on trends

N°1 Fall 10 , Anja Cronberg

"Trend" has become an adjective and has gradually lost its meaning. It is, however, a concept inherent to fashion, to be tamed in ten points.

1 Trends are as old as fashion itself. In the 14th Century, when fashion is said to have been invented, they were set by royalty and spread via depictions in letters as well through word of mouth and travelers bringing fashion dolls as gifts to their hosts.

2 Trends are the heart of Paris glamour. In the 17th Century Paris established itself as the fashion capital of the world. At that time the textile industry was the main trendsetter, although both seamstresses and tailors did what they could for the innovation of fashion. By this time trends were spread via illustrated fashion posters, which traveled the world, ensuring that all those who counted were always aware of what was going on in the fashion capital.

3 Trends are desire in print. The first fashion magazine was published in Frankfurt at the end of the 16th Century, and soon the dissemination of trends was in the hands of the printed press. Vogue, the world’s perhaps foremost fashion magazine and trend diffuser, was started in America in1892 by Arthur Baldwin Turnure. Conde Nast took it over in 1909.

4 Trends are capricious and often surprising. Yet still people try to predict the future. The amount of trend forecasters and cool hunters available for hire for major companies and organizations appears to be growing by the day. No longer gypsies with crystal balls and grannies with tealeaves, these sharp-suited folks know that their services could help earn their clients vast sums of money.

5 Trends are integral to the capitalist system. New trends fuel our desire to fit in, stand out and always move with our times.

6 Trends are essential to the concept of taste. Tastemakers in our culture, self-appointed or otherwise, often take it upon themselves to judge a trend as good or bad. A good trend can with time sometimes be elevated to the status of ‘style’ which means that it has passed into the realm of ‘timelessness’, i.e. the epitome of chic – see for example the LBD. A bad trend is forever banished to the purgatory of fashion – who today wants to recollect wearing von Dutch, or Juicy Couture, or Ugg boots, or mullets, or flared pants? The list is endless.

7 Trends are cultural epidemics. They have a beginning, middle and an end. What on earth, for example, has happened to all the leg warmers in the world?

8 Trends are cyclical. Remember the shoulder pad? From a sign of power and success in the era of Wall Street and Dynasty, it became, in time, the most embarrassing accoutrement ever. And then, perhaps not so surprisingly, it resurfaced on the catwalk two decades later to much fanfare. Onwards, forwards to the street and the masses, tipping point reached, and now it sits yet again in the purgatory of fashion.

9 Trends are often stolen from the well meaning and genuine. Take the mohawk for example, born in modern times on disgruntled punks, it spent a brief life cycle as a symbol of revolt, only to fall out of favour with the rebellious and be relegated to the limbo of tastelessness, simply to be revived a few decades later in an ironic way.

10 Trends are powerful reminders that cultural attitudes are always in flux. When in the 1950’s the humble denim pant, with a little help from James Dean, went from being a garment strictly for workers to a garment associated with freedom and subversion, few were those who could predict that it, three decades later, were to be found on all from soccer moms to politicians to it-girls to, well, everybody.