AT THE TOP OF THE PYRAMID THERE ARE THE INNOVATORS.
The first kid to keep her wallet on a big chunky chain. The first to wear way-too-big pants on purpose. To wash jeans in acid, stick a safety pin in something, or wear a hooded sweatshirt inside a leather jacket. The mythical first guy who wore his baseball cap backward.
When you meet them, most Innovators don't look that cool, not in the sense of fashionable, anyway. There's always something off about them. Like they're uncomfortable with the world. Most Innovators are actually Logo Exiles, trying to get by with the twelve pieces of clothing that are never in or out of style.
Except, like Jen's laces, there's always one thing that stands out on an Innovator. Something new.
Next level down the pyramid are the Trendsetters.
The Trendsetter's goal is to be the second person in the world to catch the latest disease. They watch carefully for innovations, always ready to jump on board. But more importantly, other people watch them. Unlike the Innovators, they are cool, so when they pick up an innovation, it becomes cool. A Trendsetter's most important job is gatekeeper, the filter that separates out real Innovators from those cra2y people wearing garbage bags. (Although I've heard that in the 1980s, there were some Trendsetters who actually started wearing garbage bags. No comment.)
Below them are the Early Adopters.
Adopters always have the latest phone, the latest music player plugged into their ear, and they're the guys who download the trailer a year before the movie comes out. (As they grow older, Early Adopters' closets fill up with dinosaur media: Betamax videos, laser discs, eight-track tapes.) They test and tweak the trend, softening the edges. And one vital difference from Trendsetters: Early Adopters saw their stuff in a magazine first, not on the street.
Further down we have the Consumers. The people who have to see a product on TV, placed in two movies, fifteen magazine ads, and on a giant rack in the mall before saying, "Hey, that's pretty cool."
At which point it's not.
Last are the Laggards. I kind of like them. Proud in their mullets and feathered-back hair, they resist all change, or at least all change since they got out of high school. And once every ten years they suffer the uncomfortable realization that their brown leather jackets with big lapels have become, briefly, cool.
But they bravely tuck in their Kiss T-shirts and soldier on.