Tricky trends: here’s why stuff gets popular

Alexia Sabau
Story by Alexia Sabau and CBC Kids News • Published 2021-05-21 06:00

Kids and adults follow trends for very different reasons


Remember when Crocs were popular? And then when they weren’t? And then when they were again?

New fads and trends seem to come and go so often that it can be hard to keep track of all of them.

So far this year, CBC Kids News contributor and trend hunter Alexia Sabau has covered everything from Olivia Rodrigo’s drivers license breakup drama to virtual chess to crystal healing on Hey Alexia, What’s Trending?

And we’re only five months into 2021.

But what makes something become so popular in the first place?

Author Kira Vermond said it can be a mix of a few things:

Vermond’s latest book, Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular, is this year’s winner of the Ontario Library Association Yellow Cedar Award, and is all about how fads and trends come to be.

In the book, Vermond takes a look at different things that have become popular over the years, the history behind them and the impact they had on people.

Fads vs. trends

We might find ourselves using the terms “fad” and “trend” interchangeably. But Vermond said they can be seen as two separate categories of popular things.

How quickly something becomes popular and how long it stays popular can help determine whether something is a fad or a trend.

Fads gain and lose popularity quickly, while trends seem to stretch out over a bit more time. (Image credit: CBC)

A fad is something that shoots up in popularity really quickly and then dies down quickly as well.

On the other hand, a trend takes a little longer to catch fire. Once it does, it stays popular for a longer period of time before dropping off.

A third category: classics

Vermond also said that when something stays popular way past the quick burn of a fad and the slow burn of a trend, it falls into a third category called “classic.”

Classics are things that become popular and stay relevant for so long that they naturally become part of our society and existence.

A good example of a classic is the wristwatch, said Vermond.

CBC Kids News contributor Alexia Sabau, top right, and author Kira Vermond, bottom right, chatted about how wristwatches became a classic while illustrator Clayton Hanmer produced live drawings of their conversation. (Image credit: Kat Go/CBC)

The wristwatch became trendy after soldiers in the First World War discovered that wearing a watch on the wrist was more convenient than using a pocket watch.

From then on, wristwatches became a staple in society.

You might even be wearing one as you’re reading this!

Following fads to fit in

Even though you know something popular is likely just a fad and probably won’t be around for very long, you might be finding yourself tempted to jump on the bandwagon along with everyone else.

Vermond said that when it comes to taking part in what’s popular, kids do it because they want to fit in.

“They want to feel like they’re part of the community.”

But when it comes to adults jumping on fads and trends, there is a different driving force.

“Adults follow fads and trends because they want to show off,” said Vermond.

Check out the latest episode of Hey Alexia, What’s Trending? to hear from Vermond and illustrator Clayton Hanmer about some of their favourite fads and trends, as well as what makes a “bad fad.”

About the Contributor

Alexia Sabau
Alexia Sabau
CBC Kids News Contributor
Alexia Sabau is an inquisitive teen who likes to keep up with the trends. The Grade 12 student is a youth ambassador with a passion for community building and motivation to make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels. She worked as a junior reporter for the Calgary International Children’s Festival and Shaw TV Calgary. Alexia is also a devoted Harry Potter fan who is excited to work her magic on CBC Kids News.

Was this story worth reading?