Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Fashion

THE PITFALLS OF FLEETING FASHION

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Krea chapter.

I have an aunt who, come the turn of the year, clears out her wardrobe of all the clothes she is certain she will never wear and donates them before even thinking of hitting the mall. She recognises that something needs to be done with the clothes that she no longer plans on wearing in order to warrant purchasing new ones; that there are people who would benefit more from having those clothes given to them than her shelves would from witnessing them get buried under the glamour of new purchases.

I can honestly say that I would not have even thought of subscribing to an idea like this, let alone have made it a habit to execute it. What surprised me more than the practice itself was her commitment towards it, and that speaks volumes about how normalised the unsustainable nature of fashion has become today. 

Clothing trends these days are so fleeting that they’re only in fashion for a few months, at most, before they’re out of vogue (the magazine and the general use of the word) and the world seamlessly transitions into the next trend. The whole issue, however, lies in the fact that these transitions aren’t very seamless. In fact, if we were to get literal, there are far too many “seams” involved—and whether or not that joke lands with you, ultimately, it is very reflective of the dire straits the fashion industry has found itself in. 

An important distinction I’d like to make is that when I say fleeting fashion, I don’t necessarily mean fast fashion, which is a term we’re all familiar with and might also be what your mind gravitated towards when you first saw the title of this article. Fast fashion, by definition, refers to inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Fleeting fashion, on the other hand, is more of a commentary on the transient nature of those trends. It can encompass fast fashion and its detrimental environmental impact, but it isn’t limited to just that. It is, in my opinion, the expression which best summarises the scene in the fashion world today. Even high quality, authentic clothing falls victim to the ever-changing fashion landscape if it doesn’t meet the criteria of the newest clothing craze. It isn’t a matter of the quality of the clothing—it’s a matter of the clothing itself, and how briefly one style of it stays in the limelight before it’s replaced by the next big thing.

The pertinence of social media to this topic is far too great to not warrant a mention. How does one keep up with the trends and what makes them so fleeting? How does the average fashion fanatic catch wind of a fad, participate in perpetuating it and then jump onto the next whenever it rolls along—all in the span of a month or less? The answer is mind-numbing in its obviousness: it’s today’s social media platforms that have made this possible. People are impressionable, especially the demographic that tends to participate in these trends most actively. It doesn’t take much for a trend to take off once it’s been introduced to the nearest clothing aficionado’s explore page. You might have laughed at the videos from last year of people fighting for their lives trying to extract their feet from those comical red boots, but the signature MSCHF Big Red Boot sells for $350 a pair. It was hugely popular following its release, with the shoes not only being sold out often but also being resold online for as much as $1500 at the height of its notoriety. Some like to claim that the rise of the Big Red Boot should not be written off as another gimmick fashion piece monopolising the internet since it “blurs the line between online reality and physical reality”. But at the end of the day, it was still intended to be a trend that banked on its ridiculousness to gain traction before everyone inevitably lost interest and turned their attention elsewhere.

The most terrifying aspect of this development is how quickly everyone seems to have gotten accustomed to it. No one bats an eye at the transient nature of a trend anymore. Perhaps this is because those who are susceptible to the trends are too busy trying to keep up with them; and the ones who aren’t couldn’t care less about the affairs of the fashion industry.

Considering these two ends of the spectrum, there isn’t exactly a solution to a phenomenon like this unless everyone miraculously climbs on board and agrees to start a revolution. This piece wasn’t necessarily a call to action and I certainly don’t expect that everyone who reads it will feel motivated to take stock of their wardrobes and fortify themselves against the temptation of the newest trend. It’s just that every time I sense the beginnings of a shift in my Instagram timeline, I’m reminded of my aunt and her wardrobe and overcome with the urge to emulate her fashion forwardness. All I ask is that just a few more people are overcome with that urge.

Niharika Banerjee is an undergraduate student and the foremost proponent of tsundoku—the Japanese art of buying books but never reading them. She’s an expert at carrying a conversation about a book she’s read only halfway and making it seem like it’s been read twice over. Despite this, the love of reading is something that has been innate to her. Writing entered the picture later and has been her only personality trait ever since. Although she has a proclivity for slice-of-life fiction, she’s always ready to take on a challenge when it comes to writing.