The Harm Behind the Trend: Microtrends
While I don’t speak for everyone, I can confidently say that many of those reading this article right now have shopped online at least once in their life. Given how often so many of us have been inside over the last few years, it makes sense that we would look to online shopping as a way to regain a sense of normalcy.
Whether it's Amazon, or fashion startups, there has been an all time rise in the consumption of online products. Along with the historical rise of product consumption, social media has slowly dissolved into a platform almost exclusively for advertisement. While social media frequently showcased advertisements prior to this rising trend, it is now near impossible to spend any time online without being bombarded by countless promotions.
While there are thousands of different companies shoving their brand into your face at all times, there are a few specific corporations that consistently show up time and time again. Shein, Romwe, even Fashion Nova, are all typical culprits. These brands have excessive sponsored and unsponsored advertisements that seem to reach every corner of the internet. But what do these companies have in common? Are they all related in some way? The answer: these companies are all rampant creators of “Microtrends'', a phenomenon that is not only plaguing the industry but also directly harming the environment. But what exactly are microtrends?
What are microtrends?
To fully understand the irrevocable harm of fast fashion, we need to discuss microtrends. Essentially, a microtrend is any type of trend that has a short life expectancy, and quickly makes rounds before becoming completely obsolete. This definition can also apply to macrotrends, which are trends that may have a very large consumption, and are typically associated with a decade (think galaxy leggings, or Juicy Couture tracksuits). These macrotrends can last anywhere from around 5-10 years, whereas microtrends typically last less than five years. Microtrends are incredibly detrimental to the environment considering their contribution to fast fashion.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is any brand that changes designs extremely quickly to keep up on trends. Fast fashion is underpriced clothing that is extremely poor quality and created only for mass distribution. These companies are often very un-sustainable, and pay little to no attention to the ecological effects of their clothing. Fast fashion companies profit off of whatever trends are popular in the moment, and usually co-align with whatever fashion trends are in style. There are countless products manufactured for these companies every day that are then widely distributed online. Fast fashion cannot exist without microtrends moving it along, so to consume microtrends is to also consume fast fashion.
So what's the problem with microtrends?
The compulsion to stay fashionable via microtrends leads people to contribute to the fast fashion industry. It's important to note that since microtrends are typically small trends that quickly go out of style but are still widely consumed, fashion companies produce hundreds of items under these designs every day. Also, because of the highly affordable prices in the fast fashion industry, this clothing is often very poorly made and can not stand much use. When an extensive amount of cheap clothing is consumed by a large number of people, it ends up in one of two places. Most of this clothing ends up in landfills, however there has recently been an issue arising within institutions such as goodwill, or local thrift stores.
When people have clothing that is “out of style” or in poor condition, yet they don't want to throw it away, the logical answer is to donate it to charity. This, however, creates a bigger issue than simply throwing it away. These poorly made clothes gain overpriced tags at these institutions, and are sold back to people who may not be able to afford having damaged clothing. Both of these issues are becoming more prevalent every time a new microtrend is created, and need to be made aware. Microtrends and fast fashion are affecting us more than we realize, and we collectively need to do something about it.
Some of the ways YOU can help are by researching reputable fashion brands, and buying quality products that can withstand the wear and tear of time. Buying from secondhand sources are also good ways to minimize clothing waste, and prevent yourself from accidentally contributing to these brands. There are so many ways to prevent yourself from consuming these products, and I strongly advise looking more into the detrimental effects of microtrends, and even more so fast fashion.