The Life of a Trend

It’s like the circle of life, but with fashion.


Before Elton John first wrote the song “The Circle of Life,” it’s rumored that he had originally written “The Life of a Trend.” Disney was confused because the movie this song was intended for was about the animal kingdom, but they figured he’d just misread the email so they sent a follow-up along the lines of, “Hey Elton, more about lions, less about shoes.”

But the themes are similar because both are cyclical — he wasn’t so far off in the end. The life of a trend often begins from practical means; it’s usually rooted in history where it made sense at the time. Then it grows into an every day item, which is then eventually claimed by a subculture that the fashion industry later finds itself inspired by and reinterprets. (Think punk, for example.)

The style tribe goes crazy for the trend, then overdoes it, and as the peanut butter syndrome sinks in, the Thing of the Moment trickles out into the masses. Before long, that girl you hate from math class and her entire family tree has ruined your favorite bag that you once felt so cool for carrying. Or perhaps it was a style of jeans. Or maybe, per this summer’s trendiest shoes and the storybook above, it was a pair of Birkenstock sandals

Illustrations by Charlotte Fassler

Looking for more storybooks? How about you peruse the Adventures of a Lost iPhone or The Rat in the Hat. And for something completely different: Read about Pandora Sykes’ Dress-A-Day Challenge or a week without sorry. 

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  • MARY


  • GapToothedGirl

    I don’t like fur…so these monster slippers are a little too much for me…

    XOX, Gap.

  • Ohh I am still thinking about getting me some Birkenstocks only I don’t know if I will feel too inelegant in them. I think others look always very feminine but whenever I try them on myself I’m not sure and … now if I’ll wait any longer they will be out anyway…

  • Amy

    Like when I was in 6th grade in the 1980’s & the iconic Benetton rugby was all the rage. They were either white & green or blue & white. At first a few kids had them, a sprinkling here and there. After our holiday break, behold a sea of Benetton rugbys. Everyone in the 6th grade must have gotten one for a gift over the holiday. Hilarious. Memorable. I loved mine & wish I still had it. I’m thinking of finding one & bringing back the trend!

    • Amelia Diamond

      bring it back!

  • This is simply brilliant !!!!

  • ee_by_cc

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and the fact that the proliferation of social media exponentially speeds up the life cycle of trends. It’s getting harder and harder to find a trend that hasn’t yet hit the tipping point!

    • Kelly’s Gross-o

      This is a great point. I suppose it was always like this — if we learned anything from the Devil Wears Prada it’s that we are all, consciously or not, wearing some iteration of what’s been seen on the runway — but the fact that we are now surrounded and inundated with images of others duplicating the trend ad nauseam has really started to wear on me (no pun intended).

      Looks that I love this week become hackneyed and tired before the weekend, which leads me to the question: How much “inspo” is too much?

  • Cristina Feather

    Brilliant !!! I laughed on the inside so my boss doesn’t know I’m on TMR again :))))) !!
    Anyway, there’s a gap in the written story. Did emails even existed back in 1994 – when Elton wrote the Circle of Life? ( just joking! who cares!? your story is great! haha!)

  • Luba

    that´t it, trends are like boomerang – they come back over and over again..

    Great post, I ´ve enjoyed reading

    XO Luba

  • I hate everything about the Birkenstock resurgence. It makes me so angry that a hideous sandal makes me so angry.

  • That was awesome!

  • Jessica Barthel

    I think birkenstocks are hideous. But you ladies are hilarious!

  • Oliver Lips

    Great story! Wish I had a child who I could tell the story to..

  • deb

    Perfectly pictured and worded. I have a theory, however, ( and this theory will shatter the image that tweeners and teens and twenty-somethings have of their high-fashion cork soles) and that is that Baby-boomers, with their fallen archers have mandated the revivival. Nevertheless, I wear mine with pride, fashion and comfort.

  • eck

    Hilarious (& so true!).

  • hahahahaha! I love these illustrations!


  • The best grown-up bed time story I have seen. Please do more of these! I tried to get into Birkenstocks but after trying them on over and over again in store I couldn’t do it. I am happy to say I have no regrets in this decision.

  • Sassique

    Very interesting post! I love your point of view!

  • Elisheva

    Living in Israel, everyone wears birkenstocks (actually naots- they look the exact same). It is just funny to me that a something so prevalent over here is a trend in the U.S. I honestly do not think that birkenstocks will ever go out of style over here!

    • TheRanta

      Naots are much narrower than Birks. I tried for years to find a pair that fit my feet to no avail!

  • Julia

    I have to share this arcticle with my norwegian friens because in Norway the trend has just reched the top=))

  • Very clever and witty post!!

  • This is fantastic.

    Also, my mom always tells me about the clothing she had back in her day when it resurfaces as a trend, and I’m always sad she never kept any of it. I put the blame for my clothes-hoarding tendencies squarely on this.

  • TheRanta

    The best part of this trend is that I’ve been wearing these things for years styled the way they’ve been this season because my fat, flat little paddles have a hard time fitting into all the cute, delicate sandals. My feet eat Jimmy Choos and Manolos for dinner. I can’t even squeeze my forefoot into the front of a Swedish Hasbeen.

    So you know what? Trend-schmend. Ima keep wearing them.

    • MippysMom

      Me, too. I’ve got Birks that are 20+ years old, still going.

  • LOLz on lolz. Thanks for this.

    x Kelly


    This is amazing !!!

  • zallyhood

    This reminds me of the part in The Devil Wears Prada when Miranda rashes Anne Hathaway with the cerulean sweater speech… Which means I love it

  • I’ve actually been really fed up with fashion lately because of its way of taking things that do not belong to it, spitting out another version, and then completely bastarding [insert item here].

    Now the comfortable german footbed is ruined for people who wear them in earnest, by the fashion people. Fashion people (I suppose I in some capacity contribute to this), do the metaphorical equivalent of littering: they extract metaphorical resources from this earth and then leave them to rot in an unsustainable way after they have enjoyed. Over it.

    • TheRanta

      The great thing about Birks, though, is that they’ll long outlive the trendiness thrust upon them by the fashion industry. But I love your analogy — you kinda hit it.

  • I enjoyed the illustrations, Charlotte. You a firecracker.

  • cupcake6

    Birkenstocks are a brand with many styles not a specific style itself – except those soles of course ! So I feel perfectly comfortable with the fact that i plan to keep wearing them Forever since I have been for 15 years.

    • As you should! And you’re right…so many different styles and the popularity of the style changes depending upon the region. I just returned from a trip, and in Berlin in was the “Madrid” that was popular, and in Amsterdam the more flip-flop styles were popular.

  • Trufralls

    I’ve always worn them out of practicality (I have super narrow feet and the adjustable strap is heaven sent) so I was kinda happy that they came in fashion because I was no longer made fun of for wearing them! But being in Oz we still have another summer for them to really reach their peak of popularity so I’m sure by then I’ll be wishing they never came in fashion.

  • Eva Bowering

    What facinates me is the idea that when a trend is over, it’s when it’s reached the masses of the lower class. The Birkenstock is an item built for the middle class, in turn anyone could afford it if they wanted one. Trends are often built on the construct of a social system.

  • My thoughts exactly! I just did a whole post on the Birkenstock trend…loved them in middle school and now years later they are back in style!
    Enter The Sandrea Jewels Giveaway on my blog –>

  • I spent my summers in Germany, and we’d always buy Birkis there because they were insanely inexpensive (ah, how I miss the D. Mark). My mom forced me and my sis to wear them when we were back in the states, despite the fact that we were likely the only people in the state of Texas that owned a pair. I loathed it — I was constantly made fun of. I’ll probably never buy a pair of them again, and I won’t be sad to see this trend die.
    -Shannon at

  • roshik

    You guys need a new illustrator.

  • john
  • This made my morning. Please please please do more fashion story books!

  • lea


  • Damn I wish I had done this first! Always amusing myself with the “stories” of trends in my mind.
    SO GOOD.

  • Kristy

    Did you just compare a metaphor for life to…life? Isn’t that kind of…cyclical?

  • jessk

    dang i just bought some birkenstock rip offs from topshop. but im in australia so we are like a billion years behind you guys so im still trendy.

  • Kelly’s Gross-o

    Pebbles and floorpoop, classic.

  • Isabel


  • Yup, exactly! And thats why I hate trends.

  • Blue Labels Boutique

    Setting myself apart from others has always been important to me. I remember growing up I would get so pissed off when a friend, family member, or even stranger would wear “my style” or “my designer”. Now I see it as a compliment. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?!

  • Kriso

    As an art school student in the early 90’s I was rocking the forest green Suede Birks pretty hard, the mule style ones with enclosed front and open heel. My mother hated them which made them excellent and they kept the non art school boys away. I would wear them with slim 1960’s mens suits from the op shop with a tight white tshirt. Yeah I don’t know what I was on at the time either…but it felt gooooood.

  • Great Idea! check out for some great Style ideas

  • MorningHater

    love the blog post! I never thought about trends in that way until now…

  • the Commodore

    That was hilarious – good job – great sense of humour – I would think the triple strap would be more fitting – gives us guys that Roman gladiator look lol

  • Marianne Ronsse

    I can’t believe I missed this article when it came out! I love when you illustrate stories (like that one with the rat who explores Manhattan)