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Fashion

Are Aesthetics Replacing Trends?

If you’ve spent any time on nearly any social media site over the past several years, you may have noticed that “aesthetics” have been dominating the fashion world. If you’re unfamiliar, aesthetics encompass fashion, makeup looks, and in some cases, even lifestyle inspiration that create an overall aesthetically pleasing and very cohesive style. In this article, I will be discussing how this cultural shift is affecting the tradition of trends, how it came to be and what this might mean for the future of the fashion and beauty industry!

To begin this breakdown of aesthetic culture, we have to go all the way back to where it began: Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. These highly visual social media platforms popularized a genre of posts featuring aesthetically pleasing image collages, also known as mood boards. And many of these collages included images of outfits, fashion, makeup and/or other cute objects that fit the given theme. While mood boards were usually just for aesthetic purposes, this is where the term “aesthetic” gained the modern connotation that I’m referring to today.  People who enjoyed mood boards were looking to emulate the perfectly curated style in their own lives. (Does #goals ring a bell?) Then, we fast forward to the rise of short-form video content.

Enter TikTok. Suddenly everyone has a convenient place to create quick content styling outfits, doing makeup, anything they deem “aesthetic” and the app’s algorithm favors niches. While the mood-board aesthetics of an earlier internet were often quite specific, the short-form video medium continued to amplify that specificity. If users interact with the platform for long enough, its algorithm could essentially predict each user’s own personal style and show them creators that were presenting outfit inspo that aligned with that. 

So where does this all fit in with trendiness?  Many people in the fashion and media industries have noticed that the trend cycles are getting shorter and shorter since we gained easy access to the internet. Social media is not only a catalyst for aesthetic culture, but it also allows us to spread news of what is “in” much faster than before.  Historically, people who lived in smaller towns or generally just further from the big cities like New York City or Los Angeles would naturally have to wait to catch wind of all of the happening trends and fashion news. Since we all have access to that information now, trends tend to tire out faster, sending new trends into the spotlight at a much higher turnover rate.  As this phenomenon continues to be analyzed, many people that study the accelerating trend cycle call these “micro-trends.” This being said, there are only so many combinations of colors and styles that can exist, there are a finite number of previous fashion eras that people can pull inspiration from, and it still does take time for people to buy clothes to style them in the first place. So, that results in a trend cycle that essentially feels as though everything is trendy all at once. 

What does this all mean?  It is hard to pinpoint exactly where all of this is leading us as a collective, but generally, it seems that the focus is shifting towards personal style. Yes, you can still enjoy and participate in trends.  Between multi-billion dollar high-fashion brands and a massive industry in general, the cycle will still continue regardless of how the public feels about trends. However, everything happens so fast that it is more attainable and sustainable in the long run to curate your own closet with the pieces that you will continue to love and re-wear rather than feeding into fast-fashion brands that sell you an entire closet overhaul with every micro-trend that comes across your TikTok feed. 

Sonny Crull

Illinois State '23

Hi! My name is Sonny Crull, I am a Senior at Illinois State, and I'm majoring in Interpersonal Communications with a minor in Music! As a writer, I aim to use my voice and platform through Her Campus to share fun, engaging, and relatable content.
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