Deciphering Fashion’s Carousel: Unraveling the Mystery of Trendsetting

Trends come and go, and come around again.   Who the heck gets to decide what’s on trend?  I mean, really?  Let’s take a deep dive into this topic that has never quite made sense to me.

A little history lesson:

Centuries ago, fashion trends were designed to show the world that you had extra money, lots of leisure time, and plenty of both to waste. Interestingly, the original influencer was the king or queen, and the Instagram of the day, was the royal court.
Trends began with whatever bloody well pleased the royalty — and following it meant you were among the elite by keenly observing and mirroring their tastes.

What influences a trend in today’s world?

Fashion houses?  Well…They used to.
Decades ago,  design houses in Paris, Milan, and London orchestrated how a trend would be born cultivated, and ultimately end, Sounds posh and elitist?   Yes, indeed.  Fast forward to just about a decade ago.   Thanks to the growth of the Internet, this is no longer true.

Who, then, is responsible?

Short answer, Social media.  Instagram, Twitter, Tick Tok, Snapchat, and a growing list of others,  is full of influencers with an unimaginable number of people that follow them (355 million Instagram followers for Kim Kardashian).   People from the traditional music, movies and even political realms, have created sub-cultures allowing kids on the street to influence fashion forecasters.

Here’s an example, remember the athleisure trend?  Believe it or not, studies in 2018,  before COVID was in our vernacular, observed that, by 2020, around 40% of the American workforce would work from home.  As it turned out, more than 60% of Americans worked from home durning the pandemic.  Talk about serendipity.  A perfect storm that was a huge factor in the rise of the so-called athleisure trend, because people want to be comfortable at home but still be able to go to a cafe and be selfie ready!

A ‘trendy’ color works in a similar fashion.  Pantone worksyears in advance to identify social shifts that influence how consumers view color.  A great example is the color brown. Twenty years ago, the hue might have conjured images of dirt and earth; but now, thanks to the “coffee culture”, its synonymous with luxury.   

Here’s how a fashion idea ultimately gets to your closet :

  • Industry trend forecasters use information to analyze and predict trends up to 10 years into the future.
  • Data from trend forecasters and in-house designers are combined and a collection of 30–120 pieces is designed by fashion houses.
  • A sample range and photographs oe sketches called “lookbooks” are rolled out for fashion buyers at stores like Saks, Harrods, Bergdorf Goodman etc.
  • Collections are released as Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, twice a year during fashion shows that are held six months in advance of the season.
  • Influencers start wearing the items provided to them by designers. 
  • Based on what’s trending, fashion buyers decide what to stock and how much of it, in their stores.  Chains like H&M and Zara subscribe to the same trend forecasts. They then translate trends from the runway into much lower-priced versions. “Fast fashion”
  • As the buyer for my boutique, I attend trade shows where the new lines are introduced.   Most of the people attending the shows are small businesses from across the country.  The trends are usually pretty obvious when I enter the show.  I see a predominate color or silhouette in almost every designer’s booth.
  • Items that I previewed and ordered for my store will arrive to my store in 6-9 months.

One final thought.  If you are a client, or are familiar with my fashion philosophy, you know I advocate that trends are suggestions.  Each woman should live her own style.  Whatever make her feel powerful and beautiful IS trending in her personal style.

If you have personal style questions our would like a consultation, contact me at

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