Who Decides What’s Trendy?

Within a few weeks, an item that’s seen on the runway can be appropriated by a mass retailer, redesigned and tweaked, and sold in a New York store in under three weeks.

But this doesn’t explain how trends become trends. Why do only some features of runway fashion become popular, while others fall to the wayside?

Trends are influenced by both ends of the consumer spectrum. At one end, there’s haute couture, la creme de la creme of the sartorial elite. At the other end, there’s street fashion, what the average person chooses to wear. Between these two poles, trends emerge, from abstract ideas like “flow” and “boho” to more concrete descriptors like “cropped” and “green.”

To determine what’s likely to become a trend, high street designers rely on trend forecasting services like Stylus. These companies offer images, and qualitative and quantitative reports that identify trends more than two years out.

The most influential forecasting services only came onto the scene about two decades ago, which is why it seems that fashion’s homogeneity is relatively new. It’s also probably why vintage has become so popular, because the one-of-a-kind pieces you find are, in fact, one-of-a-kind.

If designers rely on forecasting services, then these companies, rather than the designers of mass retailers, may have the greatest sway in shaping trends.

The question remains: do trends determine the content of these services, or do these services determine the content of the trends?

**Photo courtesy of The Editorialist.

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