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Clothes or Content?

Fashion Cycles

Traditionally, we only saw new fashion cycles twice a year at spring/summer and autumn/winter collections. Here, trending items would generally circulate in five stages; the introduction (brought by fashion innovators, designers and celebrities) the increase (rinse in popularity) the peak (item has been fully embraced by the mainstream) the decline (item looses its popularity) and finally its obsolescence (the trend dies).

By the 90’s brands like Zara and H&M had pioneered the fast fashion business model, taking inspiration directly from celebrity culture and bringing it to the masses within weeks. New items could be stocked weekly (advantaged by a development of systems that connected stock with supply and demand). The fast fashion cycle could take months or even years before a trend died out – enabling retailers to fully capitalize on one cultural moment/trend.

Early 2010’s saw the birth of influencer culture, brands such as Boohoo and Shein were some of the first appeal companies to use social media marketing. Accelerated by this move to digital retail, the fashion cycle speeds up yet again – with trending items now coming in and out of fashion within days. Known as ‘ultra-fast’ fashion, brands take inspiration from Internet platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, and replicate celebrity looks in less than 24 hours. Brands like Shein (a $100 billion business) are better categorised as tech companies.

Falling into the ultra-fast cycle of quick consumption and disposal, are we now buying solely for the purpose of content? Or are we buying clothes that we will love and take care of?

April 2022

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