Understanding the stages of the fashion cycle
Do you remember the time when there was a huge craze for ripped jeans? Or what about the time when people were obsessed with tie dye prints? If you remember, these were a few fashion trends that were rocking the fashion industry for almost a good three years. But are they in trend right now? The answer is, no! At present Y2K fashion is trending. People are loving this trend so much, but in a few years or perhaps, even in a few months, this trend might decline and new trends like dopamine dressing, for example, might rule our wardrobes very soon. So by now it is clear that the fashion industry is dynamic and that change in this industry is almost inevitable.
Coming to our main discussion, what is known as the fashion cycle? Like I mentioned earlier, the fashion industry is dynamic so the way in which fashion trends rise and fall during a certain period of time is known as the fashion cycle. Let us look at this in detail.
What is a fashion cycle?
Fashion cycle basically refers to the process by which a fashion trend is introduced in the market, rises to popularity, declines and then finally gets rejected in the obsolescence stage. These new styles are exposed to the public by fashion designers which are then critically reviewed and commented on by the consumers, press or the buyer. The fashion cycle is depicted through a bell shaped curve which consists of five stages: Introduction, rise, peak, decline and finally, obsolescence. The fashion cycle can reflect the acceptance of either one style from one designer or a general style such as the ripped jeans. So, Let us dig deeper and learn more about the five stages of the fashion cycle. Keep reading until the end to know how as designers, you can use the fashion cycle to your favour!
Stages of the fashion cycle:
Introduction: This is the first stage of the fashion cycle and it is basically when a new style or trend enters the fashion world. Fashion designers come up with unique ideas and styles, execute them in the form of different accessories, and finally present them to the general public. In this stage the new trend or style is not fully accepted by the general audience and the work of the designers are termed as “latest fashion”. Since the clothes from this stage are usually very limited in terms of the quantity because of the high cost of production, the price of these pieces are usually high, which restricts the style being available to a wider range of audience.
Rise: The rise stage, also known as the fashion acceptance stage, is when the new fashion style starts gaining popularity and is officially termed as a “trend” in the fashion industry. This is the stage where right from fashion influencers to celebrities, all the popular social media figures incorporate these styles in their day-to-day life to influence the audience to make a purchase which helps in increasing the consumer demand for the retailers. Since the trend has gained popularity, new retailers and brands carry these trends and start selling these styles in the form of different colours and fabrics.
Peak: During this stage, it is very clear that the trend has reached a mass audience and is currently in full saturation with many consumers beginning to incorporate this style in their lives often. By looking at the surge in demand, many manufacturers replicate or even copy the designs and offer them to consumers at various price levels, especially at lower prices. This makes it easier for the consumers to afford these products, further increasing demand.
Decline: The trend has become oversaturated in the market and consumers start losing interest or get bored of the same style being worn by everyone in the street. Consumers will start looking for new trends. However, it cannot be concluded that people will stop wearing these styles altogether. The style will still be circulating but not as much as the rise or peak stage of the fashion cycle.
Obsolescence: This stage is the end of the fashion cycle and once the trend has reached this stage, it is considered to be outdated by the public and the media. During this stage, consumers would have moved on to newer trends which are in the first two stages of the fashion cycle. However, it does not mean that trends which reach the obsolescence stage will never come back. Examples of fashion trends that have made an entry to the industry after a long period of time are bell bottoms, high-waisted jeans, etc…
One important point to note is that it is impossible to predict the length of the fashion cycle. A wide range of factors play a role in determining the cycle length, likewise, other factors like wars, a recession, pandemic, for example, can also affect and lead to disruptions in the cycle. However, any disruption in the cycle will resume once the economic situation is stable.
How as fashion designers can you use the fashion cycle?
The knowledge of the fashion cycle is an amazing tool for budding fashion designers who want their work to be recognised. Here are a few ways to use the fashion cycle to improve your skills:
● Firstly, know that trends are not always constant. The trends keep changing so instead of focusing on incorporating these trends in your design, focus on different fashion needs and your approach to finding a solution for that need. This will put you on the map and increase your popularity.
● Secondly, knowing which trends lasted longer and which trends did not, will help you come up with different ideas for your brand. A thorough research on the trends will help you make prompt decisions when it comes to selling the product to a consumer as you can easily identify their needs and wants.
● Be aware of the cycle. When a particular style has become outdated make sure to not use those styles in your brand. Market different styles to your customers as this will increase sales.
● If your designs become a huge trend then well and good. However, if your design declines then it is important not to get stressed as this can happen to anyone in the industry. Instead, learn from your mistakes and find out what went wrong. Make sure you don’t make these mistakes the next time you design or come up with a style.
Fashion as an industry is constantly changing and each fashion trend has different cycle lengths. It is important to remember that fashion cycles do not always focus on the clothing style but also focus on different fabrics and colours. Understanding the fashion cycle is particularly important for retailers as well as consumers since it helps both the groups involved when it comes to the decision making process - buying the product, when it comes to the consumers and marketing the product, when it comes to the retailers. Hence, understanding the fashion cycle will help you gain a competitive advantage and it is a great tool for anyone interested in fashion.