How does a trend emerge – and why do trends keep coming back?

How does a trend emerge – and why do trends keep coming back?

Who really says what’s happening now? And how do trends prevail? A fashion researcher has answers — and explains why so many things in fashion make a comeback at some point.

The carrot pants of the 80s, the thin eyebrows of the 90s or the ballerina flats of the 2000s: every trend comes back at some point. No matter how unfashionable a style once was, at some point it will be rediscovered and, naturally, labeled as “in” again.

But why does this happen? And how does a fashion trend actually emerge? Kristin Hahn, professor of fashion theory and studies at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, knows this. The prerequisite for a look to become a trend is acceptance by a wide portion of the population, says Hahn. So, when many people imitate a style, it becomes a trend. It disappears when acceptance of the respective look decreases again among the general population. So far, so logical.

Trends emerge on stage, on social media or in the classroom

“A trend wouldn’t be a trend if it lasted forever,” says Hahn. Since people are always yearning for something new, even more beautiful, even better, trends are characterized by short duration.

But before the general public can imitate a style, someone has to demonstrate it. Hahn calls these people opinion leaders. They could be celebrities, for example. An excellent example of this is Kim Kardashian: as soon as she chose cycling shorts as her personal must-have a few years ago, there were hardly any women left who considered themselves aware of trends. wore cycling shorts.

But a trend can also emerge on a small scale, for example in a school class. In the hit series “Gossip Girl”, class girl Blair Waldorf wears white tights and hair bands – and the other girls imitate her. In the classroom cosmos, they are the general population.

Kristin Hahn teaches fashion theory in Berlin. Photo: Macromedia University of Applied Sciences

Although trends were clearly dictated by the upper class, today it is not so easy anymore. From the 1960s onwards, fashion trends were also influenced from the bottom up, explains Hahn. The designers were inspired by so-called subcultures, that is, groups such as punks.

Fashion shows what we want

Digital technologies also play an important role in the development of current trends, says Hahn. You can Google what’s trending right now or find out by looking at your Instagram feed. At the same time, everyone can share the looks they find cool and, with the right reach, become trendsetters themselves.

But why are so many trends always a trip to the past? “Fashion always reflects the longing for a certain zeitgeist of the past,” says Hahn. After the Second World War, looks reminiscent of Baroque and Rococo came into fashion, that is, eras characterized by splendor and lightness. People wanted to forget the war years full of deprivations. However, it is impossible to predict how quickly trends will return and how long they will last. According to Hahn, the resurgence of trends does not follow any specific pattern.

By Franziska Wessel

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