The 20 Year Trend Cycle
A key characteristics of popular trends is that they occur in regular 20 year cycles. The reason? Twenty years is about the span of time between your formative years (typically between 8 and early teens), and when life starts to fill up with mortgages, bills, kids, jobs, and other non-carefree adult activities. According to Robert Thompson, professor of Media and Culture at Syracuse University, it is at this point that nostalgia sets in. For example, someone who came of age in the 1970's would enter 1990's and start to look back. However there is an additional layer of nostalgia: during the 70's, those adults would also have been pining for their "the good old days" of the 1950's, like 'Lavern & Shirley', and 'Grease'. You could say, there is nostalgia for nostalgia.
"When an 8 year old now looks back at the '00s in 20 years, he'll not only remember popular shows like 'Lost' and '24', but he'll also be nostalgic for all the shows on VH1," Thompson recently explained to the Columbia News Service about this endless loop of recycling.
The Milestone Year Trends
A 5th anniversary, a 10year reunion, a 50th birthday - there's just something about a milestone year that people relate to. Because the fashion industry is only around 100 years old, at this point there are only 10 main periods to consider: the 1910's, 20's, 30's 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, and 2010's.