Photo Credit: Vogue USA Magazine

Why do fashion trends eventually come back?

Vintage looks from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s often make triumphant returns to the fashion industry, updated with a contemporary spin. These fads first make their appearance on celebrity or high-fashion runways, where they are accompanied by hefty price tags and exclusive labels. Nevertheless, with the help of social media, these designs are becoming more accessible as they acquire popularity and eventually become mainstream trends.

The way we see and interact with fashion has been greatly influenced by platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. The rise of social media platforms for self-expression has made fashion more about expressing one’s individuality than in the past. People can express themselves freely on social media, transforming their accounts into arenas where new styles are born. By making clothing more accessible to a wider range of people, the democratization of fashion promotes a wider range of styles and helps revive older trends.

Economic theories, such as George Taylor’s “Hemline Theory,” which connected economic conditions to fashion trends, help to explain the cyclical nature of fashion, particularly the return of previous patterns. The contemporary spin, however, is the prioritization of long-term sustainability and individual style above transient fashion trends. As a result of the epidemic, more people are choosing to invest in high-quality, classic items that represent their taste rather than follow fleeting trends.

An important factor in the revival of these trends is the influence of social media. It provides a venue where the distinctiveness of old styles or aesthetics from a certain period may be cherished, notwithstanding their initial disapproval. Many people now have a way to interact with others who share their interests, whether it’s music or dress from a bygone era. This has created communities that support and celebrate these trends without passing judgment. For example, fans of Fleetwood Mac’s music often pay homage to the style of that period via their clothing choices, which may be seen as a kind of personal style appropriation.

Today, “what’s in” is basically whatever makes one feel confident and joyful since individuality is king in the fashion industry. By giving users the power to choose their own style and share it with the world, social media not only encourages but also amplifies this uniqueness. Consequently, we have a fashion setting that embraces both the present and the past, valuing individuality while also recognizing the enduring power of style. 

Essentially, the ever-changing world of fashion, driven by social media, demonstrates that while trends may come and go, the universal need to express oneself and communicate via clothing is ever-present.

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