Jan 1, 2008

Fashion Holds Steady

I found this image on a site called liketotally80s.com- it's not anyone I know

As fast as everything else has changed these past 8 years, the one thing that doesn’t seem to have undergone a sweeping change is fashion. People today pretty much look the same as they did in 1998 – I mean maybe pleats have become less common on men’s pants and things like Ugg boots and Crocs didn’t exist back then, but overall, the way people dress and wear their hair hasn’t radically shifted since the mid-1990s. Compare that with the shift between say 1968 and 1978 (or 1978 and 1988) and you’ll see what I mean.

The only theory I have on this is that the interweb has made it that much easier for trends to move across the country and so nothing’s stuck around long enough to make an impression. I mean if you think back to the 80s, it took Big Hair a couple of years to make its pouffy way inland from the coasts. Today, it would happen in a matter of weeks and be over with just as quickly.

It may also be a reaction to the rapid change the interweb has engendered in other areas of our lives: the changes in how we communicate, view media, buy things, etc. have left us a bit unmoored and so not changing our fashion sensibility may help us feel more grounded. (Though to argue the other side, the 1960s were an era of great change and fashion changed just as rapidly. Though the 1960s was about social change, rather than technological, so perhaps that's the difference.)

What set me to thinking about all this, in case you were wondering, was something I saw about an 80s party. I was wondering what an ‘00s party would look like and all I could come up with was someone manically typing on their Blackberry.

Happy 2008.


Anonymous said...

i've noticed that sartorial fashion moves mighty sloooooow in the USA. almost imperceptibly so. if it weren't for the African American community there'd be nothing new at all. comfort seems to be the main priority.

Alan Wolk said...

Less so in the past than in recent decades though.

Think of how the 70s disco look morphed into the big 80s look in just a few years.

HighJive said...

Methinks there are a few factors affecting your perceptions.

First, maybe you’re not really in touch with style and fashion. There are definitely shifts happening, but they’re not all focused on obvious visuals like hair. Consider things like piercings and body art.

Second, it might appear as if things are progressing slowly because things are actually progressing much faster than in the past. The phases and trends aren’t as obvious because they don’t stick for long. Things only last as long as a television season or until a recording artist introduces another music collection.

Third, society is becoming more diverse. There is no universal look that everyone is adopting or emulating. American Idol sorta reflects this, as we see a variety of styles and fashions, all on kids that probably represent the more pop and even conservative sides of society. There’s also a mashup mentality with style. No one is pledging allegiance to a single look or brand.

I would contend that certain generations (particularly Boomers) are not progressing in the looks department. In fact, the botox and nip/tuck craze has people actively trying not to change. Some folks want to look the same as they did a decade ago.

Alan Wolk said...

@HJ: Not sure if body art and piercings are that new a trend. But I agree with your other points- style shifts are more subtle and don't stick around as long.

None of which answers the question: what will our kids were to the '00s party in 2025?

Lunar BBDO said...

Check the book 'Microtrends'. It explains how upmarket tattooing has increased enormously over the last three/four years. 1 in 4 Americans now has a tattoo of some sort and the people getting them are the middle classes.

It's an interesting Freakonomics-type read that explains how we're all heading towards greater individuality as our more specialised tastes are catered for by today's society.

Alan Wolk said...

Dunno Lunar.

I knew lots of college students who got tats back in the 90s. (In fact, the "tribal band" around the bicep was sort of cliche of both jocks and art directors for a while)

And of course those 1990s college students are all likely "upscale Americans" these days.

If anything, like Dr. Suess' Sneetches, I think upscale kids are trending away from tattoos, seeing them as played out.