How Do Fashion Trends Start?

Allison Cooper
Proenza Schouler Fringe Embellished Coat at Spring 2014 New York Runway Show
Proenza Schouler Fringe Embellished Coat

In decades' past fashion trends typically were started and evolved strictly through the method of fashion house to magazine to consumer - and it stayed like this for a very long time. In our current Internet-savvy (even obsessed) world - where Mashable reports that adults in the U.S. spend an average of "11 hours per day with digital media" - things have changed.

Five Ways Fashion Trends Begin

While traditional fashion houses still have an impact on the way that fashion trends emerge, it's not just those sources that play a role in popular fashion trends anymore. Fashion trends now start and evolve through five key ways: from the runway, from street style, through celebrities, through fashion bloggers, and through the different fashion capitals of the world.

1. Runway Trends

Many of today's current trends are certainly inspired by the looks that designers send down the runways each season during Fashion Week events in New York, Milan and Paris. Fashion lovers wait in anticipation every season to see what has transpired in the minds of the designers that they love over the past months.

Reasons Runways Inspire Trends

Trends start from the runway simply because runway looks are moments created by fashion designers that are purely fantastical! While a great deal of looks sent down the runway go into mass production, Fashion Week shows also feature many pieces that are considered to be couture - something that is made to fit only one person's body. These are the pieces that people wait in anticipation for because they are typically over-the-top designs that look as if they came from a dream. These are the pieces that viewers store in their memories and start modeling their wardrobes after.

Runway-Inspired Trend Examples

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear Collection
DVF Spring 2014

Examples of trends that began with runway shows include:

  • Proenza Schouler Spring 2014 - At New York Fashion Week's Spring 2014 collections, presented in the Fall of 2013, designer Proenza Schouler sent numerous fringe looks down the runway, providing inspiration for designers to add many different fringe embellishments into their collections. This trend was dominant in the spring of 2014 and will continue to be popular into the fall.
  • DVF Spring 2014 - Also during New York Fashion Week's Spring 2014 collections, Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) sent many different crop top looks down the runway. This had a trickle effect, leading to crop tops becoming an ultimate fashion trend for Spring 2014.

2. Street Style

The term 'street style' essentially refers to everyday looks that can be seen on the streets. These are the looks that people wear in their everyday life that make an impact on those who pass them by - and become inspired by them! Overall, 'street style' is a newer term in the world of fashion, but it shows how much of an impact that anyone can play in the way that fashion is perceived and trends are set!

Reasons Street Style Inspires Trends

People are easily inspired by street style for two main reasons:

  • The looks are typically easier to recreate.
  • People are inclined to follow the trends of an 'everyday person' because they believe these trends are something they can pull off themselves.

Trends Inspired by Street Style

Examples of trends that began with street style include:

  • Colorful furs - Street style trend setters and designers alike made colorful fur a popular trend. One of the big trends for fall fashion began with Natalie Joos, as her collection sports the colorful fur street style trend in a more muted tone. As fall fashion is starting to hit stores, this trend is making a big splash using very brilliant royal blues and even bright orange!
  • Coachella hippie look - The music festival Coachella launched in 2007 and became a Mecca for people to watch and capture street style. After the first year, the hippie look emerged and became very strong, as designer began using it an inspiration for their upcoming collections and it has rolled into being very dominant and lasting season after season.

3. Celebrities

There is no question about i t- celebrities are one of the biggest driving forces in trend creation! The public covets celebrities and follows their every move, hanging on to their every word. The fact that celebrities are highly influential is the very reason why huge companies turn to them to be spokespeople for their brands and products.

Reasons Celebrities Inspire Trends

Due to their huge fan base, celebrities can have a bigger reach than the latest fashion magazine. Eyes are always on them and their fans often copy what they do. Many celebrities have become known as trend setters and style icons over the years such as Maggie Gyllenhaal and Sarah Jessica Parker, who have an eye for fashion. Fans look to them to see how to wear garments, what silhouettes are popular, what is the newest 'it' handbag and more. They are a source of trend setting information that people admire and turn to for inspiration and advice.

Trends Inspired by Celebrities

Examples of trends inspired by celebrities include:

  • Manolo Blahnik stilettos - Yes, Manolo Blahnik shoes are impeccably-designed in every way, but they really weren't put on the map until they made their big debut on Sex and the City and Sarah Jessica Parker incorporated them into her real life wardrobe. After this, it became such a trend to own a pair of these coveted shoes!
  • Hobo trend - You could call the hobo trend a modern-day grunge look, but no matter what name tag you place on it, the trend was clearly started by the Olsen twins! Mary Kate and Ashley them began rocking this look anytime they were out in public and became widely known by the press as "bag ladies." Their fans loved it and began copying this look!

4. Fashion Bloggers

Over the years, fashion bloggers have proven to the masses that they have great taste and are creating trends in the fashion world - not following them! Designers often turn to fashion bloggers - just as they turn to celebrities - to wear and help promote their products, because they are well aware of their influence. Once fashion bloggers get these designer garments in their hands, they set trends by styling the garments various ways, photographing themselves and sharing the images - and their thoughts - with their very large audiences.

Reasons Fashion Bloggers Inspire Trends

Fashion bloggers are highly influential in their niche areas. While people watch celebrities just because they like to, people watch fashion bloggers as a way to go directly to the source of how a trend is made so they are able to be aware from the very beginning. Fashion bloggers offer a fresh perspective on the fashion industry and their readers adore and respect that.

Trends Inspired by Fashion Bloggers

  • Military style - World known fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni set the tone with the popular military style that has trickled down and inspired many designers worldwide. She used details such as patched and the beret hat to complete her look and help start a major trend!
  • Shoe trends - Fashion blogger Peace Love Shea inspired her huge audience and designers alike with her daily style posts on her blog and through her Instagram feed. She has made such a huge impact in the design world that shoe company Steve Madden approached her to partner in a shoe collection, inspired by her style!

5. Fashion Capitals of the World

Because fashion and trends are different all over the world, people often look to see what happening in the fashion capitals of the world - New York City, Paris, Milan and London - to see what people are wearing and adopt those trends to fit into their lives.

Reasons Trends Begin in Fashion Capitals

Whenever people - including designers, fashion lovers, bloggers and magazine editors-in-chief - look out of their geographic area to trend-source, they often reach towards these highly fashionable cities looking for a unique newness. Trends from around the world show fashion through a different set of eyes and enable fashion lovers to bring something new into their world.

Trends Inspired from the Fashion Capitals

  • Mini skirts - While many people think the mini skirt trend started in the United States, this trend actually migrated from London in the late 1950's through designer Mary Quant and slowly migrated over to the United States. This trend definitely hasn't disappeared, as it is given a fresh twist pretty much every season!
  • Dr. Martens - Affectionately referred to as 'Doc Martens', this shoe company started in Britain in 1960, originally to provide functionality to the wearer. They were quickly adopted by the youth of London's High Street and became a hallmark of youth culture. Popularized worldwide by Pete Townshend of The Who, these shoes found their way over to the U.S. and became a huge part of the rebellious grunge era fashion scene.

The Evolution of Fashion Trends

Overall, fashion trends from these sources have the opportunity to make a huge splash and impact the fashion industry worldwide. They start as simple ideas from key players in the fashion world, travel all the way to everyday people and emerge in a powerful way. Fashion trends will suddenly become very popular, disappear over time, and then have the ability to be recycled and serve as inspiration again in the years to come.

How Do Fashion Trends Start?