Zeitgeist in Fashion

The Milan Fashion Week has just passed. Runways have been the stage for so many new fashion trends. With every season bringing in something new trends to the fashion industry one cannot help but wonder: Where do these trends come from? As any fashion lover knows, fashion is not only about brand labels and dressing up pretty; fashion is a reflection of global flows around us including cultural, technological, political happenings. The industry tries to reflect these on the runways. This is what “zeitgeist” is; this word literally means the spirit of time. Trends are all about capturing zeitgeist.

the cut
Courtesy of The Cut

A fashion show today reflects the issues of today. Let’s take into account last year’s trends. Who can forget Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirts? Moreover, the color pink had its year on the runways. One can clearly see reflection of current politic situation on runways. The diversity on the fashion weeks was also another reflection of the surroundings. Hijabi models walked runways making a statement. Zeitgeist was present again in the Asian influence on fashion. The generally pessimistic mood has taken over the runways and the brands that captured it, like Balenciaga and Vetements, were popular. This is not something new; fashion has always captured spirit of time. The industry catches zeitgeist not only in marketing strategies but also in the brand and design itself. With the first women’s march, runways were full of mini skirts and the peace movements brought bohemian fashion in to the spotlight. Trends have a close relation with time and spirit of time.

Courtesy of Hermes

What about tradition, where does tradition find its place in a world of “reflection”? I was inspired to write this article while I was listening to the speech of Toni Belloni from LVMH. He mentioned that Louis Vuitton or Hermes would not be in our lives without the French heritage of kings, aristocrats and Paris. We cannot expect having the same trend on every show without a touch of the brand. The relationship between the brand and the spirit of time is delicate; it can make a brand lose identity or make it old-fashioned in the blink of an eye. Mr. Belloni added that brands are not material objects but rather ecosystems of products, values, heritage, and ideas… In the new era there is a dialogue between people and brands and time passes so much faster. Brands don’t even get to blink!

Courtesy of Balenciaga

Now brands even have a greater duty to listen to the people and deliver. It is crucial to capture what is happening around us in every industry; however when it comes to creative industries, such as fashion, this capturing becomes even more figurative. A big brand cannot act as blind to the world events, especially when we take into account the speed of communication nowadays.

Discussing the relation of time, and what happens with time, and fashion raises some questions. In a rapidly changing world are 2 seasons enough to capture the spirit of time? In a world that is increasingly interconnected, how much should fashion be involved in politics, migration issues and so on? The borders are disappearing, in a “borderless” world how will fashion take its act to capture the happenings? Only time can show.

Many thanks to Mr. Belloni for the inspiring speech!

Pelin Atan


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