Are we living in an era when the traditional fashion cycle is dying off? That it’s more about the popular buzz than seasonal trends? Creative HEAD Magazine and La Côterie tried to answer this pressing question by bringing together four beauty and fashion professionals in London to debate the topic. FAB was there too to bring you an overview of this fascinating evening.
Do Beauty Trends Still Exist?
It was in the cosy atmosphere of the Hoxton hotel’s private salon in London that La Côterie, a British networking organization dedicated to hairstyling and fashion professionals, held its final round-table discussion for 2016. Among the many issues discussed there was one in particular that was at the heart of the evening: in an era of social networks, it-girls and DIY beauty, do beauty trends really still exist?
Four experts were invited to try to answer the question, including: Harry Evans, an international rising star in the world of fashion and winner of L’Oréal Professionnel’s Creative Award in February 2016; Maggie Norden, communications director for the London College of Fashion; and Jayson Gray, a stylist and colorist who is better known under his pseudonym Karbon Kyd. There was also a very welcome, surprise guest: the president of BeautyMART Anna-Marie Solowij.
The End Of Seasonal Trends
Our attitudes towards trends are strongly influenced by the way society itself is changing. In recent years, these changes have mainly encompassed the acceleration and compression of time, and the increasingly digital nature of our lifestyles and habits. In this context, traditional beauty media outlets have perhaps failed to adapt quickly enough for a continually changing world. For Harry Evans, this explains why people are getting increasingly bored of seeing the same things over and over again. By spreading and sharing new looks as soon as they appear, social networks seem to be overtaking traditional fashion magazines, even making them obsolete.
More broadly, the whole of the traditional trends cycle seems to be broken down. The long-held concept of seasonal collections, in both the worlds of fashion and beauty, is increasingly labeled as outdated. As Harry said: “The traditional rhythm consisting of producing four collections per year isn’t durable in the long term anymore, and what’s more it causes a lot of burn-out among industry professionals. So many designers just want to create when they feel inspired to, without having to worry about any format or calendar.”
The Rising Power Of Viral Fashions
So in this new context, just who are the public’s most popular trendsetters? According to Anna-Marie Solowij, these days there are two main types of influencers. On the one hand, there are companies that are able to shift and define trends over the long term. On the other, there are so-called micro-influencers who launch and develop viral campaigns on their own social networks. This range of influences allows people to better define and choose their own personal style. Fashion is no longer just a question of how long your hair is, but rather a unique form of self-expression. For the president of BeautyMart, “Memes are the new trends. We may all have similar ideas, but the way we express them and make them our own is different for each individual.”
In Maggie Norden’s opinion, stylists and designers now need to play around with this environment and its multiple disciplines to invent bespoke styles: “People expect us to help them flaunt their true personality and, in a way, that’s what professional stylists have always done.”
Brands: Responsive Or Deaf?
In this brave new world, will brands now be forced to adapt to external trends and fashions, the very same ones that they dictated themselves just a few years ago? According to Jayson Gray, it’s a characteristic of the changing times we’re living in that, for example with regard to hairstyling products, the most popular movements are away from the innovations being offered by big brands. Nowadays, the popularity of a product can depend much more on its ingredients, for example, than on any major innovation developed by a large company.
Nevertheless, “traditional big brands can still boast their unique relationship to quality”, Jayson was quick to point out. Anna-Marie agreed that “if we like a product, it’s because it makes us feel good, and so we’ll always come back for more”. Maggie summed up her opinion by saying, “I believe that in order to hold onto their influence and commercial force, fashion and beauty brands need to find the right balance between gaining consumer trust, providing functionality and inspiring a touch of magic.”
So if in the future the power to set trends belongs to individuals and not brands, that would allow every single one of us to become the creator of our own looks, rather than just following those dished out by others… We’ll soon find out.