Reduce, reuse, recycle trends?


With every new decade comes a wave of trends and style choices unlike anything seen before. From accessories to various articles of clothing, the concept of “fashion” is ever changing. That being said, is “new” fashion ever really new?

With the recent social media revolution making it easy to spread information and communicate efficiently, it takes essentially no time at all for anyone around the world to gain access to the latest fashion. This is a quick switch from even 20 years ago when the exposure to worldwide fashion trends were much more limited.

Just in the last 10 years, it has become difficult to determine the difference between innovative trends and ones borrowed from years past. 

This raises the question of whether or not current fashion can even be coined as its own. Though it’s not uncommon to see people constantly pushing the limits of their wardrobe, it’s easy to trace back the origins of most modern outfits. 

Miniskirts? First created in 1964.

Bell bottoms? Normalized by the disco era of the 1970s.

Biker Shorts? A workout staple of the late 80s.

Doc Martens? An essential for any 1990s teen.

Senior Sadie Monday  said she feels like her wardrobe resembles that of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Illustration of former fashion inspriation Princess Diana and current fashion sensation Bella Hadid

“A lot of what I wear consists of cropped graphic tees and ripped jeans. I definitely notice a lot of similarities between what I wear and what I see in movies from the 1990s and 2000s and I think a lot of girls relate to that,” Monday said.  

While fashion trends from decades ago are constantly finding their way back into pop culture, there is still a substantial amount of trends that have been developed on their own; but, even then, there’s a catch.

Due to the overwhelming, constantly progressing power of the internet, few trends have the ability to last longer than a month or two. When a trend becomes less popular and starts dying out, it can also cause various issues with pollution and extreme amounts of waste released into the environment since the fabrics necessary to create clothing for certain trends serves less of a purpose. Since trends are rotating like clockwork, the term “fast fashion” has become all too familiar, but also all too dangerous. 

Fast fashion is the process of large scale companies like SHEIN creating cheaply made clothes and accessories to keep up with the latest trends before they die out. It has become an effective way for consumers to purchase clothes that stay up to date with what’s “in”, and do it in a cost effective way.

While Monday is no stranger to the ins and outs of fashion development through her time as runway and advertisement model where creating new ideas are celebrated, she understands the appeal and ease of fast fashion.

“I’m fully guilty of using websites famous for fast fashion methods. I think the main appeal of it is the fact that it costs basically nothing to get clothes that I like and it’s just a couple clicks away. The only downside is that it’s rare a top I get lasts more than a month or two, but I think that’s especially the point.”

While fast fashion may come off as a smart way to market the latest fads without the risk of losing momentum, it has proven to be an extremely toxic cycle that is not only harmful to the fashion industry, but to the environment., a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the issues facing the environment and proposing ways to fix them, explains that “fashion production comprises 10% of total global carbon emissions…It dries up water sources and pollutes rivers and streams, while 85% of all textiles go to dumps each year.”

With the notoriously quick turnaround of trends in the last decade, the fashion industry has had no choice but to transition to more synthetic fabrics versus natural ones in the past; this is just another culprit in the widespread effect the fashion industry has on pollution.

But, there’s no reason why today’s culture can’t adapt and commit to a safer and more environmentally friendly trend cycle. 

Considering that clothing pieces like high waisted jeans, (a trend brought to light in the 80s), have made their return, it’s easy to find companies such as Levi that are dedicated to using the highest quality denim for your next outfit instead of jeans more heavily produced with polyester which, according to Matt Simon, a science journalist for, “account for 22 to 51% of [microfibers] found in the deep-sea Arctic, shallow suburban lakes around Toronto, and the Huron and Ontario Great Lakes.”

Yes, there is a sense of ease knowing that there are easy ways to purchase the latest trending clothes, but in the long run, the environment needs to be saved; acid washed jeans do not. 

Though fashion is really nothing more than just a concept, today’s culture is based on using ideas it already knows and utilizing them in new and inventive ways. In the future, it’s hard to determine whether or not trends will evolve and change like they do now, but there is no question that what is seen as modern and new today will be merely a style “throwback” tomorrow.

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