Micro-trends in fashion are constantly changing.
In a nutshell
- Fashion responds directly to the cultural landscape of the time. As a visual platform, fashion allows us to easily track key Cultural Currents over time, analysing how they manifest and what this says about society.
- 3 key macro-trends are currently shaping the fashion industry: gender freedom, political and social discontent, and authenticity.
- Fashion is a powerful vehicle for social change. Fashion’s ability to unite marginalised groups, communicate the desire for equality, and deliver messages about issues plaguing society has not yet been recognised by the mainstream.
One minute we’re being told we should be wearing harem pants, and the next you shouldn’t be seen dead in them. It’s near impossible to keep up with what’s in vogue at any given time.
But if we look a little deeper than these surface level trends we can see that there are actually a number of underlying influences that run through the seam of the fashion industry. These influences are constant – they may develop and adapt to reflect what is happening at the time, but season after season they are present.
At TRA we call these influences ‘Cultural Currents’ – macro-trends that are shaping society, how we express ourselves, what we think, do and buy. Cultural Currents hold a significant place in fashion, an industry that prides itself on being ahead of the curve and pushing boundaries.
Fashion responds directly to the cultural landscape of the time. As a visual platform, fashion allows us to easily track key Cultural Currents over time, analysing how they manifest and what this says about society.
Fashion and the acceptance of gender fluidity and freedom
Possibly the most significant, and obvious to see, influence on the fashion industry is that of gender. Society’s attitudes to gender at any given time define fashion, so naturally the industry pushes back to try and redefine it.
Fashion historically has been gender-rigid. In 1876 the New York Times proclaimed that women wearing trousers were “suffering from a curious disease” best treated in “hospitals for the insane”. It wasn’t until well into the 1900s that we saw fashion subverting this line of thinking – in 1913 Vogue published an illustration of a woman in Harem pants, and by the 1920s and 30s Coco Chanel was popularising trousers for women.
Since then the industry has developed its thinking further driven largely by women’s changing role in society, work, politics and the economy, the desire for greater freedom of expression, and the drive for equality.
In the last five years we’ve seen a radical shift in society’s approach to gender. The very notion of gender is being questioned – think Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair, and transgender models such as Andreja Pejić, Hari Nef, and Lea T gracing runways and high fashion advertising campaigns the world over.
We’re seeing designer labels like Rad Hourani building businesses out of unisex clothing, and London department store Selfridges recently opened a concept area called Agender. Here, shoppers are “welcomed to the future of genderless shopping” where they choose items based simply on style, colour, fit and taste, rather than by gender.