The lifecycle of a trend is generally thought to be 20 years from its birth to its inevitable resurrection, yet today’s generation has managed to whittle that down to just a few months. At most. There's no doubt that social media is shaving down the attention spans of almost all of its users. Though you would have faith that the younger generation could cast their minds back a couple of months, the emergence of an old trend simply rebranded would prove that wrong. 

Nowadays, one short year is an impressive amount of time for a trend to stay alive. Whether it's bows or football jerseys, they all seem to be tossed to the side after their short-lived prime. This is deemed the microtrend, a phenomenon primarily aided by platforms such as TikTok over the past few years. Microtrends were arguably kickstarted by the pandemic where people generally had too much time on their hands and started to experiment as a result. 

Part of this experimentation resulted in TikTok creating a sort of aesthetics rivalry. By 2020, the video streaming platform had seemingly divided itself into self-proclaimed ‘alt tiktok’ and the side which housed the likes of Charli D'amelio and Addison Rae. Today, #alttiktok has over 3.2million posts consisting of branches including the likes of fairycore, cottagecore and the indie aesthetic. 

Along with this aesthetics rivalry, Y2K gained more popularity and seemed to stick around since - simply reinventing itself every few weeks. The popular indie aesthetic seemed to be Y2K in disguise at times. Cow print walls, small oval glasses and baby tees made a comeback yet those same people look back on this craze and cringe.

Here marks the birth of the microtrend. 

Disguised nostalgia 

These new and short-lived trends have often become a conversation starter, a chance for people to connect. In a world where standing out is encouraged, the newest slightly offbeat trend is an exciting opportunity for many people to express themselves. However, what many are oblivious to is that these microtrends take huge inspiration from major trends and cliques of the past. Take double denim, for instance. As 2023 came to an end, the internet speculated over the combo - advertised as a new and controversial fashion statement. Maybe it's that these same people were not exposed to the denim jacket and jeans rage of the 80s, or maybe it's that the subconscious longing for nostalgia finds itself bleeding into how we dress. 

Having said that, trends aren't a direct copy and paste of the past. Each generation puts its own spin on the last. Recently, Tiktok has been overcome by the Stargirl epidemic. Finding its way into accessories, nails and clothes to brand yourself as the ‘cool girl’. This seems revolutionary as if stars have just been invented, but the aesthetics are wildly similar to the rockstar girlfriend aesthetic which rose to light in the autumn of 2022. Even this at the time seemed like the next big thing, but the original rockstar girlfriend fascination started in the late 60s to 70s with the likes of Courtney Love and Pamela Anderson as the people’s muse. 

A more recent history is the Y2K craze. The term is a literal shorthand for the year 2000, however the term means so much more today. It took the likes of Paris Hilton as a blueprint, embracing the hot pink, lowrise and bleach blonde hair. Over time as people picked and chose what they loved about the style, variations sprouted from the term and it became a style all in itself. 

An unexpected derivative of this is the ‘old money’ aesthetic consisting of fur coats, oversized sunglasses and an emphasis on class. It seems to be the antithesis of the Y2K aesthetic yet it does take these characteristics from 90s/200s fashion. By this nostalgic style becoming a broader and more developed term than other short-lived trends, it seems to be sticking around for the long haul. 

Then again, that's what we thought about the 2019 indie epidemic. 

What's next?

Given this, it’s hard to tell what will live on and what we’ll leave in 2023. So what exactly is in store for 2024? 

2023 saw a lot of denim; summer was Jorts' time to shine, taking inspiration from the 90s skater aesthetic. Continuing with the underlying effect of Y2K, denim maxi skirts had a short burst of fame during the colder months. Double denim didn’t quite reach out to the wider world, perhaps 2024 is its year in the spotlight. The past years favoured the baggier fit, something that may continue this year alongside the probable appearance of slim-fit trousers. This is loosely following the reintroduction of office chic which popular online shops such as Motel Rocks are debuting.

Following this past winter, Uggs have made a comeback. The sheepskin shoe that peaked in popularity in the 2000s would have seemed tacky just a few years ago but the Y2K label has managed to resurrect them this winter. There's no doubt that another form of Y2K will find itself in this year's lookbook, 2024 seems to be moving away from the flashy pinks and introducing more muted tones yet bold patterns. This has resulted in leopard print starting to make a comeback this year which will likely continue to grow as we move on from the cold and rain. 

On the theme of cold weather, coloured tights are predicted to be spotted this year. This, along with the growing popularity of bows and ribbons hints at a focus on femininity this year. This is mimicked in the recent trends following girlhood on TikTok, introducing terms such as girl dinner and girl math giving an insight into this generation's way of thinking.

It seems that people are moving away from singular microtrends, and leaning more towards entire aesthetics or ‘cores’. Granted, this isn't an entirely new concept but today cores are styles inspired by others and open to interpretation. Take ‘blokecore’ for example, to anyone else this could roughly be described as 90s indie active fashion. Think of something your dad would wear to football - that's blokecore. Yet recently, this has been mixed with the hyper-feminine trends to create a new style - ‘blokette’. Taking inspiration from widely recognised masculine and feminine styles creates a new and exciting base for people to experiment with this year. 

Just from the first few weeks of this year, it's clear that Y2K will be sticking around as the overarching theme of fashion. But the focus on femininity and movement away from baggy styles may make 2024 a year of sophistication and class.

Doesn't sound good to you? Give it a year, and this will all be flipped again.

  • This article was written by Lola Hartland, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.