Last year, my niece and nephew came to visit me. We were getting ready to go out and I wore my Guns and Roses hoodie and a pair of turquoise pants/jeans. My niece looked at me and said, “You look like an Auntie from the 70s.” (Auntie: Malaysian word for old fashioned, also used as a sign of respect, so it tends to get confusing when used in public) Needless to say, I was appalled—I wasn’t even thought of in the 70s. This year, people are stopping me on the streets to ask me where I bought my turquoise pants because dull colours are out. Suddenly, I’m in. Sayonara, Auntie status. So what happened? The gods on fashion Olympus (Paris, Milan, London and New York) are what happened. They decided that if you’re wearing pants, they need to shout, “Groovy, Baby!” And out of nowhere, my interesting pants are no longer embarrassing.
Trends. They’re apparently what makes the world go round (or oval or square, whatever’s IN at the moment). But why? I’ve been reading up on trends and I must say no one really wants to give an official statement about it. Most articles talk about the importance of trends and how you will forever be a social outcast if you don’t follow a certain trend but no one can tell me why we do it. From what I’ve read, it’s safe to deduce that people just need to fit in. When I was little there was a cartoon called Jem and the Misfits. Jem was the perfect girl and the misfits were the opposite with their crazy outfits and warrior make-up. I wanted to be a Misfit, but every week, we were brainwashed into believing that only Jem got the guy, fame and fortune while the Misfits either fell into a bucket of goo at the end or were booed off screen. So I had to go with Jem and her star shaped earrings.
The need to conform affects all of us, be it at work, school or with friends. I personally have a bunch of friends who have very little in common with each other, making my life always fun (My BFFs: The Intellectual, The Fitness Freak, The Fashion Diva, The Cosmetics Queen, The Health Expert and The Creature of the Night). We wear what we want as long as we look good and we don't care if we're being too loud in a restaurant. However, if you go shopping and the only thing hanging on the racks are leopard print tops (again because of MPLNY Olympus Convention 2011), you’re going to have to buy at least one.
My only problem with trends is their significance in the literary world. At the moment, I write for young adults and everyone says that they’re the most "susceptible" to whatever’s new. So do I need to make sure that I mention social networking and Hipsters in my novels? (“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”--http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hipster)
I don’t know. I personally believe that readers are constantly bombarded with these things everyday and would maybe like a break once in awhile. (Bring out the trumpets please) In comes my novel of a faraway land that runs on magic alone. Incorporating trends in a novel can get tricky, especially if the writer is trying to make their novel a timeless experience. (I don’t know if I like the image of someone picking it up in 20 years and saying, “Holy Fiber Glass! They still had Farmville in this.”)
Trends are great; they bring gusts of fresh air into our lives and stay until they get stale. Although I don’t religiously follow trends, I do like to check out what’s new and IN, simply because I might find something nice that I have never thought of wearing or doing before. In a way, trends help us decide what kind of people we are or would like to be. However, independent thinking is even better and I think that young adults are the best at this. If they follow trends, they do it with a passion that could put boot camp trainers to shame and if they decide to go their own way, they also do it with total conviction (hence the birth of the Hipsters). I love it! Be the best that you can be and follow your heart till there’s nothing left to follow. If someone has a problem with your Nerd glasses and floral pants, let them take it up with Vogue and co.