Given the amount of time we’ve been sporting joggers, showing off our personalities through the socks we choose to pair with our Birkenstocks, and regarding jeans as “elevated wear”, many of us are wondering: will upcoming trends allow me to maintain such an indulgent level of comfort? The answer is complicated, as most matters of expression are. Below we’ve outlined which trends we predict will carry on into the runway (and the elusive “new normal”), what we’re likely leaving behind, and what we can reasonably presume will arise as a result of such an endlessly casual year of style.
Even pre-pandemic, many companies were beginning to adopt a more relaxed dress policy; much to the likes of Silicon Valley—Adidas with dark wash denim, structured trainers, and t-shirts under sporty blazers were becoming more and more ubiquitous at the office in the months/years preceding the lockdown. The WFH environment has accelerated this already growing trend with a speed none of us could have imagined. Post-vaccine, who’s to say you can’t wear a sweater with some stretch trousers and ironic Crocs to a nice dinner? Or wear a track pant with a button-down to a work event? Given how quickly we took a liking to loungewear, I’m predicting it’ll be a challenge to get people out of their sweatpants and back into stuffy suits and pencil skirts and that designers will have to find a chic middle-ground. Furthermore, I’m foreseeing stretchier and more accommodating fabrics in this upcoming Fashion Week.
Leaving: Also Comfort
We can look at the trend of comfort today as a spectrum with two poles. On one pole, many of us weren’t ever expecting to work on Excel spreadsheets in boxers and t-shirts (or to find that it is actually quite enjoyable); on the other there is not only the group of folks who felt more productive and confident in professional wear, but there’s the sartorial precedent of feeling the need to dress up as the dawn of a new, more hopeful era approaches. Christian Dior, after the Great Depression and World Wars, launched his first collection titled “The New Look” in 1947. It was an instant success, which comes as no surprise. Following years of fabric shortage, economic devastation, and wide-spread military presence, civilians had become accustomed to blue-collar workwear and modest, minimal homemade clothing. The advent of hope and peace brought about a desire for opulence and dressing lavishly, a need to celebrate. Dior’s collection did exactly that, it brought back skirts and corsets, and this resonated with those who wanted to start fresh and close the door on a turbulent epoch.
Though there are many reasons we can expect nostalgic styling on the runway and in the zeitgeist of the coming years, we’ll cite 2 of the main ones: longing for times unfettered by disease and political instability and—wait for it—Netflix. The first one, well, we’ve been here many times. During eras of seemingly eternal tumult, folks were inspired to style themselves more expressively because they felt unheard. Take the ‘70s—people dressed incredibly against the previously set standard—this was no accident. It’s part of the magic of fashion, it is so ephemerally intimate and so immediately impactful; why wouldn’t you voice yourself visibly? Back then, Chicana activists wore indigenous garments to highlight their heritage, the Black Panthers wore black turtle necks—pedestalling their skin and natural hair, and gay men wore exaggerated biker garb to cheekily poke at expectations of masculinity. Expect an influx of these themes—dressing loudly, irreverently, very intentionally and individualistically, and alluding to the past. The second reason is a bit more simple, but we’re excited to see what everyone’s individual interpretation will look like on the runway. It’s no secret that the sale of Jordan’s went up following The Last Dance premiere, or that chess sets were experiencing a boom after The Queen’s Gambit. Similarly, we’re forecasting that watching habits will influence what themes designers would like to source inspiration from—with The Crown and Bridgerton in full swing, we’re hoping to catch some more “regency-core”—brocade, argyle, and houndstooth this year.
Staying: Genderless Clothing
Considering the way we’ve all been dressing, previously held concepts of gendered clothing are being shown the door (not that they weren’t pre-pandemic, but this exit has been expedited by those of us who are tired of binary shopping sections!). Wide-legged jeans, knit sweaters, combat boots, cropped t-shirts, slim joggers, leather loafers, bulky sneakers—these are items used by people of all gender identities. In fact, many brands—such as the eponymous Telfar, whose motto is “Not for you—for Everyone”—have no designated men’s or women’s section. Even for those who subscribe to this dichotomy, men’s fashion becoming more cropped and colorful, and women’s fashion getting wider and more rugged (hello, Harry Styles and Billie Eilish), is an undeniable reality. I’m partial to say that this is not a trend, but, rather, the future of fashion. Here to stay: clothing for everyone.
Leaving: Fast Fashion
Sewists and eco-warriors alike will be glad to see fast fashion go. The financial crisis has rid many people of disposable income to spend on cheap and, correspondingly, disposable clothing. Shoppers today find themselves contemplating, “Will these $20 trousers fall apart within a month or should I wait and invest in something that was sourced humanely and whose cost-per-use works to my budgetary advantage? Or should I just make it myself?” The single-use nature of fast fashion is no longer chic (was it ever?). It is a little-known fact that the best dressers don’t have massive closets filled to the brim with rarely used clothing (here’s looking at you, Carrie Bradshaw). They’re actually the people who have a reasonable, well-curated, durable, and timeless assortment of pieces with which to play. (Cue: a plug for our Capsule Wardrobe Planner.) Jacquemus has spoken out about the timeline of fashion week and how it should be more spaced out, since there is no need to encourage shopping every other weekend. Perhaps this upcoming fashion week will be one of few this year, although it would make me, in particular and selfishly, a bit sorrowful to not have so many shows a year. In any case, I’m privy to believe that a relaxed runway cadence would capture the essence of the era more boldly and would require designers to be more innovative in creating collections that resonate and last.
Sara Maino, deputy Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia, recently stated: “We didn’t respect the planet until now and in a way this [pandemic] is a message and unfortunately it’s a very, very heavy message. Change had to be done. Everyone thought that the change would happen gradually, but that’s not the case. Change has to be done now, and done quickly.” We’re expecting and hoping our fashion houses and favorite brands will take on the challenge of sustainability. Although our perception of eco-friendly clothing has been tainted by green recycling symbols and scientific/humanitarian branding, ecologically sound clothing needs to be the standard, not the ethical exception, not up to the consumer, but, rather, the modus operandi of the fashion industry—arguably the largest contributor to the climate crisis. With all of us plugged into social media, becoming aware of cancelled celebrities, brands, and methods of production, the average shopper thinks a bit more about where their money is going. We’ll wait and see these next weeks, but the dream is for ateliers to take a collective stand and say “We will no longer produce clothing that contributes to global warming, overproduction, and extreme methane emissions.”