Did micro-trends kill the trend cycle?

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Last summer saw a quick succession of micro-trends: Sofia Richie Grainge’s wedding in the South of France boosted quiet luxury, Hailey Bieber cemented tomato (and strawberry) girl summer with beach shots to match her Rhode products, while Margot Robbie drove Barbiecore into the mainstream with her dedication to method dressing.

The trend cycle accelerated, and trends became even more niche. But in recent weeks, the tides have turned. Less ‘cores’ are making their way from TikTok feeds to fashion publications, and the fashion crowd is wondering whether the coolest thing to do is not to trend at all, a question posed by Vogue’s Julia Hobbs for British Vogue’s June issue. Meanwhile, others are writing about summer 2024’s ‘trend’ of leaning into personal style, straddling the industry’s current grapple with the algorithm and current culture’s need to define and name micro-trends. Pinterest is offering up more weird word combos, like ‘tomboy femme’ and ‘Y3K aesthetic’.

Are we gearing up for a summer sans micro-trends? If these aesthetic trends are the result of hyper-online dressing and scrolling, might this summer signal a turning point back to dressing — and marketing — for the physical world we’re living in?

Micro-trends fade, but trends last forever

Trends aren’t yet on their way out, argues trend forecaster Agus Panzoni, who is also Depop’s trends spokesperson. What is on the decline, is the need to categorise styles into hyper-niche aesthetics.

“We’re moving away from the need to say, ‘These items put together are an aesthetic,’ and moving towards a more fluid state,” Panzoni says. Instead of “grabbing” an aesthetic as a whole, consumers can take elements and incorporate them into their own style. “This shift is why we haven’t seen a micro-trend pop in a little bit,” she says.

This is, in part, down to early fashion fans distancing themselves from the mainstream (where these trends proliferate) in a push back against algorithms that blast the same “micro” trends to the masses, says Rukiat Ashawe, editorial and social executive at marketing agency The Digital Fairy.

It doesn’t mean we’re ushering in an era of complete individuality — certain items are picking up steam as summer trends, says Panzoni. On Depop, searches for “mesh” are up 47 per cent since January, “sheer” is up 34 per cent, “micro shorts” up 234 per cent, and “tank top” up 212 per cent. The fact that these are generic, summery items, rather than specifically worded aesthetic categories, may well signal a shift beyond the need to label so intently.


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