Colourful chunky rings, wild abstract prints, and sweater vests. These are just a handful of the many micro-trends that have risen to popularity this season, soon to be forgotten about and only a distant memory.
Micro-trends are short-lived, inexpensive fashion items, heavily influenced by social media and designed to last until the end of the season.
These trends have become increasingly popular since the rise of fast-fashion shops and websites in recent years such as Shein and Pretty little thing.
These clothing items are detrimental to the environment. With the short-lived nature of these trends, it isn’t long before these clothes end up in landfills, thus accelerating the already fast nature of ‘fast fashion’.
Despite the many negative downsides to purchasing these clothes, these trends still remain popular.
Fourth-year University of Limerick student and self-confessed shopaholic, Rachel Butler is no stranger to micro-trends, saying: “Like many others our age I am a buyer of microtrends. something comes into fashion and at first, I’m not even sure if I like it but over time, I see it on my Instagram and across social media and before I know it, I’m thinking I’d like that jacket are those Crocs or whatever it is.”
Many of these so-called micro-trends last less than a couple of months, spiking in popularity immediately, before quickly going out of fashion, and left sitting at the back of a wardrobe, thrown in a bag for the local charity shop in time to come.
However, these clothes are very appealing to young people, who often lack funds to splurge on sustainably made items, finding they can afford to spend less money on these cheaply made items, allowing them to purchase multiple items.
Fourth-year University of Limerick student Ella Malone is testament to this, saying: “I choose to buy clothes online on cheap websites like Shein as I can afford to buy more for less cost. As a college student, I dont have the money to spend loads on one or two items of clothing, that will more than likely go out of fashion soon after.”
One girl who understands the implications of microtrends is 23-year-old Laura Sheehy from Kerry who opts to purchase clothes from Depop and sustainable sites where possible. She explained: Microtrends are very damaging to the environment because they come and go so quickly. There is huge overproduction of clothing items that go out of trend so quickly and are soon left in people’s wardrobes.
These mass-produced trends make it increasingly difficult for consumers to develop their own personal style, leaving many people unsure of whether they are wearing a clothing item because they like it on themselves or because it’s in fashion at the moment.
Influencers can be to blame for this. Often seen wearing a piece of trendy clothing for a photograph and reselling it online, their job is centered around posting pictures in new clothing, rarely being seen in the same outfit twice.
Micro-trends are definitely something we need to be more aware of and limit our consumption of,” Laura added.
So, if not following trends, then what?
There are many ways one can steer clear of micro-trends and develop their style identity in an eco-friendly fashion.
Nowadays, there is a range of options such as Depop, an app where users can buy and sell clothes in a sustainable fashion, or even having a browse in a local charity shop to see what hidden gems may lay inside, you never know what you might find.
Micro-trends are never going to go away, but if we educate ourselves and make more informed and less trend-driven choices when buying clothes, we will reduce waste and have an impactful outcome on the environment.