Fashion has been around a long time, ever since cavemen needed to cover their business. It is even possible Neanderthals styled their fur loincloths a certain way to make them look avant-garde. But in this day and age, we have more to worry about than fashionable fur. Fashion is a business carved into societies’ echelon of so-called “necessities,” like smartphones or tablets. Teens want a pair of Yeezy’s just as much as they want a new iPhone, and a new iPhone is more expensive, but not by much.

A trend can be defined as a general inclination toward something. In fashion, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Trends are most definitely awful, especially if you look back five years when everyone was wearing those vile tribal patterns and everything was galaxy-themed. And fuckbois wore the classic combo of basketball shorts, long socks and sandals. That may still be a thing, but no one is encouraging it and everyone thinking about wearing that combination needs to think about something else.

We can even go further back to 2007, where everyone was either a prep — wearing grandma-reminiscent pastel, plaid bermuda shorts and Hollister tees — or an emo — donning hair fringe so oddly placed that it made people look like they had one eye and skinny jeans that probably made 50 percent of Hawthorne Heights’ fan base infertile. Trends feel cool right when they become popular, especially for teenagers and young adults, who follow trends more than any other age group. Then as soon as a new trend comes along, we reject the old one like the plague.

This goes along with fashionista James Laver’s “Law of Fashion,” which was published in 1937. His law demonstrates gyroscopic fashion trends, in other words, what’s in and what’s not. If you’re really curious, the law can be found in a handy online chart, but the gist is that trends that were once in fashion will go through a stage of unpopularity, followed by it coming back into fashion again. Go figure. Crocs will be popular again in 2030. I called it first.

So how are trends started? Bustle, an online women’s magazine, ties trends to two things, history and economics. Believe it or not, trends have been around since the Middle Ages when disposable income became a thing and people decided they wanted to look better and richer than everyone else. But the fashion industry creates trends to maximize profits. It may be discouraging and terrible, but it’s true.

And fashion companies are pushing out collections faster than Donnie tweets. You can go to H&M every week and see new clothes on the racks, cheap and ready to be bought by people who want to keep up with whatever trend is popular at the moment.

Past trends are actually quite interesting and amusing. Back before celebrities were actors, musicians and people with fine booties and corseted busts, they were members of royal families. Bustle reports Queen Elizabeth I, the Lady Gaga of the 16th century, once made a comment about how much she liked feather fans. It became a trend for the rest of her life and people quickly grabbed multiple pairs.

Marie Antoinette changed the way French fashion was perceived in the 18th century when she introduced the Gaulle or Chemise de la Reine, loosely translated, the royal underwear, which in reality was a style of dress.

This style was completely different from the broad hoop skirts and opulent dresses of the early part of the century. It was simple and flowy, and more practical for women to wear. This trend started something that would last until the Victorian era. If you’ve ever seen a Jane Austen movie, and I know everyone has, all of the women are wearing one. But some royal trends didn’t become popular.

Duchess Erzsébet Bathory, of Transylvania, liked to bathe in the blood of virgins to make her skin look younger. Trends can also be tied to a little thing called conspicuous consumption, a term coined in the late 1800s. It refers to consumers buying expensive items to show off their wealth and not meant to satisfy any sort of consumer need.

Today, we see a different form of conspicuous consumption emerging — inconspicuous consumption. It’s a term that suggests that someone with what is perceived as visible signs of luxury is probably from a lower social class rather than a higher one. The Atlantic stated that people from poorer ethnic groups sometimes feel as if they have something to prove and spend more money on trendy clothes than people in the middle class.

So should we follow fashion trends? Allow our personal style to be dictated by celebrities, fashion magazines and eccentric designers?

Huffington Post suggests the constantly changing trends are due to an emergence of “fast fashion,” a type of system put forth by big retailers such as Forever21 and H&M.

The swiftly changing clothing selections that stores sell is many times the product of child labor and unhealthy working conditions for workers of some Asian and other countries. They make these cheap clothes that seem to fall apart after several washings and go out of style quickly. Hilarious, right?

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