This is something that I, and many others, have thought and written about, pretty extensively. Styleforum is a prime example of what the internet enables. Right now, we have people in Australia, the UK, throughout all of North America, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, some legitimate users from India and the Philippines, and so on, all constantly and instantly exchanging information, knowledge, opinions. The growth of "global culture" has been much expounded upon, and it is a phenomenon that is predominantly among the (relative) socio-economic elite of the world. I live in the middle of nowhere in the US, but I experience much the same cultural influences as do my counterpart in NYC, in Belfast, or in Minneapolis. This is compounded by the fact that I am also one of this fairly select group that engages in air travel on a regular basis. And there are many others like me. (Aside - this is not as prevalent in poorer segments, where regional differences are more pronounced. This may be one of the reasons that creatvies are so drawn to these segments for inspiration, but that's another topic for another time) At the same time, we are 1) still physical beings, and 2) we are subjected to "outside" stimuli, i.e. our systems are not closed. This means that if I lived in the LES of NYC, or in Williamsburg, I am still influenced by the people around me and their cultural influences and expressions. And even if I am a shut-in who never sees anyone else in person, I am influenced by the representation of culture from the media that I consume, media outside, say, this forum. Even if I only talk to other, likeminded, people, on this forum, I am subject to the secondary influences. Re. trends in fashion - they are still there. As long as there is centralization of power, they will be there. Hedi's SLP is a great example of this. It became popular not organically, but because of a Herculean effort on the part of the Gucci Group, which is in turn owned by PPR/Kering. I suppose that if all designers were reduced to individual artisans, without patronage, then maybe there would be no trends. Maybe.