Group 4

The trendification of trends

Digi x SSENSE on the anatomy of the trend cycle


We spoke to SSENSE about the anatomy of trends, whether the 20 year rule still holds up, and what role the internet plays in it all:


SSENSE: On the traditional trend cycle?

Digi: I think it’s easy to say that because of social media, the trend cycle has dramatically shortened from its traditional 20-year time frame. But a cyclical, chronological way of looking at trends, while still valid, is simply no longer enough. Rather, we are now in the multiverse of the trend cycle (dare I say, everything everywhere all at once-core) where emerging subcultures can be slapped together with mainstream aesthetics, and trends from nostalgic time periods show up on the runway alongside AI-enabled visions of the future. 

We know that social media has accelerated and democratised our access to knowledge around trends. But that also means that with everything available, even trends that we know to be in the “decline” and “obsolescence” phases of the traditional trend cycle continue to swim in the internet “soup” of trends — readily available for anyone to reference and adopt. So in theory, no trend can become irrelevant because nothing is too obsolete to be removed in the digital age. 

SSENSE: On reaching peak trend? 

Digi: We also hear a lot of narratives around culture hitting “peak trend”, but in my opinion, I think it will keep going. We have to remember that the everyday consumer is only just getting the grips of (and enjoying!) micro-trends and aesthetics on their algorithms — the ritual of reappropriating trends via social media (especially TikTok) peaked at the height of the pandemic and will continue to marinate in the mainstream for a while.

Further to that point, the democratisation of trends has created a trend literacy bubble, especially in online silos of trend analyses, forecasts, criticisms, hauls, etc., where awareness around trends is so heightened in an echo chamber — we are in the "ification” of “ification” right now — where we are hyper-self-aware of the process in which we perceive ourselves. But we forget that a lot of people do not speak in ‘cores’, ‘sleazes’ or ‘eras’. Instead of “peak trend”, I think we’ve hit “peak trend knowledge”. There will always be people who follow trends, but I foresee in the future increasing overwhelm around the vernacular of trends. The trendification of everything has diluted the very meaning of words, and our trend democratisation has driven us to trend delirium! Soon, we might even want to stop being codified into trend buzzwords… or perceived altogether. 

SSENSE: On tracking trends

Digi: The industry of trend forecasting has a heavy Western gaze, so a trend forecaster who grew up in the East and now lives in the West, I am interested in what non-Western brands are doing, what global youth (i.e., China, SEAsia) are wearing/interested in to subvert the whitewashed narratives that we see today in the trends world. It feels like everyday there is a new way to ID a trend, but in the age where culture continues to perpetuate a history of stealing from obscure subcultures or marginalised groups (such as people of colour, women, queer communities) — with mainstream trend forecasting making this mechanism even easier – I think it’s all the more important to evaluate and criticise why certain sources are more visible or accessible than others, and do due diligence to go back to the original material — be it actually talking to members of subcultures, or referencing history accurately. 

Read the full article by AJ Lacouette here.

✨ Contributing Fairies

  • Rachel Lee, Insights & Cultural Analyst

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