Fashion trends change all the time. This is known as the fashion cycle.

What Is a Fashion Trend?

Fashion trends are when a certain item, silhouette or color gains popularity. A trend or fad can be influenced by many factors, such as iconic celebrity outfits, fashion designers, textile manufacturers, and fashion merchandising companies. Fashion trends are cyclical. They go through five stages that begin with the introduction of a trend and end with its obsolescence. After a trend has reached its peak, it will start to lose popularity and become unfashionable. It then enters the end of the cycle where consumers and the fashion industry reject it. The cyclical nature fashion means that the trend you reject may be able to re-enter it’s cycle once it is old.

What Is The Fashion Cycle?

A fashion cycle is a natural process by which a trend in fashion is introduced, becomes mainstream, then declines and is finally rejected at the obsolescence stage. Here’s a breakdown of each stage in a fashion cycle.


The stage of the introduction is where a new style enters the fashion industry. This can be part a new haute couture design, a well-known model, or a calculated marketing campaign by a manufacturer or agency. This style is often only available in limited quantities, and can be found at very high prices.


The “fashion acceptance” stage, also known as the “fashion growth” stage, is where a new fashion style gains momentum and traction within the fashion industry. It officially receives the “trend” label. The rise stage is when more fashion trendsetters and leaders wear outfits that incorporate this idea. This increases consumer demand. This acceptance by fashion influencers has led to more retailers carrying the trend.


The peak stage is when the trend reaches full saturation among the general public and everyday consumers start to wear it. The trend will be recognized by most retailers and will be readily available for mass production, particularly at lower prices.


The trend will be oversaturated on the market during the decline stage. This is when the popularity of the trend will start to turn consumers off, who desire unique and fashion-forward outfits.


A trend that has been discontinued at the end of a fashion cycle is considered out-of-fashion and outdated by mainstream fashion wearers. They have moved on to more recent trends in the increase or introduction stages. Obsolescence does not mean that a trend that has been rejected will never return to the fashion cycle. This cycle is constantly in a state of repetition. It brings back “old fashions” to keep them moving forward in fashion. The life cycle of jeans waistlines is an example: High-waisted jeans were most popular in the 1940s, late 1970s, early 1980s, 2010s, and again in the 2000s. Low-waisted jeans, however, saw peak popularity in the 1960s, late 1990s, and early 2000s.

How To Use The Fashion Cycle In The Design Process

Fashion cycle knowledge can prove to be an invaluable resource for aspiring fashion designers. These are some ways you can use your knowledge about the fashion cycle to enhance your design process.

  • Focus on the need fulfillment and not the trends.

Burnout can result from spending too much time trying to find the next trend. Fashion moves quickly. Sometimes, a fashion style can change in a matter of months. Instead of worrying about fashion trends, consider “filling needs”. For example, oversized coats may still be in style but there might not be enough demand for slim, comfortable coats. Think about your fashion needs and how your designs can appeal to them. Your fashion line will be more authentic to you than it is to follow trends.

  • Change is normal.

Your design may be a big trend but once it reaches its peak, it will start to fall and eventually be rejected. It is important to understand that obsolescence happens with all trends and not just yours. You and your designs will change throughout your career as fashion changes are constant.

  • Use your intuition.

You may decide to discontinue a style that is becoming out of fashion. Consider making a particular silhouette or design a staple in your collection, instead of trying to catch the next fashion trend. If you want to make a timeless garment that people love, it is important to listen to your instincts and not follow the fashion trends. The iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg’s signature wrap dress is a great example of how staying true to your designs can lead to long-term success. Designer Diane von Furstenberg’s signature wrap dress, which was first created by Charles James in 1930s, was released in the 1970s to great critical acclaim. Furstenberg added her own twist to the dress by adding a collar and lengthening the sleeves to make it a versatile, elegant silhouette that can be worn on a date or at work. Furstenberg made this dress a staple in her collection and it is still a fashion favorite decades later.