From Catwalk to Sidewalk: 5 Ways That Fashion Trends Start

We're all stuck in the trend cycle. Break free from the box by understanding how fashion trends start.

Updated February 11, 2024
Catwalk Runway Show

While no one should dictate what you wear, we all love getting inspiration from a hot-ticket trend. Snagging style tips from the latest fads is one of the reasons why we scroll social media for hours. Sure, it's true that trends come and go, but slipping the ones that work for you into your personal style is where it's at. And the best way to stay abreast of any potential inspo is by understanding how fashion trends start and why some of them stick around.

5 Ways That Fashion Trends Start

Maybe you saw someone walking down the street in an incredible outfit. Your eyes took a snapshot of their look and you thumbed through your own closet to recreate it. That's OG influencer stuff and one way that authentic trends emerge. But it's not the only way.

Trends originate through five key avenues: the runway, street style, celebrities, fashion bloggers, and through fashion capitals of the world.

1. Runway Trends

Fashion Week has its reputation for serving elite style for an excellent reason. Fashion editors, bloggers, influencers, and celebs sit front row to see designers' latest looks, both well-known and just starting out.

What comes down the runway is the culmination of months and months of creativity. It's sometimes weird, always wonderful, and packed full of innovative looks you'll want to add to your wardrobe.

Designers are the authority on style and what they send down the runway impacts what you see in magazines, social media, on celebs, and in stores. But it's not just the designs themselves. It's also how they piece everything together, how they style their models' hair, makeup, and accessories, as well as the show's overall vibe. 

Trends From the Catwalk

See it, do it — that's how fast it happens in fashion. When a style gives you those excited butterflies, then that's when you know you've got to incorporate it into an outfit. Here are a couple of examples of runway moments that sparked trends:

  • The soft goth look circa 2023 came straight from the Etro's Autumn/Winter '23 runway to TikTok. It wasn't just the clothing, dripping with tartan, black lace, with Victorian-era influences, but also the blackest black eye makeup and sheer purple-hued lips on models. 
  • Blazers, polo shirts, and all things preppy were a major 2024 runway theme for Gucci, Miu Miu, and Dries Van Notten. Everyone in the know suddenly had the urge to wear a striped button-down.

2. Street Style

Spend any time in NYC and you'll waste hours sitting in Tompkins Square Park and people watching. You'll see (and be inspired by) so much eye-catching fashion. This is where street style gets its name and reputation for being edgier, grittier, and more utilitarian than anything that crosses the runway. 

Street style isn't just found in NYC, of course. You can see it all over the world in larger cities or college towns. However, you shouldn't discount going to the local fast-food joint to spot teens daring to push the envelope with their fashion choices!

There are two major reasons it's so easy to be inspired by street style. 

  • Street-style looks are easier to recreate in most instances because it doesn't usually come from high-end designers. It's more like, oh! A polo with a voluminous skirt? I can do that!
  • Folks get excited seeing other people in cool styles — that makes it feel easier to pull off. It's less intimidating to translate a style to your own body when you see it worn on a body like yours. 

Iconic Street Style Trends

Born on the streets, these trends were first spotted out in the wild. Now, they're iconic and flit in and out of highly-coveted style now and then.

Young woman wearing Lolita style clothes on Takeshita Dori in Harajuku
  • Skaterwear: Think oversized pants, tiny tops, t-shirts with graphics, and anything associated with skateboarder culture.
  • Harajuku style: This maximalist Tokyo street style is drenched in candy colors and a sweet, anything-goes boldness.
  • Festival: It's the quintessential Coachella look — boho, floppy hats, fringe, and a hippie sense of freedom.  

Related: 5 Ways to Keep Up With Fashion Trends & Master the Moment

3. Celebrities

Celebs are the trend makers — from the glittery gold looks that Beyonce rocks to Billie Eilish's notorious oversized outfits — all of them are a driving force in trend creation. The fact that celebrities are highly influential marketing machines is the very reason why huge companies partner with them to be the face of new product launches. 

Due to their huge fan base, celebrities immediately have a bigger (and more reliable) reach than fashion magazines. They're style icons, often photographed wherever they go, so they are a great source of inspiration. 

Celeb-Soaked Trends

Celebs have been and will continue to inspire trends, and two of our latest favorites are knee-high leather boots and Barbiecore. 

Margot Robbie attends Barbie European Premiere
  • Knee-high leather boots: Everyone from Rihanna to Sophie Turner to Florence Pugh stepped out in showstopping knee-high leather boots. 
  • Barbiecore: Margot Robbie wore it in the movie, but Lizzo, Kylie Jenner, and Doja Cat went full-on bright pink Barbiecore in real life. Thus, a legendary trend was born!
Need to Know

Being trendy isn't synonymous with being conventional. Even the coolest subcultures have their own trends that circulate through their ranks. 

4. Fashion Bloggers

Bloggers are fashion influencers — they show the rest of us how to wear the latest looks, and start new trends. It's all about styling and daring to try something a little different. Add a few hashtags and before long, the views climb and you start noticing a new trend everywhere. 

Fashion bloggers take our voyeuristic interest in celebrity fashion one step further with a how-to and why. They spend the time and energy combing through the latest catalogs to make staying on trend so much easier for the rest of us.  

Fashion Bloggers With Major Influence

From traditional blogs to huge social media presences, these fashion bloggers help us stay up-to-date on all the latest trends. 

  • Camila Coehlo: With 10 million Instagram followers, Camila Coehlo has her own brand that sells on Revolve. She's known for her incredible style, but also her warmth and candidness. When she wears something — anything — folks are paying attention. 
  • Gabi Fresh: As one of the first plus-size bloggers, Gabi Fresh is super influential, showing us all how to rock stripes, swimsuits, bold prints, and monochrome with confidence.

5. Fashion Capitals of the World

While you can find fashion trends anywhere, there are certain fashion hubs known for their incredible style. New York City, Paris, Milan, and London are currently the fashion capitals of the world. And yes, they host the Super Bowl of fashion every year — Fashion Week.

But how does a cityscape influence fashion? Imagine this: An open-air cafe in Paris or Milan. A bench in the center of downtown NYC or London. In all of these places, expect to be inspired by the folks walking around, minding their own business, but looking incredible while doing it. Designers, fashion lovers, bloggers, and editors flock to these hotspots to capture unique trends and immortalize them in their sketch books. 

Trends Taken From the Fashion Capitals

Every fashion capital around the world has its own signature style that transcends its borders and takes the world by storm. 

Woman wearing red trendy boots and trench coat
  • Mini skirts: You can thank Mary Quant and late 50s London for the mini skirts in your closet. It was pure rebellion then and is still going strong. 
  • Dr. Martens: First designed in 1960, this British brand was all about function and it didn't take long for their shoes to become a hallmark of punk rock culture. And edgy teens still rock docs today. 

How the Trend Cycle Works

Trends don't die, they're involved in an ever-rotating lifecycle. Trends heat up, then cool down, and eventually circle back to the beginning again. Just like we can't escape getting older, fashion trends can't escape the trend cycle. 

  1. A trend is introduced through one of the five ways: runway, street style, celebrities, fashion bloggers, and fashion capitals of the world.
  2. People in the know, readers of fashion magazines, blogs, etc, start replicating the trend in their everyday style. People at work, school, or out and about take notice. The trend starts rising in popularity.
  3. The trend hits its peak. It's not only the cool folks at the corner cafe wearing the trend, it's the kids in high school, the great aunts wanting to feel young, and so on. It starts to lose the cutting-edge appeal that made it a trend in the first place.
  4. The trend begins to fade. It's still awesome, but it's become oversaturated. Folks start moving on to the next trend and leave this one in the back of the closet.
  5. Sometimes it disappears completely. Other times it lies dormant for years before reemerging anew. Then it moves back to the beginning of the line, rinse, and repeat. 
Need to Know

Trends tend to stick around for a bit, but fads fade fast. Fads usually hit out of nowhere, but are so hot that the sizzle makes them burn up and disappear. 

Be Your Own Trendsetter 

Fashion trends can be born out of anything, and you can be a trendsetter right along with designers, folks on the street, fashion bloggers, and celebrities. It's not just about the style of the outfit, but also about how you wear it, accessorize it, and the personal twist you add to it. Half the fun of getting inspired is being inspiring yourself! 

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From Catwalk to Sidewalk: 5 Ways That Fashion Trends Start