Designers may sometimes feel like they’re hitting their heads against a brick for autumn/winter as they offer up numerous coat options and consumers stick resolutely to their tried and trusted favourites. What chance do they have when the siren call of that puffer or parka is virtually irresistible?
The fact is that a coat’s a big purchase and one many consumers don’t take lightly, even at the top end of the price scale. But labels are going all out to convince us that some piece of high-priced outerwear should be on our spending priority lists later this year and in uncertain and volatile times, they want us to feel comfortable so the dominant theme is cosy cocooning.
There was lots to ignore within this season’s outerwear offer though, the unwearable American footballer shoulders being the big one. They may appeal to the most committed fashion victim, but as a practical option, they’re a non-starter. They didn’t cocoon the models on the runway, they swallowed them whole.
But just because some outerwear ideas aren’t wholly practical doesn’t mean they’re not worth a punt. Take the cape (see image above) OK, it won’t work with a backpack, but there are plenty of hand-held bag alternatives around for the season to render that point irrelevant.
Many, many labels want their customers to buy a cape next season, one that they can comfortably wrap themselves up in, whether it’s simply cool or f-f-freezing. There were ponchos and throws aplenty, but the classic cape was the dominant ‘new’ outerwear piece. Think mini length in leather, faux fur or wool; utility focused in water-repellant synthetics with oversized pockets; long and floor-sweeping in soft woollens or silks. It’s a piece that simply can’t be ignored come the autumn.
Elsewhere, the trench was a popular option and the classic tailored camel coat also saw a surge of popularity. But a more cocooning hybrid was the wrap coat. Cut wide and cosy, it was one of the easiest options on the runways and could be both casual and formal in one go. It worked in leather, tweeds, classic felted woollens or in material contrasts with Stella McCartney’s kimono style making an impact.
Another direction that fed into the cocooning trend was the long, long coat. Lengths ranging from a little longer than midi to so long that the wearer’s in danger of tripping over spoke of designer confidence in the on-trend appeal of the more formal woven woollen coat for the season ahead. But it could also be relaxed in nubbly wools or shearlings, while unexpected colour combos (think camel with pastels or brights) also made it feel new.
Long coats also came in faux furs and so formed part of a trend for fuzzy textures. This fuzz frenzy was in some ways a reaction to the rush to ban fur from the runways. Instead of real fur, labels embraced obviously faux versions, or shearling, playing up the faux theme with unnatural colour stories and pattern play. And this fuzz fondness extended to hairy woven woollens, fluffy and bouclé knits that saw a return to cardi coats.
Cocooning also extended to padded and quilted styles. The duvet coat enveloped its wearer and guaranteed warmth, whether belted or loose. It felt newest with placement prints or appliqués in deepest black or pastels and brights. For those who don’t want to go the whole hog with duvet coat, the oversized duvet scarf was an easy-option must-have accessory to take the edge off the cold weather.
And another way to take the edge off the chill was the giant gilet. Less careerwear-focused than the sleeveless coat-dreses of recent years, the new version was a long sweep of wool to be worn for evening or a daywear-focused piece in folkloric quilted florals, shearling, utility synthetics or leather. The newest styles were cut wide, offering up a more wearable angle on the wide shoulder trend.