By Revekah Echols

Are universal trends a thing of the past?

Fashion is not the island it once was. The direction of trends and fashion used to weigh heavily in the top down manner, but now the current goes bottom up, side to side and even diagonally at times. There is no uniform trickle up or down dispersion system; it is just moving in all directions, with no clear beginning or end.

It is no surprise, then, that the industry has had some trouble distilling trends into very concrete items or niches that it can clearly translate into revenue. We used to have the “it” bag or the “it” shoes, but there is no such thing anymore practically, even if people continue to use the term. So what trends and paths can we follow? Is street style perhaps the new fashion trend dispensary, or does that power lie in the thumbs and swipes of the Instagram famous? All to say, the new year will bring new trends, but it depends on your source.

One trend that seems to be contiguous across the board is the sneaker trend that in the hands of Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia took a literal ugly turn. While for seasons sneakers were streamlined and made to be as feminine and coy as possible, Balenciaga’s spring 2018 looks showcased refrigerator white, triple-soled, bulbous lace-ups called the Triple S, which even made the gamine, insouciant models of the runway look oddly frumpy. They were sold out everywhere and became one of Balenciaga’s biggest sellers this past season. 2019 seems to translate that look into sandals, with designers like Jil Sander producing 6-inch platform flip flops and Dsquared2 showing a curvy rubber wedge lug sole with webbed straps and a clear strap of PVC across the front of the shoe. Perhaps it is the satire in the idea of high fashion elevating and conquering the most objectionable, unfashionable things that captures the attention, hearts and wallets of fashion hounds these days.

In the new year, fashion (which is historically progressive, almost without exception) will continue imbuing strong political overtones in collections, with designers expressing their views of LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and the #MeToo movement in spades. In Hedi Slimane’s ambiguous, gender-bending spring 2019 collection for Celine, whip-thin male and female models with shaggy, chin-length hair wore sharp-shouldered, precisely tailored suits, some layered over striped shirting and ties, others with sheer, sequined, jewel-necked blouses. In Nicolas Ghesquiere’s collection for Louis Vuitton, boxy suiting and space-age outerwear hid the shapes of androgynous models so well that many mistook them for men. Whether the idea is that gender is innately fluid and malleable or that it is fixed and therefore subject to mystifying is unclear.

The fascination with the royal family doubled down in 2018 with the marriage of American actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry. In addition to the curiosity of their relationship in general, everything the Duchess of Sussex wears is subject to selling out. A week after Markle wore her Givenchy wedding dress, the brand saw a 60 percent surge in online interest. The website of the brand Line crashed once the white coat she wore after her engagement was identified. According to some British economists, copycatting her style is estimated to inject $210 million into the worldwide economy this year. In contrast to her sister-in-law, Catherine, who wears almost exclusively high designers, Markle mixes high and low, and supports more up-and-coming designers. 2019 will bring another surge of fascination, when her first child is born.

Fashion may no longer be an island, but still be sure and pack your ugly sandals.

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