The Trend Cycle

Bella Hadid wearing low rise jeans in 2018

Bella Hadid wearing low rise jeans in 2018

While many people think that the latest fashion trends have been random and unpredictable, the truth is that trends generally follow a repeating cycle. It turns out that a lot of what is in style now was fashionable two to three decades ago. This also means that what was in style decades ago, will likely be all the rage again in the next few years. It is an interesting phenomenon that trends generally repeat themselves every 20-30 years. It turns out that some of today’s most popular fashions, such as low-rise jeans, butterfly clips, headbands, and even tracksuits, were just as popular 20 years ago in the early 2000s. Sometimes a trend will skip a cycle, like the mullet, which was one of the iconic hairstyles of the late 80s. This hairstyle is only making a reappearance now about 40 years later, skipping the early 2000s.

Though the 20-30 year cycle may seem to be a random interval, there is an explanation behind why this occurs. It is the power of nostalgia. Most people look back on their childhood days as a pleasant time in their lives. And when a generation reaches their 30s and 40s, they can finally influence pop culture. This is their chance to feed their nostalgia, so they revisit the trends that remind them of “the good ole days.” Not only do we see this in the fashion industry, but in entertainment as well. It is no coincidence that one of the most popular movies of the 80s, Back to the Future, was the story of a teenager going 30 years in the past, the 1950s. The producers knew that the movie would not only appeal to the teenagers of the 1980s but also their parents who could relive their teenage years from 30 years earlier. Another prime example of this is the hit series, Stranger Things. This series first aired in 2016 and takes place approximately 30 years earlier, in the mid-80s. ( Older generations love when they can bring a little bit of their younger years back to the present.

Destiny’s Child wearing low rise jeans in 2001 (

Another reason why recurring trends are so popular is the vintage appeal. Kids like to feel a connection to the past, and one way to do so is to experience the trends of the generations that came before them. This could explain why vintage shops and thrift stores are so popular. When a fashionable trend is good enough to be popular, it is guaranteed to repeat for future generations to enjoy. We can see this in action right now. BHS Freshman Sharmel Gibson has noticed that some of the latest trends are from about 20 years ago. Gibson stated, “Many of the current styles are from the late 90s and early 2000s. Teens have been into Doc Martins and the big grungy boot look, along with Y2K style.”

On the surface, trends are no more than deciding what to wear or watch, but these trends give us the opportunity to connect with other generations. These recycling trends are a part of human nature that binds different generations together.