Trends used to be influenced only by magazines and a few fashionistas, but the democratisation of fashion has changed everything. The magazines still have clout, but in the online era, it’s online that trends hit their make and break point.
In the online era, Instagram has become one of the biggest fashion influencers in the world. You’ll find countless shops and boutiques who are active on Instagram, showing all their latest styles and hoping that they can translate that from Insta likes to sales in the shop. Insta influence isn’t just as straightforward as getting likes and people buying your new trends. There’s more to it than that.
The Insta cycle has sped up trend cycles, but the fickle nature can actually harm brands and trends. Here’s how. Early adopters of trends can feel isolated and because they adopt trends early are likely to ditch trends as soon as they start to appear elsewhere. This means a short lifespan for early adopters wearing anything, so from a brand’s point of view, the limited exposure time you get with early adopters is unlikely to make your product fly off the shelves. For brands that are looking for volume sales of trends, they aim to get involved in the second wave of adopters.
Trends have curves. They grow from early adopters and then they balloon until they reach saturation point, then the trend dies quickly, and it moves into the “no one wants it” cycle. The first wave is usually a smallish boost in sales that drop off and then the second wave will last longer and have a slower tail off. For businesses, this means that their product cycles have to be judged correctly. If they want to sell large volumes, then they have to make sure they don’t launch the product for early influencers. This is because when early influencers start to wear something and only the adventurous will buy it. You may have noticed that most people aren’t adventurous and take time getting used to a trend before buying. This means that to maximise sales marketing teams and buyers should aim for getting products in stores for the second wave. This is where the big money is to be made.
Early adopters seem to work from the big fashion houses and when they release clothes. High street chains tend to aim for the second wave, by adapting trends for the high street customer. Where the high fashion houses will be bold in their trends and styles, high street shops will take them and tone them down. For example, a sparkly boot might be de rigueur on the catwalk, but the high street shopper might be happy to wear a boot with a sparkly heel for example. It’s this type of toning down trends that tend to make the big money. This trickle-down trend cycle is key to high street fashion retailers’ business models.
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