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fashion cycle is getting shorter

The fashion cycle is getting shorter

The idea of fashion following a cycle has been around for decades, whether that is mods in the sixties to low-rise jeans in the 2000s. This idea of fashion being cyclical can be broken down into five key stages: introduction, increase, peak, decline and obsolescence.

Whilst the timeline for trends to re-emerge is disputed, one suggestion is a rule of thumb of 20 years. This is the time it takes for the trend to go from the obsolescence stage and then back to in-fashion once more.

This is certainly driven by modern cultures, such as hit TV shows but what is interesting is the discovery that the fashion cycle seems to be getting shorter. Is this a change of attitudes? Is it a result of the way we use technology? It is difficult to say with confidence but we do believe there is one key factor that is shortening the fashion cycle…fast fashion.

So why is fast fashion causing this cycle to get shorter?

A stylist recently stated that people are now buying five times as many clothes as they would have done 40 years ago. However, this isn’t translating to regularly wearing the clothes in our wardrobes, with figures suggesting we only wear roughly 10% to 20% of the clothes we own.

Availability of clothing

The simple fact is the availability of clothing has rocketed in the past decade, with numerous fast-fashion retailers appearing online each year. With such competition, there is always a discount code, free return offer or sale happening and so people work their way through a particular fashion cycle quicker.

After all, with clothes being so cheap to make and sell then as soon as a trend loses traction it will quickly get lost behind the next big thing.

Social media

It is no surprise that the shortening of the fashion cycle happened around the time that social media has really taken off. Prior to social media being the marketing channel of choice, you would have to wait to see what celebrities were wearing.

Now, we all post pictures of days out, new outfits and parties we are attending. As you would expect, there is a drive to not be seen wearing the same thing and quite simply, this speeds up the cycle of fashion.

The simple answer is that trends will likely continue to speed up and we will go through the five-stage cycle at a faster speed. It can be argued that this pattern won’t be able to last, partly because there will come a point when fashion won’t be able to change any quicker.

Furthermore, with a focus on climate change and sustainability then we could potentially see a drop in the demand for fast fashion. Could this slow down the fashion cycle or simply switch it to pre-loved clothing? We will find out more in the coming months and years.

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