Fashion Is Back With A Capital “F”

Amelia Brubaker, Staff Writer

For most students, this year has been their first year back at school since the pandemic began. Suddenly waking up ten minutes before school starts and zooming into class in pajamas is no longer an option.

I know that personally, I love putting together outfits and using fashion as a creative outlet, but this got me thinking, what does fashion mean to the students at MHS?

“Fashion is a form of self expression. So many messages can be conveyed through it, there’s so much material in the fashion world to choose from, and I see it as a never-ending realm of possibility.”  – Charlie Benson, Junior

“It’s a way to define who you are as a person” – Sidney Mwaura, Senior

It’s not just students who are excited about getting out and getting dressed as we emerge from the pandemic and fashion trends are proving that.

“Fashion is back with a capital F and people are ready to get out and get dressed.  That’s why we are seeing vibrant colors, patterns and textures on the runway this season.” says Charcy Evers, Fashion Trend Forecaster based in Montclair, NJ. “We have rediscovered the joy, expression and meaning that fashion brings/ conveys.  To that end, shopping locally and being led by creators of fashion (designers), as opposed to trends (influencers), is back – as it should be.”

Most students agreed that it is a fun way to convey who you are to the public. Being that the fashion industry is very large and influential, it is understandable that most people have found ways to express themselves through it. However it is most definitely a double edged sword.

“Fashion is very fun but overconsumption and the impact it has on the environment isn’t” – Madi Koep, Junior

It is no secret that clothes go in and out of fashion alarmingly quickly. According to, the fashion cycle of a micro-trend lasts around 3-5 years, while a macro-trend lasts around 5-10 years.

These days micro-trends are the more apparent ones. The difference is that instead of them lasting 3-5 years they only last around 5-7 days.

Before the rise of influencers on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, there were models, magazines, and celebrities that started trends. These trends would last a longer amount of time because the only way these trends could start is if a select amount of people were watching these forms of media very closely and spreading them word of mouth.

Now, trends can start and end in the blink of an eye because there are thousands of influencers on Tiktok and Instagram essentially telling you what is in and what is out of fashion almost every 24 hours.

Because of how social media pressures Gen-Z to present themselves to the highest standard, that means they feel the pressure to follow the latest trends. This is incredibly dangerous for many reasons.

“I think Gen Z, like all generations, are defined by the age of the majority at that moment.  So that means yes of course they are (pressured to follow trends), they are at the age when assimilation outweighs self-expression.” Evers says.  “I think the difference from previous generations though, is the social and environmental awareness that significantly influences where they purchase from.  You don’t just buy a product, you buy a mindset, an ideology and this is particularly important for Gen Z.”

The only way that consumers are able to access these so-called “trendy clothes” so fast  is through well known brands like Fashion Nova, Brandy Melville, and SHEIN. All of these are considered to be fast fashion brands.

Fast fashion in a nutshell is clothing that is made very quickly and cheaply. More often than not the designs are stolen from recent catwalks.

Because of the speed at which the clothing is produced that means that the clothes are likely being produced in large factories, which in itself is harmful to the environment. According to Borgen Magazine, fast fashion accounts for 10% of all carbon emissions in the world and is the second largest industry when it comes to pollution behind the oil industry.

On top of this, the garment workers are treated horribly. Most garment workers are in bad and sometimes dangerous work environments, work 14-17 hours everyday of the week, and are paid around 39 cents per hour. In some instances, garment workers can’t refuse overtime because of how little they get paid.

Obviously, fast fashion has been a major problem for a very long time, but overtime overconsumption of fast fashion has become very normalized and now people are finally starting to realize the harmful effects it has.

The pandemic has also played a huge role in the changes in fashion. During the pandemic, there was nowhere to go, therefore nothing to dress for. Now, we are at a place where we can actually go places. People are very excited to have something to actually dress for and are even being more bold with their fashion choices then they were before the pandemic started.

Aidan Cummins, a junior at Montclair High School says “I would not say that my sense of style changed, but it has matured with me. I began to think less about other people’s opinions and tried to become more adventurous with my clothing”

“My sense of style has changed hugely since the school shut down. What I considered fashionable and unique back then, I now consider comfortable lounge-wear.” Says Owen Boyce. “I would say I’m now much more invested in cohesion and monochromatism.”

There have also been changes that are less surface level. Evers says,

“In the midst of all the tragedy and the racial, socioeconomic reckoning that came to be,  we have realized how little we actually need and that material things don’t matter as much – at least I hope. Which is why we will see a shift away from fast fashion and overconsumption, and spending based on either necessity or meaning.”

Evers also gives some insight on to what is on the horizon for fashion

“There will continue to be a major focus on the impact of fashion on the environment / sustainability, on the factories/ it’s workers, employees and everything in between. If companies do not make social / environmental impact a priority, they will be called out.  The metaverse is a big focus – digital fashion for avatars, NFT’s.  3-D printing and bespoke/on demand production.” – Charcy Evers

While over-consumption of fashion and its effects on the environment are concerning, there is still a hunger for fashion and style as a means of self-expression.  Fashion reflects the world we are living in so it’s constantly evolving and changing based on what consumers need and want.  Brands that can successfully strike a balance between what is stylish and what is sustainable, will win customer loyalty.

“There will continue to be a major focus on the impact of fashion on the environment / sustainability, on the factories/ it’s workers, employees and everything in between” said Evers. “If companies do not make social / environmental impact a priority, they will be called out.”