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Blane’s Style Files: The Trend Cycle

The trend cycle is a term used to describe the phenomenon of styles returning. Traditionally, the trend cycle has thought to have been around 25 to 30 years long, with trends re-emerging about this long after the original peak in their popularity. Recently though, websites like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar have reported on the return of ‘Indie Sleaze’ – a trend that is only around 10 years old.

Is the trend cycle really getting shorter?

Around 2019, fashion magazines started picking up on the return of Y2K fashion. The style, which started in the mid-to-late-90s and continued well into the new millennium, is most notoriously characterised by denim (especially low-rise jeans), shiny silver accessories, and pastel, frosted makeup. Y2K style is often interpreted as a reaction to 80s maximalism being blended with societal fears around the rise of technology (hence the name), blending together to create a type of digital minimalism.

The return to Y2K style has been so far reaching that it has affected more than just fashion. In fact, several of the popstars and socialites that are seen as the poster children of the time, such as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Beyoncé, have also made their return to the public eye, often with people re-examining how those stars were treated at the time, leading to the Free Britney movement and discussion about how the limelight can affect child stars like Lindsay Lohan.

These issues surrounding the most iconic public figures at the time are just as likely to be forgotten due to the severe nostalgia the trend cycle operates on. This nostalgia also allows people who lived through the original stint of the style to make content based on their real experiences – something becoming increasingly possible now that the fashions of tech-literate generations are being repeated.

This nostalgia also creates a feeling of security – a return to the “good old days” – that was desired unsurprisingly during the chaos of the pandemic.

In contrast, Indie Sleaze is dark, chaotic, and is inspired by the coke-sniffing exploits of bands like the Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, as well as models like Kate Moss and Alexa Chung. The manifestation of this is easily interpreted as a post-pandemic desire to return to the crazy music festivals of yore.

However, did the Indie Sleaze revival ever really happen? News outlet Vice reported that Indie Sleaze may never have actually made it out of the digital world and onto the street; we simply assumed that it would because of how much we’d all heard about it on TikTok.

Of course, social media is to blame for so many things these days, and the shortening of the trend cycle is almost certainly one of them. Micro-trends surrounding certain dresses and patterns (like cow-print, or that malachite patterned dress) run rife on TikTok, and anything (or anyone) can be forgotten about in a matter of seconds, all for the sake of being trendy.

This obsession with being on top of trends and trying to find new trends to participate in could easily mean we run out of styles before the end of the decade – I mean what’s next? Roman togas and gladiator helmets?!