Why Does Fashion Repeat Itself?

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Ever hear your mate say she’s not throwing away that pair of old boots in case it comes back into fashion? She’s not wrong. History repeats itself everywhere in art, music and – yes – fashion. Trends in fashion almost always find a way to repeat themselves. But have you ever wondered why does fashion repeat itself?

Do Fashion Trends Repeat?

If you look at magazines and on Instagram, most clothing we see today is a version of something people have worn before. Take the popular high waisted mom jeans, double-breasted jackets as seen on the Hadid sisters, cropped sweaters or the hair scrunchie we’re seeing everywhere at the moment. Watch any old episode of the American sitcom ‘Friends’ to see how these fashion trends definitely aren’t new.

Or think about the fall of skinny jeans, which are now deemed unfashionable but were a crucial wardrobe staple a mere 5 years ago. Everywhere we look, there are signs of trends reemerging, much like a Phoenix out of the forgotten ashes of fashion yesteryear.

But why does fashion remerge? When does it happen? And – perhaps most importantly, why?

Why does fashion repeat itself?

Why Does Fashion Repeat Itself?

There are several reasons as to why we see a resurgence of fashion trends.

Reason 1 – Fashion is a Young Person’s Game

Typically, trends tend to come back around after 20 or 30 years; as fashion is typically a young person’s game, it’s not surprising that trends tend to come back for new generations of teens, who would not have been around the first time the trend was popular.

Reason 2 – A Sure Thing

Fashion designers bring back old trends because they’re known to have been popular at some point. That means they have a high chance of being popular again; it saves designers time, money and effort having to create something entirely from scratch.

Reason 3 – Retro is Fashionable

“Retro” is in itself a trend, so anything that was once popular or deemed fashionable can often be worn today and still appear cool – as long as it isn’t too soon (i.e. within the 20-year bracket), in which case the item will still be seen as unfashionable and old news.

Reason 4 – Pop Culture

TV shows and films that also have lasting fandoms also continue to be relevant in pop culture’s landscape, meaning any fashion seen on them can often still be deemed stylish.

Reason 5 – Fashion Cycle

Fashion theorist and historian, James Laver, believes repeating fashions can be explained by a system called ‘Laver’s Law’. This law states that when a trend is fashionable, it is ‘smart’. One year before, it is ‘daring’. 20 years after, it is ‘ridiculous. So in 50 years, it will come back into style. Laver believed this law was applicable to all forms of art, not just fashion. But he also believes there is usually a purpose for a certain style returning. Take shoulder pads as an example. They were inspired by American footballers, made trendy for women in the 30s during World War II when women could finally work outside the home. It was then seen again in the 80s when there were further women-related movements. And today, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, the resurgence of the shoulder pad was almost predictable.

Reason 6 – The Economy

Of course, the state of the economy will always have an impact on trends seen in fashion. When the economy is struggling, fashion struggles; people turn to longer-lasting wardrobe staples or investment pieces to last. The less practical the trend, and the more flashy it appears, the higher the probability that the economy is doing well.

Reason 7 – The Environment

Fast fashion is increasing in pace due to social media. Everyone sees your outfit the second you’ve worn it; for the fashion-conscious, that means this used outfit soon becomes obsolete and old news. So fast fashion has been created to meet the dizzying pace that social media is setting for fashion influencers.

But environmental arguments point out that fast fashion is having a hugely negative impact on the world. With this in mind, some brands are attempting to source materials ethically and provide charitable payments that help to counteract some of the impact their clothing is having.

Reason 8 – Inspiration

Fashion designers tend to bring back old trends they loved themselves as youngsters. Many may have felt inspired by certain trends to follow a career path into fashion, and bringing that style back can be a great way to pay homage to it, as well as bring it to a fresh crowd for them to enjoy as they won’t have seen it the first time around.

You can see these trends everywhere; take the 90s grunge aesthetic. Grunge fashion is an easy style to replicate and is both comfortable and practical; it can often be seen on celebrities.

Reason 9 – Timeless

Some trends never go out of style. Take Coco Chanel; her revolutionary clothing can still be seen as it was created in the 20s on women today, basically unchanged. Her items never go out of style because of their timeless construction. The style of a classic Chanel suit isn’t restricted to a single time period. It manages to look modern and professional regardless of the year.

Reason 10 – Reinvention

Designers love taking a classic piece and putting a modern twist on it. It’s fun, likely to succeed and far less hassle than coming up with a design from scratch.

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1 Comment

  1. Sattaruddin on May 10, 2022 at 7:54 pm

    I like modeling

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