Fast versus Slow culture: Unpacking the Fashion Hype Cycle 

By Lara Ferris, Senior Strategist

8-minute read

Is culture stuck? Many would say yes. Strategist Matt Klein’s meta-analysis of 2024’s major trends showed very little difference between what ad agencies were calling “the future” all the way back in 2018 and what they are predicting today. According to Klein’s data, many futurists are reporting on the present and the past with “statistically commonplace” words and phrases, and a lack of anything emergent, divergent or plain old new.

Perhaps the algorithm is to blame. In his new book “Filterworld”, New Yorker staff writer Kyle Chayka identifies digital media’s skill at creating a single aspirational viewpoint as a cause of this stuckness. The end result is what we experience when we visit a new coffee shop in a different city: culture flattened into a sort of global beigeness.

Or perhaps, four years on, we’re still in the cultural aftershocks of Covid. Eva Wiseman made the poignant observation in January’s Elle that we’re all still scrabbling around in the pandemic’s wake, robbed of time and unable to move forward, but equally unable to talk about it.

It may be that we’re not actually stuck, but moving at the snail’s pace identified by ethnographer Grant McCracken when he diagnosed the two speeds of culture: fast and slow. But the speed of slow now feels interminable, given the rollercoaster ride of social media, and especially fashion trend-spotting.

In this specific corner of the internet, audiences are bombarded with diverse and emergent trends daily, from “mob wife” to “red tights”, “bows” and “corecore”. The ever-lengthening list creates pressure for anyone working in fashion or fashion-adjacent industries, presenting a seemingly urgent need to respond to the latest conversation, hyped-up style or next big thing.

One person who rides the wave of fashion discourse and has even coined several trends is Molly Rooyakkers, founder of A cult favourite of fashion insiders, Molly has 106k IG followers and counting, all keen to hear what cool, fun or stylish moment is coming next.

Spring spoke to Molly to understand her success creating such inspiring cultural observations. Molly explained that she uses a combination of social listening, search data, street observation (specifically a trendy café in Amsterdam) and personal intuition to identify and name trends. The layer of data that Molly applies on top help prove her hypotheses, as well as hint at where to look next.

Unsurprisingly, Molly’s audience is “particularly fond of content that delves into historical data”, especially when this data is used to predict the return of a nostalgic aesthetic from our past. Yet her business audiences are hungry for bold theories that both shock and point the way to more substantial shifts forwards in culture.

What to do with all these trends (both fast and slow) requires brand-centred thinking. Ask yourself what is emergent (or happening right now) that’s connected to brand values, and that matters to your audience? Use the answer to get unstuck: build relevant emerging themes into your brand work, to maintain cultural currency and create progressive meaning that lasts.

Molly Rooyakkers

+44 (0) 20 7267 8383

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