“Trend” as Fad

Journalistic reports from time to time report on what reporters label as “trends.”

And, as is well known, those attentive to the worldwidewhatdoyacallit with regularity receive reports from so-called “social media” about what’s “trending.”

What’s the difference between a trend and a fad?

Is, for instance, the apparent resurgence of interest in 12-inch vinyl LPs a trend or a measure of the need for romantic nostalgia as satisfied at inflated prices?

The new CEO of the recently resurrected (from bankruptcy) Eastman Kodak – once a company with a virtual monopoly on 35mm film for amateurs and professionals alike – declared the firm would stay in the film business as long as it remained profitable for the company. Uh huh. Sounds like a good decision. But, is current consumer interest in film a trend or a fad?

One might suspect there is something about temporal longevity: trends have a longer shelf life than do fads.

A trend is the aging of America. Baby Boomers reaching Social Security status are part of a trend. The age cohort – post-War through the 1950s – is 15 or so years and, as a result, the trend in aging currently being experience should persist at least that long.

Fads are short-lived. Hula-hoops, maybe. Pet rocks certainly. Cabbage Patch dolls – Out!. Beanie Babies – long gone. Virtually all sports cards except those issued a hundred years ago and through, maybe, the early 1960s.

Though doubtless too early to tell, STEM seems an academic fad and steampunk a decorating fad. (See last week’s Blog.)

Collecting objects from the Arts and Crafts period is a trend; it has lasted for longer than did the original period. As would be true for earlier “period” furniture and decorative accessories.

Most established decorative styles lasted 20 years. That seems to qualify as a trend.

Interest in Mid-century modern seems to (stubbornly) hold on and is, hence, a trend. Fascination with third-quarter 20th century contemporary – think shag carpeting – may have already played out its thread.

And, by now, most recognize that anything advertised or promoted as “collectible” is, at best, a fad. Did I already mention Beanie Babies?