, will our current clothing be able to survive the weathering of time?
Fast fashion has contributed to discourse about environmental change, and vintage is an alternative. According to The Business Research Company, notoriously brutal fast fashion factories owned by companies like Shein, Uniqlo, and Urban Outfitters will rake in nearly 100 billion dollars combined in revenue this year. One could argue that these companies are simply producing an equivalent supply for the rising demand; a demand once controlled by major designers but is now in the hands of social media influencers.
Voyeuristic self-presentation is essential in the world of social media, and fashion markets are susceptible to persuasion. More often, we find ourselves saying, just wear what you want, and if you're lucky enough it’ll be the next trend tomorrow – if it's not already halfway out the door.
Art by Dizzy Starfie