In today's world of hyper-fast fashion, no trend is guaranteed to last more than a few weeks. Some retailers — like the "faster" fashion retailer Boohoo, which releases up to 300 new products a day — have even built their business models on this need for speed. But with literally hundreds of styles coming and going within just one season, how are consumers supposed to know what to invest in for the foreseeable future and what will be passé in a matter of weeks?
Much like when you're frantically searching for a competently rated Thai place with a delivery minimum under $20, Google is here to help.
On Thursday morning, the search engine released its second-annual Fashion Trends Report, which analyzes search trends to outline which specific items are on the rise or decline in the U.S. and U.K., timed to fall. Here's how Google did it, in its own words:
We pulled top volume queries related to the apparel category and looked at their monthly volume from May 2014 to May 2016. We first removed any seasonal effect, and then measured the year-over-year growth, velocity and acceleration for each search query. Based on these metrics, we were able to classify the queries into similar trend patterns. We then curated the most significant trends to illustrate interesting shifts in behavior.
Google then curated its results into six general categories, three for those trends that are on the up-and-up and three that encompass those in decline.
Sustained risers: Steady growth over past years; these trends are safe bets.
- Biker pants
- Ripped jeans
"Today, [women are] dressing more like men, re-appropriating traditionally masculine styles like bomber jackets and biker jeans," the report says. It's bomber jackets that are leading the charge. In April, searches for bomber jackets grew 612 percent year-over-year in the U.S and 297 percent in the U.K. It's not slowing down anytime soon, either, and searches suggest that bomber jackets will soon make their way to the children's section; "kids," "baby" and "toddler" are all top-associated terms.
Seasonal risers: Seasonal trends that are likely to come back even stronger.
- Kimono dress
- Shirt dress
- Boho dress (U.S. only)
Jumpsuits and rompers (called playsuits in the U.K.) have a large amount of mainstream appeal — so much so, that searches for the item are now spiking in more rural and suburban pockets across the U.S. and the U.K. and not just in major cities. Its popularity also spans ages ("baby," "teens" and "adult"), occasion ("festival," "wedding" and "beach") and gender ("women," "girls," "men" and "boys").
Rising stars: Sudden growth within the past months; these trends might not last.
- Off-the-shoulder top
- Lace-up top (U.S. only)
- Dashiki dress
The numbers don't lie: The off-the-shoulder silhouette has grown dramatically in both markets from December 2015 to May 2016 — 347 percent in the U.S. and 261 percent in the U.K. Meanwhile, search data proves that a broad range of celebrities "from Michelle Obama to Kendall Jenner" have helped to popularize the style. And while they're still enjoying popularity, their meteoric rise suggests these trends may not be around much longer; so if you're going to invest now, maybe don't make it an expensive purchase. Now might also be a good time to resell these items. (However, we definitely don't condone going out and buying dashikis and kimonos if you're not aware of their cultural context.)
On their way out
Then there are the trends you should steer clear of.
Sustained decliners: Steady decline over the past years; these trends are fading out.
- Drop-crotch pants
- See-through clothes
- Acid-wash jeans
- Babydoll dresses
Seasonal decliners: Seasonal trends that are likely to decrease in demand every year.
- Asymmetrical skirt
- Waist trainer
- Maxi shirt (U.S. only)
Falling stars: Fads that have reached their peak and have already started to decline rapidly.
- Suede skirt
Rest in peace.