5 Stages of Fashion Cycle and How to Understand Them22.11.2021
Fashion trends change all the time. This is known as the fashion cycle.
What is a Fashion Trend?
Fashion trends are when a certain item, silhouette, color or other look becomes popular. A trend or fad can be influenced by many factors, including famous celebrity outfits, fashion designers, fashion merchandising companies, and textile manufacturers. Fashion trends are cyclical. They go through five stages that begin with the introduction of a trend and end with its obsolescence. After a trend has reached its peak, it will start to lose popularity and become unfashionable. It then enters the end of the cycle where consumers and the fashion industry reject it. The cyclical nature fashion means that the trend you reject may return to the cycle.
What is the Fashion Cycle?
A fashion cycle is a natural process by which a trend in fashion is introduced, becomes mainstream, then declines and is finally rejected at the obsolescence stage. Here’s a breakdown of each stage in a fashion cycle.
This is the stage where the new style makes its debut in the fashion world. This can happen as part of a new haute couture fashion design, a well-known model’s outfit, or a calculated marketing campaign by a manufacturer or agency. This style is often only available in limited quantities, and can be found at very high prices.
This stage, also known as “fashion acceptance”, is when a new fashion style gains momentum and traction in fashion. It officially receives the “trend” label. The rise stage is when more fashion trendsetters and leaders wear outfits that incorporate this idea. This increases consumer demand. This acceptance by fashion influencers has led to more retailers carrying the trend.
The peak stage is when the trend reaches full saturation among the general public and everyday consumers start to wear it. The trend will be recognized by most retailers and will be readily available for mass production, particularly at lower prices.
The trend will be in decline one day. This is when the popularity of the trend will start to turn consumers off, who desire unique and fashion-forward outfits.
Obsolescence is when a trend is no longer in fashion. It is considered obsolete and out of fashion by mainstream fashion wearers who have moved onto newer trends in the increase or introduction stages. Obsolescence does not mean that a trend that has been rejected will never return to the fashion cycle. This cycle is constantly in a state of repetition. It brings back “old fashions” to keep them moving forward in fashion. The life cycle of jeans waistlines is an example: High-waisted jeans were most popular in the 1940s, late 1970s, early 1980s, 2010s, and again in the 2020s. Low-waisted jeans, however, saw peak popularity in the 1960s, late 1990s, and early 2000s.
How to use the Fashion Cycle in the Design Process
Fashion cycle knowledge can prove to be an invaluable resource for aspiring fashion designers. These are some ways you can use your knowledge about the fashion cycle to enhance your design process.
#1 Instead of focusing on trends, focus on your needs
Burnout can result from spending too much time trying to find the next trend. Fashion moves quickly. Sometimes, a fashion style can change in a matter of months. Instead of worrying about fashion trends, consider “filling needs”. For example, oversized coats may still be in style but there might not be enough demand for slim, comfortable coats. Think about your fashion needs and how your designs can appeal to them. Your fashion line will be more authentic to you than one that is influenced only by trends.
#2 Change is normal
Your design may be a big trend but once it reaches its peak, it will start to fall and eventually be rejected. It is important to understand that obsolescence happens with all trends and not just yours. You and your designs will change throughout your career as fashion changes are constant.
#3 Follow your instincts
You may decide to discontinue a style that is becoming out of fashion. Consider making a particular silhouette or design a staple in your collection, instead of trying to catch the next fashion trend. If you want to make a timeless garment that people love, it is important to listen to your instincts and not follow the fashion trends.
Diane von Furstenberg, the iconic designer, and her signature wrap dress are a great example of how staying true to your designs can lead to long-term success. In the 1970s, the designer’s signature wrap dress received critical acclaim. This was decades after Charles James invented the silhouette. Furstenberg added her own twist to the dress by adding a collar and lengthening the sleeves to make it a versatile, elegant silhouette that can be worn on a date or at work. Furstenberg made this dress a staple in her collection and it is still a fashion favorite decades later.