Stop thief

i was wearing a plaid shirt today under a plaid vest, and i decided not to post a sketch of this outfit for fear of being deemed "on-trend" (*shudder*!). i've just been seeing a fair amount of coverage given to plaid, and once these images start making the mainstream rounds, the dreaded "trend" label starts getting viciously thrown about.
according to wikipedia:
"Tartan patterns have been used in British and Irish weaving for centuries. Northumbrian tartan is held by some to be the earliest tartan. A possible predecessor of Northumbrian Tartan dating from the 3rd century, found near the Antonine Wall and known as the "Falkirk sett", has a checked pattern in two colours identified as the undyed brown and white of the native Soay sheep. The fabric had been used as a stopper in an earthenware pot containing a hoard of silver coins."
so i'm saying, the stuff was already on rags in the 3rd century, for pete's sake. neither gaultier nor grunge can claim it. how can my 9+ year old shirt be trendy? but if a few magazines feature it, or worse yet, blatantly use that five letter word in association with it, a trend it shall be. and that word steals something from the very thing it is defining.
things fall in and out of public favor. things pick up steam with retailers and get voted popular, or not, by consumer dollars, but

why do people feel the need to identify ... anything as a trend?

it's a power trip, i think. the labeling of a "trend" is a conspiracy, in my opinion - a way to limit the appeal of something. in high school, it gives some miscreant the delusional right to claim something is "over," and by association, someone, in that unique and insular universe. in the real world, i suspect it is a conspiracy between magazines and retailers - the 2 most dependent on merchandise moving and on appetites remaining unsatiated. if you give it an expiration date, people have to move on, to something else. as antoine de saint-exupéry wrote, to name is to tame - and in fashion, tame can translate as control. if you i.d. something as a trend, name it thusly, you control it, and can end it. first, trend is considered good. the item is "it" it's in, it's trendy. do it, do it, do it. then it's so trendy as to be over. done, fin. don't, don't, don't. it's ridiculous when something i enjoy, have always enjoyed, will continue to enjoy, is labeled. i don't care if the stuff gets plastered on a billboard or a stamp, but i do have some scorn for people who declare anything as "over" once it has run its commercial course. mind you, i don't lose sleep over it, but i do just really hate that word. trend.

(just one post this weekend, due to work. back to regular on monday.)


Anonymous said...

Oh boy, I really agree here.
I cannot add a better explanation for why the word "trend" is used.
I am already at the mercy of trends for shapes that I independently like to appear in stores, and I try to take advantage of them as they appear, and then wait out the droughts, when the "trends" do not appeal to me. But I never let the trends dictate what I love and enjoy. Great post.

Anonymous said...

lol, tell us how you really feel, editor. :)
but seriously, i think, or suspect, that everything you say is true. i don't mind trends too much, and i think it's a great idea to shop them as you say, to find what you already know you like. i do find it annoying that people assume we are following trends if an item we have happens to be in sync with a
trend. i don't let the labeling of things as trends bother me too much, and in some ways, for some stages, they almost serve a purpose - for anyone still exploring or trying to find their style, it is an opportunity to keep nibbling from the ever-changing buffet (yuck, that metaphor really got away from me!). but you get my point.
it is hard sometimes to resist the influence of the do's and don'ts, but only sometimes, the ways of identifying trends that are in, and ones that are out. but very good to look at who exactly is in charge of such a pronouncement.


enc said...

You've done a great job of dissecting this issue. I reject trends that don't work on my body, but I'll take up trends that do work for me, and I'll hold onto them long after they're "over," just because they work.

Sometimes I wear things everybody hates. For example, I have a pair of custom-made cowboy boots—definitely not "in." But I wear them anyway—with jeans with big turnups. I look like a '50s cowgirl.

Sometimes, I'll stop wearing something I've been wearing for years if it suddenly becomes a trend. I'll wait out the trend, and go back to it. I'm a rebel.

a. said...

i completely agree!

one of the things that irritates me the most about (the construction of) trends: if the trend happens to be something i like - most often a shape or cut that fits my body type, or a color that i love/works well on me - when it goes "out", it is SO frustrating, since then i can't find it anymore. it is probably my main irritation with fashion, because i tend to fall in love with certain shapes/clothing styles, and go back to them again and again.

i also do get quite irritated, like you, at people who think that wearing something that is "trendy" - or even worse, "out" - is bad. for example, i've fallen completely (back) in love with leggings. mainly for the comfort, and the fact that i can wear skirts and feel warm and also covered-up-enough at work. i suppose they're probably "out" according to trendwatchers. and others think that anything associated with the 80s could never be cool again anyway. i had a good friend laugh at me the other day for wearing leggings. laugh! the nerve! i laughed at him right back and pointed out that in some areas of the world, leggings plus a tunic is an age-old style of clothing. (c.f. the churidar kameez in south asia: just like your historical tartan reference! :-) he still laughed, but honestly, i lose respect for people when they can't see past what fashion magazines tell them is cool or not. how boring.

a. said...

my comments above remind me: i am currently wearing my favorite pair of leggings, a pair i got at old navy. the cut, the stretch, the thickness of the fabric - it's the best. so the other day, i went after work to see if i could find another pair - to the SF flagship store which i'm assuming sells everything that they currently stock - but apparently they're not making leggings anymore. argh. and a sign that leggings are "out" i suppose!! so frustrating.

Nancy said...

Plaid will always be in fashion. The shape of the garment it is on will change, and the colors will vary, but the classic design will never leave.

As for the "trends", they irk me a bit. Apparently my fashion sense works in such a way that a glorious style will come to me in a flash, a vision, a poof of glittery thought. I look for clothes that suit the style, but can't find them. So I either make some clothing or move on. And then THERE IT IS. EVERYWHERE! In every store. On every person. WHY?!?

Gar, it has happened many times, and it makes me wonder if designers are stealing my thoughts.

I think people label things as trends because they want a definite guide so they know what looks cool and what is passe. They want to move on, to see what is next, to know whet glorious creations will be next. . There are many reasons, and not all are in a mean evil spirit. Some of it is simple curiosity.

editor said...

anonymous - someone else, i think on this blog, advised me to do that, to use the trends to my advantage, buy what i like when it's in store, and wait it out when it's not. good advice.

christy - :) i know, i had a lot to say on this post, right. maybe it was to make up for only posting once this weekend. and i think you make a good point, about why trends or transient fashion is useful to people sometimes, and i think that's what nancy is touching on too here.

enc - cowboy boots (as long as they are not "in" ha ha) definitely convey individual style. that is a GOOD thing.

a. - your link to wikipedia made my day! first, thank you for the information/education - it actually really helps me to look at leggings/narrow pants in a cultural/historical context so that they are not defined by trends or the 80s or whatever. now i have a really strong positive association for them. i really appreciate that.
and then of course, i also totally relate to your 2 aggravations - the comments from your friend and the deadend at the store. at the mercy of trends. grrrrr

nancy - while i do not believe in trends, period, and so for me plaid is always in fashion, yes, certain camps do claim patterns as trends, whether it is plaid, or dots, or stars, or florals.
i don't think the people who are labeling things as trends are the people who need the guidelines. i think the labeling of trends comes from sources that do have an agenda. people who identify the trends are the ones deciding what looks cool. people who buy the trends are simply following that advice. i think people who buy into the trends are perfectly curious, as you say, and not at all part of the problem or anything like that, though a little independent thought might serve them quite well.
i love how "a." above handled being mocked for her loyalty to leggings. laugh right back at them! that is perfect.

WendyB said...

Good post and comments from everyone. I don't worry about trends. I like what I like as long as it's beautiful to me. If I don't like a trend, I skip it. If I do like something and suddenly the rest of the world is wearing it, who cares. I mean, suddenly everyone has caught up to cut-out wedges, which doesn't mean I'm giving up my Alaias. I love them that much more because no one else will be able to get them.:-)

a. said...

editor - i'm glad you liked the link! when i started wearing leggings again a few months ago, i was a bit embarrassed because of its trendiness (ridiculous). but as i fell more in love w/ them, i remembered that churidar kameez sets have always been my favorite "fancy indian dress" outfits, from a young age. so i went searching for more info about it and voila... wikipedia. now i can't believe i ever thought of leggings as "too trendy".

update on the leggings search: target is selling them by the bushelful, in all lengths. yay!

Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances said...

Great post!

I just got reading The Long Tail and I think there is a connection here. In the past "trends" were the big hits that everyone would wear because there wasn't much that you could buy at any given time. Now, with so much selection, there are more things but also more "trends", even if few of them have as much power as trends used to. The word has become very watered down and it may be time for a redefinition.

In a way, it's almost impossible not to be somewhat trendy, since even the old is new. I've had people tell me that they're not fashionable or stylish at all, and then I tell them that they're wearing t-shirts and jeans and by the looks of it, that's awfully fashionable.

As far as using trends, I look to trends to know what will more likely be in stores. I don't looking trendy, so long as it's all stuff I'd wear regardless because it works for me personally.