The way we look
What’s so bad about looking good? Angela, 16, reports on the upside and origins of fashion trends. WITH PHOTO GALLERY.
For the past year, I’ve been noticing girls wearing menswear vests, wide belts or leggings. I have always loved seeing how trends develop, how each person takes an idea and makes it his or her own. But where do these trends start?
Today, leggings are a major trend. But nobody was wearing them last winter. What drove the sudden surge of leggings, under miniskirts, under dresses or even on their own? Perhaps it was the girl at school who wore them first. Maybe it was a picture of Sienna Miller in US Weekly, or a photo in Vogue. But where it began was Fashion Week—Fall 2006, to be exact. That’s because what we wear usually reflects the ideas of fashion designers.
Of course, these same designers are also inspired by street style. Marc Jacobs’ grunge collection in 1992 for Perry Ellis was heavily influenced by Seattle’s grunge scene—flannel, Doc Martens, “anti-fashion”—interpreted as “heroin chic.” More than a decade later, I see designers sending updated grunge-inspired looks down the runway and into magazines like Teen Vogue. Today, “grunge” looks with flannel and lots of layers can be found at Forever 21 and H&M.
Like with grunge, sometimes the parallels in high fashion and teen fashion are shown through rebellion. At my school, many girls slice the collar or cut off the sleeves of free event T-shirts. Last year, I visited the Breaking the Mode exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which was about designers who did what these girls did. One of Hussein Chalayan’s dresses is even pieced together with safety pins like the ones teens use on their T-shirts. At first, I was surprised—how was this fashion if everyone at school was already doing it? Then I realized that trends are created by both designers and regular people.
What used to be a rebellious statement, whether of teenagers or designers, can become a fashion trend. When designers first exposed innerwear, it was scandalous. Now satin lingerie-like camisoles seen on high school campuses can be found anywhere from Wal-Mart to Neiman Marcus.
Today’s teenagers have a more direct connection to designers than ever before. H&M has collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld, who designs both Fendi and Chanel. Even Target, with its GO International junior’s line, has brought fashion to the masses—that is, you and me. Right now, Proenza Schouler’s collection is in Target stores, to be followed in May by Patrick Robinson’s collection.
Instead of paying $1,350 for a Proenza Schouler bustier dress, we can buy a much more affordable bustier top at Target for $49.99. I’m not insisting that you should rush to these stores with everyone else to buy the new affordable look-a-like cropped jacket. I just think it’s cool that the access that we have now to more high-end designers allows us to incorporate their ideas into our wardrobes. Fashion is a combination of trends and individuality to form personal style. Even if you consider yourself “anti-fashion,” like it or not, style shows who you are.
I often hear people ridiculing designers and the models that walk down the runway wearing towering heels or eccentric layers. I also hear people criticizing those who dress differently or “spend too much time getting ready in the morning.” Both are often dismissed with a “Who would wear that, anyway?” Still, I think we should appreciate the innovative designers and teenagers who influence who we are and how we show it. It’s hard to be new and different. But when one person breaks the mold, as many designers and teenagers have done, it gives everyone else the chance to try a new look and begin a new trend.