Search just about anything with the suffix -core on TikTok and chances are it’s been made into a trend. An endless parade of new curated identities and aesthetics seem to be emerging every day: clean girl, that girl, mall girl, skater, Y2K, barbiecore, fairycore, whimsigoth. This prominence of microtrends is linked with fast fashion and an online culture where ‘outfit repeating’ is a taboo. But while this hyperconsumerism has devastating impacts on the environment, the narrative that these micro trends are the main problem might be a little too simplistic, and here’s why.
There have always been trend cycles
It’s first worth noting that there have been issues with the fashion industry since long before social media was around. The very notion of collections being released every season, now a standard practice for almost every brand, is part of planned obsolescence: last year’s summer outfits must be replaced with this year’s to stay ‘in style.’ Trends (micro and otherwise) have always come and gone much quicker than was sustainable. The Internet has simply put this process into hyperdrive.
It’s ok to not know who you are
It’s easy to see why some of these aesthetics are popular – they come with a set of rules that you can use to pick things out. When you pick up an item in the store, instead of pondering the difficult question of is this me? you can simply hold it up against the digital rubric. It can also help to create a sense of identity and community with other people who have similar tastes.
The standard answer to this conundrum is to drop trends in favour of ‘your own unique style.’ But for most people, figuring out an individual style is an immense amount of pressure, and ultimately unattainable. Everyone’s style is influenced by something, whether it’s current trends or trends from a previous decade. And everyone changes over time, trading old interests for new ones.
Fashion is fun – just engage responsibly
It’s only natural that your tastes are influenced by the things you see online. So it’s fine if you take inspiration from a trend on TikTok. The important thing is how you source those clothes, and what your attitude is going into the purchase. It’s always best to buy from sustainable brands or secondhand. Look for quality as well as style, and view your purchase as a long-term commitment, and not just something you’ll wear for a few months.
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