The fashion world talks a lot about trends – it's the axis on which it rotates.
Magazines and websites (this one included) are forever writing about trends that must be adopted if one wants to look current – this season it's all slogan tees, dark florals and the colour pink. But what makes something a trend?
The first thing to acknowledge is that the concept of a trend, or the idea of changing your look regularly, has been around for a long time. The idea first came to the fore in the 14th century when rotating fashion trends were used by the echelons of society as a way of displaying their wealth, success and status. If you were in a position to buy new clothes every few months or even weeks, you clearly had ample money to burn. The lower classes followed suit in a bid to prove that they were close enough to observe what the queen or similar liked or didn't like.
Rihanna wearing Dior. Getty Images
Not much has changed since then; we've just swapped things round. Rather than a king or queen, we now look up to celebrities or street-style influencers who share their latest looks freely on Instagram. What they wear is then replicated by the masses who want to look up to date and part of the style gang. No longer are catwalks the sole inspiration for mainstream trends; more often than not they now respond to public demand. Designers are forced to be reactive in a way that's never been required before – the See Now Buy Now approach is a clear example of that.
The next step is for that look to be adopted by a more high-profile figure – at the moment this tends to be a Hadid. Around about that time the high street will take note and begin replicating that piece for the masses. Today, it tends to be a person rather than the catwalk that dictates trends.
But what makes a fashion influencer choose to start wearing a certain covetable piece or look? Fashion is a reflection of what's going on around us – politics, economics and culture. Trends are about tapping into a zeitgeist; they define a spirit or mood. Today's most popular designers are good at reading this – Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Balenciaga for example, who has disrupted the mould with his dystopian, aggy streetwear. This reflected a mood – an air of anti-establishment and disenchantment that resonated with editors and celebrities.
The same could be said for Dior's Maria Grazia Chiuri. Her romantic, yet empowered, aesthetic came at a time when a new wave of feminism was rising. There can't be many women who wouldn't want to wear her 'We should all be feminists' T-shirts, which have already been sported by Rihanna, Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman. But this is also why several designers often end up doing the same thing – whether it's a certain print or colour. We associate certain aesthetic details with what's going on around us. Next season's love of the colour red, for example, has long been associated with strength, optimism, boldness and passion. It is a symbol of how we want to feel in a time when the world feels a little dark.
Kendall Jenner on the Fendi catwalk, Bella Hadid in Paris and Gigi Hadid on the MaxMara catwalk. Getty Images
It's important to remember that following trends blindly lands you in fashion-victim hot water. A truly stylish man or woman will be attuned to what's going on around them, but will incorporate the pieces or styles that they know will work for them and feel good to wear – authenticity is key here.
We also know that the fashion world would not survive if everyone wore the same thing every season, which is why you should never feel inadequate if a magazine tells you a certain denim style or shoe is out. It needs you to feel sartorially lacking for it to thrive and make money. At Harper's Bazaar we're firmly of the belief that fashion is about providing consumers with choices, not preaching what you shouldn't wear.
More than ever, fashion is there to serve and inspire, not dictate.
Via Harper's Bazaar UK