As for the movement pattern of human interest explored in the 21st-century novel, “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell knows all: “The best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.”
It’s true. Trends inhabit places like a good-looking plague — an excited, contagious spread of “let’s look, talk, dance, consume … like this … now.” It is a forward motion: always on the edge, always about to adjust a moment prior to the change of season. In college, or at least in the undergraduate land of Ann Arbor, these trends tend to be more exaggerated: more rapid in rotation, more hipster and with exception to our everyday-enhanced technology, never more than an arm’s reach away from recycling our parents’ past.
Take Ray-Ban Wayfarers, for example. The style was brought to the forefront because of “Risky Business” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but it has recently been reinstated by stars like the Olsen twins and Adam Brody. The leaders of the popular — A-list movie stars — establish what is hip. Trend X proceeds to take its sweet time to trickle down the food chain. By the time it gets to the bottom of society, the algae of the human world, the celebrities are riding a new trend wave. I myself am still buying $10 fake-Bans at the nearest Urban Outfitters, playing the continuous game of catch-up.
The hip-virus seems to work its way from the famous to the working class, from the youth to the wrinkled, and even from the coasts to the middle of the U.S.
When arriving from southern California as a freshman to the University of Michigan, trying not to clutch too tightly to any expectations, I was confronted with a comment from one of my Michigander, Welcome Week acquaintances — “Ann Arbor is the San Francisco of the Midwest.” It felt more like a nervous apology than anything else.
I enjoy believing this statement to be a maxim — a law of trend.
My unavoidably biased opinion that “everything starts on the West Coast” somewhat crumbles when I think of my four-year temporary home here in Ann Arbor. Yes, it’s true — Pinkberry, theme parks, Google, LSD, Carne Asada burritos with French fries in the mix, Levi’s, rave parties and Hells Angels Motorcycle Club all originated in the Golden State, but does that really say anything about trendiness?
Somehow, the hip ideas and trends — most likely coming from the opposing coasts of our country and occasionally from Europe — travel rapid-fire to the city of Ann Arbor. And we Ann Arborites sure show our pride in that.
It seems the “hipster” (flash image of Natalie Portman in “Garden State” and Johnny Depp in anything) has become mainstream in Ann Arbor, making it so that if one is hipster in its truest form, he or she must be double hipster — hipsters, for one, must not regard themselves as hipster, and secondly, they must display trendiness in a manner of exterior effortlessness.
I believe that any queen or king of “hip,” whether it is Regina George or Michael Jackson, would recommend to each and every one of us to constantly reinvent ourselves and influence the trending culture. And if by “dress” we mean live, I endorse Tracy Jordan’s advice to Kenneth in season one of “30 Rock”: “Dress every day like you’re going to get murdered in those clothes.”
Let’s not forget that trends surpass the threads and bling that cover our bodies and are defined within the broader context of social media. Take the evolution from MySpace to Facebook to Google+, the odd “I’ll follow you if you follow me” Tumblr exchange, and hashtags altering communication of the English language. What’s trending: Are we leading it or is it leading us?
I think it’s a conversation that never sleeps. The annoying kind where no one hangs up because that would mean someone would have to say “I love you” last. What we like to research in our private time, model on the streets and converse about with our closest friends is constantly changing, and that’s why Earth is such a fascinating place to be. Hip defines us and we define it; no one is an innocent bystander because even if you’re out of the loop, you are defining trend X by living outside of it. By being anti-cool, you are making the beautiful beast stronger.
Indeed, the innate ephemeral quality of a trend is what makes it. If you linger too long or live too long inside of a certain trend, the hip world will move onto new stages, leaving you alone with your Dell computer and scrunchie (which, according to Carrie Bradshaw, has never been in style to wear outside of the bathroom).