Fad VS Fashion: What's The Difference? – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Fad VS Fashion: What's The Difference?

Fad VS Fashion: What's The Difference?

If there’s one constant within the fashion industry, it’s the fact that there are actually very few constants. Fashion has always been considered an ever-changing, ever-evolving industry, and this still rings true today. With each new season, comes new trends, styles, and fads so singular and brief that it can be hard to keep up! 

Keeping your look stylish, modern and relevant can oftentimes feel like an impossible task, especially so if you’re attempting to follow the latest trends. However, a solid understanding of the difference between fads and fashion, can allow you to curate a personal wardrobe that is sure to be both chic and timeless. 

Whether you’re thinking about buying new Gucci on afterpay, or want to immerse yourself in current clothing trends, it’s always important to ask yourself if you’re simply following fads or embracing the versatility that accompanies established styles in the world of fashion.

Here are some valuable distinctions to be aware of to ensure your wardrobe has a healthy mix of both fads and fashion.

Identifying fads

A simple way to identify a fad is to pay attention to both the rate of its emergence in order to estimate its potential lifespan. Fads are, essentially, temporary fashion, and can be largely identified by their particularly short lifespans. Fads have been known to typically last one season, or even just half a season, as they are often informed by ongoing cultural and social trends, such as musicians and other figures in the entertainment industry. 

Take the current Y2K fashion trend for instance, otherwise known as the resurgence of early ‘00s trends like low-rise jeans and slogan tees. The resurgence of this style can be accredited to a renewed, online interest in the popular culture of that era

Fads also typically exist as definitive ‘styles’ solely in the era in which they were born. This means that if you see someone wearing a look from years past but in the modern day (i.e. the early 2000s and its inexplicable trucker hat phenomenon), you will instantly be able to recognize their style as a dated look, or a look that is paying homage to a particular period of time. Any of these styles that are revamped are always likely to be short-lived fads than genuine revampings.

Identifying fashion

While fads are short-lived moments, fashion is timeless. Fashion encompasses prevailing styles, pieces and looks that evolve with the seasons, but without the strict end date of fads. For this reason, fashion is typically easy to identify, as it consists of pieces that can be reworn repeatedly over the years, and looks that are never likely to be passé. Investing in fashion can mean sourcing quality denim, leather jackets, boots and other basic outerwear like a quintessential trench coat. 

Unlike fad pieces, fashion-forward items can be incorporated or reintroduced into your wardrobe months after their initial purchase, with different styling allowing it to look and feel like a brand new item. The versatility and longevity of use that accompanies fashion is what also makes following fashion far better for the environment than simply following fads, as the trend cycle is a large contributor to waste and mass-consumerism.

There is, of course, always going to be an overlap between fads and fashion. Fads are informed by fashion, just as fashion is informed by fads. The key difference is that fashionable items are pieces you’ll keep, whereas fad pieces will likely be relegated to the donation bin or only re-worn at a themed costume party once their time is up.

Curating your style with fads and fashion

Whilst engaging with the temporary nature of fads might feel daunting, that doesn’t mean that you need to dismiss them entirely. Fads play an important and indispensable role in the development of the fashion industry. In fact, most of us engage with fads at some point in time. For evidence of this, all you need to do is simply take a look through celebrity photo archives. Chances are, you’ll catch most of them wearing outfits that are very ‘of their time’. 

When designing with fads, however, it’s important to always consider purchases carefully before you spend to avoid coming down with buyer’s remorse. An easy way to incorporate fads into your wardrobe whilst minimising your risks of looking outdated, is to mix and match your fads with fashionable pieces. A Y2K shirt, for instance, can be reworn successfully if paired with classic outerwear and a timeless handbag. Similarly, you can utilise old fads if it’s part of your broader aesthetic (i.e. incorporating ‘50s era trends into your look if you prefer a vintage aesthetic).


Ultimately, fashion is what you make of it. If you still want to wear hypercolour, or don a pair of ski-goggles then you should absolutely go for it and make it your own! You should always consider, however, if you’re purchasing something because you genuinely love it, or because it’s on-trend for right now. The bottom line here is to always stay true to yourself.