Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Microtrends and Why They Can Be Problematic

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 NCSU chapter.

What is a microtrend?

Styles always come and go but there are a few trends who left just as quickly as they came. Microtrends are defined as a trend that gains popularity quickly but also becomes irrelevant very quickly. Usually microtrends only last one fashion season, instead of a few years like normal trends. Microtrends have always been a thing, but they have become more relevant due to social media such as TikTok and Instagram. A popular example that was relevant in 2020 was animal print, more specifically cow print. Cow print was popular across all clothing items including pants, tank tops and even room decor.

Why can microtrends be problematic?

Let’s be honest, everyone wants to participate in the new fun trend. While microtrends may seem harmful, they can lead to bigger problems. A consequence of microtrends is not only you may cringe looking back at old pictures, but it can cause environmental issues. Thrown out clothes make up 10% of all carbon emissions in the world. Clothing in landfills are also one of the main contributors to plastics in the environment. There is a good chance the microtrends you throw away will turn into microplastics.

Another drawback to microtrends is since the trends are so in demand, people typically buy them from non-sustainable sources. Fast fashion businesses are very quick in reproducing these microtrends to make them available to the public. Typically, these fast fashion business are known for their unethical practices. Not only do these businesses use environment unfriendly factories, but they also treat their workers unfairly. Many fast fashion companies source labor out of different countries with looser labor laws. They typically underpay and overwork workers, sometimes they even employ children to work in the tough conditions.

What can I do?

It is nearly impossible to get everyone to stop forming and participating in microtrends. You’re not a bad person if you fall victim to these trends. A way to not contribute to the harms of these trends is to change your mindset. It is human nature to want what everyone has, but you need to ask yourself “Is this something I would want prior?” or “Would I think this is ugly a week ago?”. These questions will keep you mindful of what you want and need, it may also save you a few dollars. Another thing you can do is buy second hand or from sustainable brands. While usually the problem with second hand is the trend is usually out of style by the time it hits the thrift, it is still good to keep an eye out if you really want that cow print bucket hat. You also don’t have to venture all the way to a local good will, there are so many online resale platforms such as Depop, thredUp, and Poshmark. Another option is to buy from sustainable brands. Even though sustainable stores may be a little more expensive, it is still a great option. Also, it is usually more high-quality if you want to keep it after the trend has passed.

Hello, I am Laurel Adoryan and I am a student at North Carolina State University!