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Understanding the cycles of fashion

Updated: Aug 13

We all know fads and trends come and go quicker than the seasons. Some stay around and become fashion staples, and others go quicker than they appeared. Understanding the cycles of fashion can be the key to staying up to date and understanding the market.


There are a few different types of fashion cycles. The first is ‘the flop’, this is when a trend has low acceptance. This means it might have an extremely short life cycle. It could also mean it becomes a trend in alternative fashion, or is popular with more of a niche group.


The next type is ‘trending cycle’. This cycle has a shorter life cycle, but is usually pretty popular. It accumulates a lot of buzz in a shorter amount of time. Things like this are often seen in fast fashion, or styles influenced by celebrities at the time.

‘Normal cycles’ are the usual trends that may come with seasons, or runway styles. They last for a moderate amount of time. Sometimes they may be adapted to return as a renewed style or trend. Then there is the ‘classic cycle’ which is styles that stay around, or are repeated frequently within fashion.


It’s important to acknowledge the difference between fashion cycles, and staples in the industry. Staples are things that will always be in fashion (sometimes in varying styles) such as denim. Cycles are pieces and styles that will come and go. Having a good amount of both in a collection is a good way to go. This can make it feel up to date and current, but something that can be long-lasting.


The usual time an older trend reappears in fashion is about 20 to 30 years later. Often when trends return, they are altered to be made more current or modern. But other trends such as the classic stripes, or polka dots will stay the same. In more recent times, trends have expired more quickly. Some trends lasting only a season or two. This is why it’s important to decide whether to cater to a current trend or to make something more sustainable.

There are many things that can influence what trends appear and come back. In the early 1900s it was events such as the war, and the economic events going on. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s a huge influence was music and it becoming more popular as the media industry was booming.


In more recent years, celebrity culture and social media trends have been a big influence on fashion trends as. Staying up to date on what is current, and getting the most attention is a good way to stay on top of what trends are coming next.


It’s good to assess whether you want to have quick means of production to cater to quick, short-lived trends. Or if you would want to produce classic pieces that still feel current and on trend, but will be a closet staple. Assessing the trends, and mixing that with the staple trends that come with every season, is a great way to get ideas for a collection. Elemntz offers mentoring for brands trying to find their audience, and push their brand further.


Written by: Abby Ashenhurst

Digital content executive @ Elemntz