Women's fashion below the knee: Around the winter of 2004, jeans tucked into fluffy UGG boots were fashionable. (This is in London, I don't know about elsewhere.)
The first pressure was price, so over the following months I saw knock-off non-UGG boots, with progressively shorter fluffy hair. Eventually the boot hair disappeared completely, and people switched to regular boots.
Only, the boots were everywhere. You couldn't move in London for women in tall brown boots, worn over their navy blue jeans. They were everywhere and, yes, many different styles, but always brown and blue.
That's two transitions so far: Copy-cat boots, then regular boots. My feeling is that the second of these got so much traction because it coincided with another trend, which is the frontier/cowboy look. This is itself an evolution of the gypsy look of the summer of 2004. As winter came on, the gypsy look needed more leather and heavy materials, which naturally turned into the robust, heavily stitched, but still lo-fi feel that remains with us today.
Anyway. The next evolution happened because not all boots fit over jeans, and not everyone can afford to buy new boots to keep up with fashion. By the end of the boot season last year, I was seeing women wearing boots from the previous season. These are tight on the skin and designed to be worn with skirts. Because they had to be worn with jeans - obviously - the jeans were rolled up to expose the boot. Fortunately I don't see that anymore.
Exposing the boot like that, at such cost (rolled up jeans, I mean, seriously!), is such a close parallel to the low-slung trousers craze that I wonder whether it had the same roots. Before they took on a life of their own, low trousers were all about showing off the brand-name on the top of your boxer shorts. Was there an actual boot brand war I was missing, after the UGG receded, or was it just about demonstrating that the wearer could afford to buy a pair this season's boots, ones that would fit jeans inside them? And after it started, it just became the thing to do.
As this year's boot season started, I saw the craziest conclusion to all of this: A pair of jeans with dark cloth patches sewn around the lower leg, to signify boots without actually having to wear them. Beautiful.
I like this new appreciation for texture and complexity below the waist (texture is succeeding, in part, because it resonates with the come-back of tweed). Jeans have had a long run, and there are many competitors attempting to replace them as the default trouser. But maybe, what the last unfolding of the UGG train showed is that you don't need to replace jeans. Instead, you take jeans in a thousand different directions. We might get jeans with ruffled denim around the knee, or lacing, or composed entirely of a loosely-tied patchwork. Who knows.
We don't seem to have had the new fashion spike yet. I'm looking forward to seeing what new developments there are with boots, in the coming months.