Will Micro-Trends Ruin The Fashion Industry?

Words by Dominic Bramley-Carr

In the fast-paced social media-orientated society that we live in, the way in which we consume fashion has become fickler and more prone to change than ever before. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that much of our fashion inspiration comes from apps like TikTok and Instagram. These platforms are simply designed around the sharing of large amounts of short, easily digestible content, so that trends are bound to spring up and fall off the map quickly. Micro-trends largely stem from these platforms and tend to last between a couple of months to a year at most. Many of these trends will be easily recognisable to most of us, whether that’s because of the amount of time spent scrolling, or perhaps the high street brands that have adopted them. Some of the biggest 2021 micro-trends you might have seen include cottage-core, coconut girl, dark academia and avant basic, whether that be with Primark’s swirly skirts or the popularity of crochet tops in summer.

The prevalence of micro-trends is predominately tied in with influencer culture on apps like TikTok and Instagram due to the idolisation of the influencers who promote these trends. Popular creators post in a certain piece or style and blow up, and with that, so does the trend. The increased normality of documenting outfits on social media encourages people to follow these micro-trends because of the pressure to have new looks to share often. This does mean however, that you end up frequently buying different pieces to keep up, which is expensive as well as unsustainable.

It is however hard to know which trends will actually stick around and which will burn out. Generally, it’s important to consider versatility. Could that top be worn with more than the one pair of flares you have in mind? Would it work for more than that one themed club night? Often, the trends that die quickly are the ones centred around bold, colourful, patterns that people get sick of or don’t want to be seen wearing multiple times. This isn’t to say you should avoid bold patterns by any means, but, before purchasing, make sure it’s something you can see yourself wearing often and try not to buy too many pieces with the same pattern. You also need to consider the materials that items are being made in, as to whether they’ll actually last you. A number of micro-trends begin with more sustainable high-end brands like the House of Sunny Hockney dress and Paloma Wool’s popular knitwear, but they also come with much higher price points. These trends then filter down to brands like Shein and Primark which provide the same aesthetic for less money, but at a cost of worse quality whilst being produced under unsustainable practices.

There is, however, a developing focus on quality over quantity in some consumers, as shown in the popularity of capsule wardrobes. Capsule wardrobes work on the premise of a limited number of pieces, typically 50 or fewer, that consist of good quality versatile clothes that can be put together for any occasion and last a long time. This has often been said to be a way to combat fast fashion. Whilst it is a very viable and sensible approach to shopping, with brands like Boohoo releasing 500+ products every week at low prices, it isn’t something that most people will consider. Alongside the environment that social media has created around fashion, fast fashion brands inevitably have a major pull to young people. But will this increased focus on micro-trends ruin the fashion industry? If we’re talking about designer fashion brands, they, and their customers, are typically less susceptible to rapid changes and fads and so will most likely remain reasonably unchanged. However, if we’re looking at typical consumer fashion, it seems likely that many brands will continue to adapt to produce more items rapidly in an effort to stay on top of trends. There will also most likely be a split in terms of different brands levels of commitment to sustainability and, as such, the different customers they attract. Whether or not these changes will ruin the fashion industry I believe, is dependent on its consumers.