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In Fashion, What's Old Is New Again

Through my growing interest in fashion, I've realized that predicting the latest trends is not so much seeing into the future, but looking back on the past.
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In fashion, so much emphasis is placed on trend forecasting, with magazines and designers all competing to predict the next season's hottest styles. As a high school student myself, with many people essentially having the same style of dress, there is some pride in being a "trendsetter" and knowing about the newest looks before everyone else. Through my growing interest in fashion, I've realized that predicting the latest trends is not so much seeing into the future, but looking back on the past.

Recently, I was watching reruns of the '90s sitcom Saved by the Bell. Besides being able to attest to the fact that the relationships and opinions on the show mirrored those of my friends and I two decades later, I started to notice similarities in the fashion. The crop tops worn by Kelly and Jessie with high waisted jeans matched some of the pieces in my own closet. Back in the spring, countless blogs and magazines aimed at teens were touting those two items as summertime essentials (although replacing the jeans with denim shorts) as if it was something new. Even in swimwear, the modest '60s-style bathing suit silhouette was increasingly popular this summer. This pattern is not just present in women's style -- while dropping me off at school one day, my dad noticed some boys with the same flat-top haircut he used to sport in college. While these examples focus on the resurgence of fairly recent trends, fashion can take inspiration from much older eras. One of the biggest emerging trends for this fall is baroque, which consists of ornate prints and sophisticated details borrowed from the artistic period of the 17th century.

The cyclical quality of fashion can be attributed to the constant transitioning of consumers. Specifically relating to teenagers, as one generation grows out of a trend over time, it will disappear for a while until the next generation stumbles upon it. This is why someone cannot claim that a trend has gone "out of style," because it is likely that the decrease in popularity is only temporary. Of course, it is safe to say that not every fad will make a comeback; certain pieces that are only favored because they are pointedly "trendy" are not likely to last.

Obviously, I am not the first person to notice this pattern. Many companies have already been capitalizing on the popularity of vintage fashion. Well-known clothing brands such as Urban Outfitters and American Apparel offer hand-picked, authentic vintage clothing for sale on their websites. ModCloth, an online store, is devoted entirely to retro-inspired styles. These prospects are very appealing to the fashion-forward teenager, but they tend to cost exponentially more than (equally as old) items from the local thrift store. It could be deemed wrong for corporations to prey on the desires of the people, especially if the target audience is youth, who may not know better. Personally, I believe it is up to the consumer to be knowledgeable enough to weigh various options. Still, there is no doubt that there will always be a demand for the latest styles, even if they are actually blasts from the past.