Who Dictates Fashion Trends?

Question: Who dictates fashion?

Valerie Steele: Nobody really dictates fashion. I think a lot of people believe that designers are kind of cabal who plot that they will have a new style and then that will put everything you have out of fashion. It doesn’t work that way. Most fashion changes incrementally, a little bit season by season. Editors are gatekeepers of a sort- they are presenting what they think are the important trends. And retailers are also gatekeepers of a sort. They buy what they think their customers will ultimately purchase.

But the fashion is not only in clothes, but also in food, and music, and even names. If you name your child Christopher, and you suddenly discover that there are lots of other little Christophers in his nursery school class, there is no group of people who are promoting the idea of naming your child Christopher. There’s no money behind it, no advertising campaign, but names go in trends just as clothes do. It really is kind of mysterious; something in the air moving from what was the most popular style or name, or dance style. Last season, kind of gradually, individual designers can have an input in that, but as Christian Dior said, they’re just proposing, ultimately it’s the customers who decide what’s going to be the new fashion.

Question: What will this era be remembered for?

Valerie Steele: It’s very hard to sum up a decade. And decades don’t really quite work in terms of fashion. We do think of the 70’s as the decade that taste forgot. You know? And the 80’s as a kind of sort of decade of excess, the 90’s of minimalism. Or sometimes people talk about the 90’s in terms of grunge, but that was a much more short-lived term. My guess would be that people will look back at the early 21st Century; they would start to see more and more globalism in fashion. Particularly the rise of Russia and China as more of an influence. These are people who are buying more and more of the fashions. They’re producing more, and I think they are going to be much bigger players in fashion. So, I would guess that when we look back on it, we’ll say, “Oh, we didn’t notice so much at the time,” but a lot of the taste that is being expressed is really appealing to say, the new Chinese high-fashion customer.

Recorded on September 24, 2009

According to fashion historian Valerie Steele, nobody does—not even magazine editors, designers or celebrities.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less