What is a fashion trend: A dance of culture & creation

When the word 'trend' comes to mind, many instantly envision the latest runway spectacle or the must-have jewellery piece of the season. However, there's more depth to trends than just the current fashion - they're deeply intertwined with our cultural sentiment, historical retrospection, and collective identities. Let's embark on a journey to explore the intricate relationships between trends and their profound connections to our culture and personal narratives.

Trends: More than just a passing phase

At their core, trends are more than just the latest fashions. They embody societal moods, collective desires, and shared experiences, reflecting both the past and current zeitgeist. Through the lens of fashion and design, they capture the spirit of specific moments in time, serving as a barometer for our ever-shifting societal norms and values.

One significant aspect of understanding trends is recognising their organic, multi-linear evolution. As noted by trend expert Maria Mackinney-Valentin, trends don't strictly adhere to a start or an end. Instead, they mutate and evolve over extended periods, moving in cyclical patterns. Some trends, as observed by trend sociologists, can take years to solidify, often starting as small, overlooked nuances that linger in the background for a long time before gaining prominence. Therefore, a comprehensive historical perspective is crucial for discerning these subtleties and forecasting impactful shifts.

Moreover, trends don't merely revolve around how they originate or their current state. The real intrigue lies in where they are heading and how they continue to transform. This insight underscores the importance for both designers and consumers to remain continually in tune with these shifts and nuances.

Drawing parallels from the past, consider the 'Flower Power' trend. Emerging from the heart of the hippie movement in mid-1960s California, 'Flower Power' wasn't just a fashion statement. At its core, it was a profound anti-war cry, emphasizing peace and love. The expansive floral designs offered a stark, beautiful contrast to the weapons and wars of the era. These designs, laden with innocence and femininity, transitioned into the 1970s, becoming visual symbols of women's liberation and their right to go topless. Historically, we can draw many parallels between the tumultuous periods of the 1960s and 1970s and our current times, marked by the oil and energy crisis, the MeToo movement, women's ongoing fight for equal pay, and the war/conflict in Europe.

Visual interpretations of the 'Flower Power' trend: An evolution from the 70s to its modern-day surreal adaptations – AI-generated photos.

Mirroring the sentiments of the past, flowers have now re-emerged as potent symbols of positive change, championing peace, love, and justice. It's therefore no surprise that in the summer of 2023, we saw a resurgence of floral designs in fashion trends.

Statement flower pendant in sterling silver, showcased on an anchor chain: A piece from Livva Østerby’s NatureVerse collection, presented on an AI-generated model.

But the transformation doesn’t stop here. The floral trend will evolve as we venture further into autumn and winter 2023, taking on a more surreal form. I’ll dive deeper into this evolution in one of my upcoming articles. 

The cultural tug of war

Culture and trends share a symbiotic relationship. While culture moulds trends, trends, in turn, shape culture. Societal values, events, and shifts drive the direction of trends, but these very trends also influence the evolution of our culture. For instance, the rise of sustainability in fashion wasn't merely a product of designers' imaginations; it was a response to global calls for eco-conscious living. In parallel, the growing popularity of sustainable fashion further promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Trends and individual identity

Trends serve as more than just fleeting fashion statements; they offer individuals a canvas to express their identity, affiliate with specific communities, or even challenge societal norms. The 'punk' fashion of the 80s, for instance, wasn't merely about sporting edgy looks. It was a bold proclamation of rebellion and non-conformity, a clarion call to resist established norms and assert one's unique perspective.

Visual interpretation of 80s 'Punk' fashion – AI-generated photo.

In many ways, fashion and design trends become powerful tools of communication. Through them, individuals can convey their beliefs, aspirations, and values without uttering a word. From the flapper dresses of the 1920s, signalling a move towards women's liberation, to the minimalist rise of Danish Design aesthetics, reflecting a desire for simplicity amidst chaos, trends encapsulate the ethos of their times while paving the way for future evolutions.

As trends evolve, so do the stories we tell about ourselves, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between our personal narratives and the fashion choices we make.

Drawing inspiration from the past while looking towards the future

Interestingly, today's fashion is often a revival and reinterpretation of past styles. Old trends frequently stage comebacks, sometimes fusing inspirations from multiple decades simultaneously. This phenomenon was strikingly evident at the Copenhagen Fashion Week for AW23. There, glimpses of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s melded together, creating a vibrant tapestry of nostalgic style. This serves as a reminder that fashion isn't just linear progress; it's a cyclical journey through time.

The Danish magazine 'TID & Tendenser', which delves into zeitgeist, lifestyle, and consumption, mentions the term 'Newstalgia'. It underscores how nostalgia is refashioned into contemporary contexts. This notion suggests that in tumultuous times, we often turn our gaze backward, seeking solace and stability in the past.

Our current era—with its challenges of the Corona pandemic, economic downturns, and the war/conflict in Europe—magnifies this sentiment. The diverse decades represented in current fashion trends echo this desire to find comfort in the past.

But such cyclical returns aren't solely about recreating old styles. They tap into our deeper desire to reconnect with certain periods, seeking comfort in the familiar, yet yearning for fresh interpretations. At its core, a trend intertwines the echoes of the past with the contemporary nuances of the present, seamlessly integrating elements from different times with today's contemporary sensibilities.

The global ripple of trends

In today's interconnected world, trends aren't geographically confined. A fashion ripple in Paris might soon become a popular wave in Tokyo or New York. This global exchange of fashion ideas fosters shared global experiences while still allowing room for local interpretations.

In the realm of fashion, it's noteworthy that many trends often germinate in the bustling hubs of youth culture and major cities. Young individuals, with their penchant for experimentation and rebellion against convention, are often the early adopters and influencers of emerging styles. These metropolitan areas serve as melting pots of creativity, where diverse ideas, art and cultures intertwine. However, it's not just the avant-garde in these cities that influence trends; many times, there are antecedents, and subtle precursors that predate the more noticeable wave.

These small changes are intercepted by trend-sensitive designers and new ideas are created. Designers, like young people and the avant-garde, are attracted to the big metropolises and therefore the biggest trends often originate from the four famous fashion capitals of the world: Paris, Milan, New York, and London, also called the Big Four. These cities, with their rich fashion histories and iconic fashion weeks, play pivotal roles in shaping global fashion narratives.

While Paris, Milan, New York, and London are often considered the epicentres of fashion, Denmark is emerging as a significant influencer in the fashion scene – and that also counts for luxury jewellery. Many international designers are looking towards Denmark for its innovative and sustainable approaches. Here, the cool charm and sophistication of Danish jewellery, exemplified by creations from designers like Livva Østerby, are gaining notable international attention.

Chain earring in 14k gold presented on AI-generated Scandinavian model – The NatureVerse collection from Livva Østerby.

Global fashion weeks: A glimpse into upcoming seasons

Fashion weeks in the major capitals generally unfold twice annually. The "Spring/Summer" collections are typically showcased in September of the preceding year, while the "Autumn/Winter" ensembles grace the runways in February.

Interpretational glimpse of the runway ambience: A stage for fashion's future – AI-generated photo.

The most recent fashion week in February provided a tantalizing preview of the fashion and jewellery we can anticipate for Autumn and Winter 2023. I'll be diving deeper into these exciting revelations in my next article. Meanwhile, another wave of inspiration is upon us as Fashion Week rolls out the carpet in September showing the Spring/Summer 2024 collections. However, we'll also delve into those vibrant trends at a later juncture – subscribe below to get the latest articles delivered straight to your inbox.

Trend forecasting: The science behind the art

Trend forecasting, an essential aspect of the fashion industry, involves predicting future trends by analysing current societal behaviours, events, and innovations.
By understanding shifts in society, politics, technology, and more, forecasters can anticipate what might capture consumer interest in the upcoming seasons. Stay tuned for an upcoming article, where I'll delve deeper into analyses and forecasts.

Conclusion: The cultural dance of creation

Trends are so much more than seasonal colours, styles, or patterns. They're a dialogue between society and the fashion world, continuously creating and mirroring our collective journeys, values, and dreams. When we, as consumers, adopt a trend, it's not just a fashion statement: we become part of a larger, dynamic conversation and participate in an intricate dance of culture, identity, and creativity.

Livva Østerby signature logo

As part of new innovative solutions, we've utilized AI-generated images in this article to artistically illustrate the points discussed. These images are interpretations of the topics covered and aren't actual photographs. Intrigued by AI's role in our creative process? We also employ AI in developing our branding and as inspiration for our jewellery designs. Dive deeper by reading our blog article about AI in design.

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