grunge 2013

Cultural Evolution & Fashion

marilyn-in-fashionWhen it comes to fashion and subculture trends, things have certainly changed, or should I say evolved. Social learning has been broken into two classrooms, the real and the online.

In the real classroom people observe their peers, stars, idols and replicate with slight alterations to call it unique. In the online classroom, social media has become the largest playground and whilst the technique is the same, the outcome is not. The reasoning social media plays a different part is people tend to not expose who they are online, but who they want to be or the way they want others to perceive them.

What does this have to do with fashion? When you think about the way people dress, it’s generally taken from something or inspired by someone. This theory is taken through observation and through that exact observation we have analysed that people tend to stick to what is comfortable within their groups in fear of being an outsider. People that rebel will still take their fashion style from something else, although they think they’re being completely unique, they will also discover others that dress in a similar fashion, or the previous generation have “been there and done that”.

Since this article is being written on a blog for social network sharing, I’m going to cover more about the internet and the meme theory. Let’s face the fact that the internet is full of memes and cats, we all know this and many know that this leaked from a particular forum that will remain unnamed to prevent scrapers finding this website. Let’s just say that lolcats evolved to another forum known as the front page of the internet, and from there it spread like wildfire into other platforms. Memes act the exact same way and so does fashion. The reason memes are so good is the hidden agenda,  before I tell you why I need to cover a theory about thought.

Dawkins claims that ideas can be conceptualised as entities that can hop from mind to mind, simply making copies of themselves as they go around. This acts just like genes in the human body, and they copy at different rates. This explains why kids look and act like their parents. Now if culture was to evolve, there must be some form of cultural replication, this is where memes come into play and what the hidden agenda is. We all laugh at them, we all get offended by them, however in an internet environment where emotional consequence is a different playground, they’re essential and play with our thoughts through reflection.

Image taken from -

Image taken from –

So many questions come up now. Could it be possible that thought can behave like inaccurately transmitted gossip, where the end result is mutated into something completely different from the original? Could it also be possible that as people reflect, the thought that they create can start hopping around? Does every action have an equal and opposite reaction, even with thought?

grunge 2013It’s believed that as an idea hops around and as subculture accepts it, then another idea dies. If this is true then why do trends return? Why are kids running around looking for hypercolour t-shirts? My theory regarding why fashion trends repeat is derived from two reasons; one being industry and the other being nostalgia. It’s very commonly known that kids emulate what they see, just like the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” and you can surely observe that as you see generations changing along with the fashion.

From my own observation I have noticed the 2010’s fashion industry being emulated from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s fashion styles with skater punk and grunge styles evolving into alternatives. This can be narrowed down to older brothers and sisters influencing their younger siblings, or simply the young observing their peers, idols and stars with slight alterations to call it unique.

To finish this article up let’s just leave you with the fact that an excellent source of fashion is creating your own. It’s great to pull inspiration from different sources but at the end of the day you want something to express you and not a subculture that had the same idea. My advice is to design your own prints on your computer at home, then when you’re happy with it, have your design printed onto t-shirts. If you walk down the street one day and someone has an extremely similar design to yours, think of this article.

If you have any comments then please put them below and I will respond. Please note that I’m not an academic studying cultural evolution but simply a writer working for a merchandise company. This is not to be taken as fact, but simply theories through reading other academic papers combined with observation.


If you’re interested in this subject then check out this resources I discovered whilst doing some research on the subject.

An introduction to cultural algorithms –

Cultural Evolution –

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