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Y2K fashion? That’s hot. Bringing back the ‘90s like you’re Pamela Anderson? Absolutely fly. Then there’s the totally tubular puffy sleeved and bright colored tops of the ‘80s, the rad ‘70s prints and silhouettes, and the Twiggy-inspired makeup of the ‘60s all coming into play. How are companies supposed to latch on when there’s no single decade coming back into trend, but rather all of them at once? 

Early 2000’s has been probably the largest influence among adolescents recently, with the later McBling era being grouped into the stylings. The once tacky styles and prints have been revitalized, with statements like skirts over jeans being foregone to highlight mini skirts and crop tops. As with any retro trend, rose colored glasses are put on as to how fashion looked then; the decade gets a facelift, and suddenly out of date gets updated. 

It makes sense that the early aughts got attention recently; the rule of thumb is that every twenty years, trends become “vintage” and make a comeback. Considering it was around 2020 when the early 2000’s trend first latched on, this works perfectly in the timeline. 

However, it seems the ‘90s are already back again, even though they were supposedly first in trend about a decade ago. At the time of the first resurgence, neutrals became more popular in response to the extremes of the previous trends; it was jelly shoes, American Apparel tennis skirts, leather jackets, and every teenager saying that only ‘90s kids like them remember. Now with Hulu’s new show about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee (as well as a popular TikTok filter made to emulate her) and already popular bands like Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins having old songs trend again, people are simultaneously growing nostalgic once again for the nasty nineties.

The ‘80s also had their moment, particularly a few years ago with Stranger Things and just like the ‘90s, music that stamped the time resurging in popularity. It seems we still see a hangover effect from this small boom (which again diverts from the prototypical timeline) with baggy mom jeans, and the newer trends particularly in the South of bright puffy sleeved tops that are reminiscent of your mom’s taffeta prom dress, yet more sophisticated. 

With the ‘70s, it seems everyone has always chased this decade, wishing themselves to be transported back to a decade they probably never experienced. Older shows and films like That ‘70s Show and Dazed and Confused already were drenched in nostalgia, and it only grows the further we age away from it, where it can become more and more consolidated into what we want to see. Bellbottoms and flowery, long skirts with flowy bell sleeved tops and sundresses are all the rage this spring and summer. 


The point is, it seems that unlike most trends, we are in an age of many simultaneous “popular” looks. Usually, there is one or two big aesthetics people latch onto, and some more underground, alternative looks. Now, many styles all reside side by side at the top of the fashion pyramid. And with fast fashion a main component of style, people can switch up their choice at any given time. Just as the ‘90s brought us pencil thin eyebrows, it also brought rapid production to the clothing market, leading to more affordable clothing; the only downside was that quality in turn suffered. That being said, companies like Shein, valued at a staggering 100 billion dollars, can produce a new decade’s worth of styles in a week and deem them “out of trend” the next. Neither producer or consumer can keep up with the always rotating styles, leading to about 92 million tons of textiles thrown away a year. This waste and environmentally-unfriendly production accounts for about 10% of carbon emissions a year. This damage, however, is all but forgotten in the name of chasing trends. Remember when there was talk of twee coming back? 2014 Tumblr? Social media allows for anything to get popular guerilla-style, versus the usual prodding by the fashion industry. 


This oversaturation of trends is making the term “trend” nearly pointless. There’s no longer 2-4 seasons a year in fashion, it’s at least 52 now. Not only are they trying to keep up with people’s demands, they’re also trying to predict the next one as well and influence buyers to shift their styles yet again to favor their new design. Shein actually uses Google Trends as a marker of what might be coming down the pike trend-wise. Further, the company can produce clothes at hard to beat prices due to their low overhead cost, leading to buyers seeing their closets as disposable rather than treasured. 

What does that mean for the consumer? In some ways, it’s actually a bit freeing; often with fashion trends, body types are grouped into what’s “in.” The ‘70s favors the hourglass shape, while the ‘80s wants a more athletic body type, the ‘90s loves the heroin chic chick, and the ‘00s is all about an inverted triangle shape. But unlike a wardrobe, body types cannot be switched out at the drop of a hat, or really by practically any means other than non-natural ways. The danger of trends becoming monoliths in society is that not everyone can attain the basic building blocks of how to even pull it off because it’s not always designed for alternative body types. With the growth of the body positivity movement, more trends are becoming accessible to those it was formerly denied to. And, there’s more of a market space for those who need alternative fittings. 

So when you’re going through your closet, looking for what to discard and then envisioning what you’ll replace it with, try instead to work with what works for you. The lack of one single trend means that you have the freedom to lean into whatever time period you please. Rock a Victorian dress if it flatters you. It’s probably trending somewhere anyways. And always remember that carving your own style independent of what’s trending is a step towards combating the overreach of fast fashion that forces everyone into a new decade or style every other week. Stay groovy, or get jiggy with it, or wear whatever floats your boat.

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