How do you talk about trends at a time when the hottest trending accessory is a face covering? And how do you answer the question “what are the key SS21 trends?” when the answer may well be “the same as SS20 but with a loungewear slant”?
But difficult though it might be, we really do all need to get back to thinking about trends. Yes, there have been “more important” things to think about in recent months. And yes, those things have helped shine a light on the more negative aspects of the fashion sector — the waste, questionable supply chains et al.
But high-street retail spending accounts for about 33% of consumer spending and 20% of GDP. We also (perhaps surprisingly) have a big fashion manufacturing sector and the fashion industry as a whole employs close to a million people (although the numbers are likely to decline for this year).
What this all means is that to pay for all the “important” things (from vaccines to doctors, from food to firefighters) we need a thriving fashion and retail sector to generate wealth and create jobs.
Which brings me back to trends. They may not have been front-of-mind for a while, but it’s time to start looking at them again.
Copenhagen Fashion Week this month did its best to help out. Mixing digital with physical shows, it worked hard to get back to business as usual and put forward a valid vision for what SS21 might look like. So what did it tell us about what we hope consumers will want to buy next year?
It may seem that a lifetime ago that we were all taking about that Zara dress, but the focus on loose dresses, easy dresses hasn’t gone away. Comfort moved beyond the loungewear we’ve lived in for months and showed that we have a lingering love of loose-cut dresses in materials ranging from T-shirting to more formal lace or crisp cottons. Creative cuts featuring frills and asymmetry may have dressed-up these pieces but couldn’t detract from the overall feeling of informality and ease.
Keep it simple
As labels try to coax consumers back into more formal pieces like the smart dress, the watchword is simplicity. Think a soft knit dress that can be worn alone or over a blouse. Think a silk slip or almost monastic linen tunic. These dresses took the Scandi love of the minimalistic to extremes. Occasional detail was striking but understated and colour was kept muted. These dresses elevate simplicity to an art form and colours are pale and toned down to match (unless they’re stark black or deep neutrals).
Consumers may have rejected tailoring for SS20 as WFH meant office-wear was a big turn-off, but labels remain committed to this fashion strand. Tailoring for SS21 aims to mix the formal edge with the informal, using slouchier cuts, surprising injections of colour or layering to make tailoring more less corporate and more comfortable (and cool).
Work, rest and play
SS20’s loungewear trend meets the wider athleisure movement and a realisation that people now want comfort above all, as well as retaining the desire to stay fit. This can be seen in the presence of activewear labels like 7 Days Active on the runway with the brand sending out activewear for everyday living as well as the gym. But other brands have embraced the trend in more traditional daywear, whether it’s shorts dressing, waist-tied pants or sporty T-shirt dresses.
One key detail for the season is the creative use of gathering that can be seen across a range of pieces from the ultra-casual to the more formal (frequently teamed with frills in the latter instance). Gathering is used to add shape to a tunic, waist definition to a dress or to add interest to necklines, sleeves and bodices. The detail is big news for the dresses category.
Print and pattern
Three key pattern directions came through strongly from CFW with a fondness for tie-dye also being echoed in “wave” prints — that’s not ocean waves but more like sound waves flowing across a garment. Also key were florals (hey, this is a summer season after all). There was a retro edge to many of these but they also looked strong in abstract forms or in modern and casual duotones. Meanwhile checks completed the key pattern trio, seen across day and outerwear.
Key items: The power pieces seen in collection after collection
The belted coat
The simple gilet
The wide-cut jacket