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In a general sense, a fad is a desirable trend. It provokes much enthusiasm and energy for a limited period and then fades. A fad relies on popularity, as behavior or an object becomes a fad when a big number of people start adopting it. When the perception of novelty is gone, fads remain the things of the past. Fads make our life more colorful and serve as “vehicles for amusement” (Hoffman & Ramirez, 2014, p. 1). Fashion fads are the short-lived trends in the fashion industry that attracts the attention of a wide public and invade the fashion stores. However, they are quickly forgotten and become part of the history (e.g. scrunchie in the 80s-90s).
Fads have a significant but limited impact on the fashion industry. Except for being short-termed, they have other distinctive features. Fashion fads are usually accepted by a certain group of people. For example, acid-washed jeans that were a popular fashion fad in the 80s could be adopted only by the youth and were not likely to be accepted by the whole population. Wearing flowers in the hair or putting on a t-shirt with “Make love, not war” were the fashion fads of the 60s that could be accepted only by hippies, and not by people working in offices and public institutions. Another distinctive feature of fashion fads is their dependence on cultural and religious attitudes in society. For example, cut tops, which are currently one of the fashion fads in the Western world, can hardly be adopted in the societies guided by religious and cultural restrictions. In other words, what becomes a fashion fad in the United States can hardly become a fashion fad in the United Arab Emirates.
One more distinctive feature of fashion fads is that they often return to the fashion industry after a significant period. For example, high-waist jeans that were so popular in the 80s and the 90s, oversized sunglasses of the 60s, and fanny packs of the 90s seemed to be gone in the past. Low-waist jeans have been dominating the fashion industry for the last 10-15 years, and a high-waist variant was mostly considered odd and funny. However, this fad has returned to our fashion market recently and is gaining huge popularity. The same story goes with oversized sunglasses, fanny packs, and many other fashion items. One more feature of fashion fads is their relation to mass culture. A large group of fashion fads evolves as the direct consequence of the popularity of certain pop singers, movie, or series. Fans encourage the creation of a big amount of fashion fads, which disappear from the market as soon as the obsession with certain mass culture phenomenon decreases. For example, the huge popularity of the Titanic movie at the end of the 90s provoked a short-termed fashion for shirts with the image of the main heroes of the movie Rose and Jack.
Fads can make the designer’s life either more interesting or tense (Sumathi, 2007). The images of old fashion fads usually look funny and strange for ours, though we were accepting them as the most attractive fashion items in the past. However, as fashion is cyclic, so are the fashion fads (Meinhold, 2013). The items we can consider now the outdated and awkward things of the past can become our new obsessions in the nearest future.
Hoffman, F., & Ramirez, B. (2014). Fashion and merchandising fads. New York: Routledge.
Meinhold, R. (2013). Fashion myths: A cultural critique. Berlin: Verlag.
Sumathi, G. J. (2007). Elements of fashion and apparel design. New Delhi: New Age International Limites, Publishers.