Microtrends vs Vintage: The Affordable Fashion Spectrum

In today’s fashion sphere, there is a spectrum unfolding before our eyes. On one end, we have fast fashion and micro trends spiraling out of control, and on the other side, we see the vintage and resale market booming with growth potential. Many ask what is the common thread? 

The answer is TikTok.

 TikTok has adopted a faster pace for trend cycles. Microtrends come and go within a matter of weeks, or even less. A famous example of a situation like this would be the House of Sunny Hockney dress, which was posted in 2021 by Kendall Jenner and almost immediately sold out. This green, figure-hugging knit dress was beautiful and subsequently ripped off by every fast fashion seller at a fraction of its cost. Everyone and their sister bought this dress or the dupes. When scrolling on Instagram or other TikTok, there it was, in its green swirly glory. As a result, overconsumption, influencer culture, virality and the speed of fast fashion manufacturers are to blame.

 Another example of increased fast fashion and micro trends occurred just a few weeks ago with the short platform Ugg. Bella Hadid was snapped by the paparazzi wearing a moto jacket, white boxer shorts and socks with the now sold-out and back-ordered short platform Ugg boots. The following day, I came across an image of a girl with the entire outfit recreated, down to the scrunch in the sock. Compared to the long history of runways, catalogs and magazines dominating the trend cycle, this amount of speed is something the fashion industry is not used to. Nowadays, trends have a higher visibility factor. With that said, we can see something we like, order it and have it within a matter of hours. Of course, at the cost of our planet and fair labor conditions.

 On the other end of the spectrum, we have the great vintage surge and reselling market growing at an even faster rate than fast fashion and 11 times that of traditional retail. Like the legend of the tortoise and the hair, secondhand goods are projected to take up 13% of our closets by 2025, while fast fashion will only account for 9%. This is particularly appealing to younger generations for many factors: uniqueness, sustainability, affordability and quality. I fall on this side, as probably 90% of my wardrobe is made up of thrift and eBay finds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the House of Sunny dress and its dupes at the thrift shops.

 It’s a known fact that the quality of clothing was better way back then. Today, Americans wear pieces an average of five times, followed by discarding them, which is reflected in the quality. The reason this has exploded is also due to TikTok and social media overall, as they make fashion history accessible. An example of this would be Y2K fashion’s recent blowup. You could either buy new imitations from fast fashion brands that will always be a little inaccurate and eventually disintegrate or go to the thrift store and obtain actual pieces from the 2000s for less money! The clothing has already stood the test of time. The rejection of microtrends defines an exploration of personal style, which symbolizes eclectic takes on previous decades combined into whatever suits the individual’s aesthetic. Vintage shoppers want one-of-a-kind pieces – or at least something you won’t see on every other person walking down the street. Upcycling falls into this category as well, since people have embraced their Covid crafts such as sewing and crochet, which they’ve used to customize their closets.

 Fast fashion has tried to capitalize on the reselling market with companies such as Shein and Pacsun, introducing platforms to resell used clothing on their respective apps, including Kourtney Kardashian’s appointment as BooHoo’s “sustainability ambassador.”

 The overflow of TikTok content means the consumer’s attention span is shorter than ever. When it comes to affordable pieces, new items have an incredibly short lifecycle. The solution may be in future trends, in which resale is the new norm. This would benefit the planet, our wallets and our closets with some cool yet unique pieces.