“It was a season like no other,” says Libby Page, senior fashion market editor at Net-A-Porter, of SS21. With hardly any live catwalk shows, a handful of private appointments and many livestreamed events, SS21 fashion month was the most unusual on record.
The fashion industry is certainly in crisis but it’s not all bad. For some, the pandemic gave pause for thought, with blockbuster brands like Gucci deciding to opt out of the show calendar for good as part of a commitment to sustainability. For others, like JW Anderson, who streamed a delightful video of cut-out paper models in a box, it was a chance to get more creative. Others still paid tribute to the heroes of 2020, using key workers as muses and donating collection profits to charitable causes.
Not only did designers’ outlooks change; so, too, did ours. What do we want from our clothes now? Practicality? Comfort? Fun? “Our customers’ habits over the past year have changed,” explains Page, “with a shift away from trend-driven items and into shopping with a purpose.” So what does this mean for your wardrobe? Several aesthetic moments emerged from this most unprecedented of seasons: from serotonin-boosting joy to a grown-up move on from loungewear via escapism in the form of dreamy romance and beach-bound pieces, SS21 threw up trends which suit our current WFH lives while looking towards a more hopeful future.
“We’re looking forward to celebrating the weddings, events and parties that will roll over to next year,” says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear buying at Browns. The cult retailer is spotlighting dancing shoes from Paris Texas and Mach & Mach, and disco-ready dresses from Paco Rabanne and Rotate. “There is a growing sense of optimism and we will continue to celebrate how fashion can lift the spirits and spread joy,” adds Natalie Kingham, global fashion officer at Matches Fashion.
Read on for the four key trends to come out of the most unexpected fashion month to date.
Happy Wardrobe, Happy Mind
Reasons to be cheerful were few and far between in 2020. Designers sought an antidote to the never-ending doom and gloom by injecting a healthy dose of serotonin into their collections. Good cheer was the order of the day, whether it was through joyful casting – see Michael Halpern spotlighting frontline workers and Christopher John Rogers employing his roster of muses – or rainbow hues and playful prints, as seen in The Elder Statesman’s tongue-in-cheek tie-dye and Molly Goddard’s zingy hues – a real tonic. “We saw a sea of bold, bright colours in a multitude of fabrics and textures,” says Page. “We bought over 3,000 joyful dresses for SS21, including an exclusive sunshine yellow rendition from TOVE, and 500 ‘lady in red’ options.” Bring on mood-boosting clothes that add a little fun to our everyday lives.
Gallery: Duvet coats to keep you warm all winter long (Red (UK))
Grown Up & Grounded
We may have embraced coordinating loungewear last year but for 2021 we’re looking to feel a little more put together. This needn’t mean abandoning comfort; on the contrary, designers introduced easy styles and soft-touch fabrics which suit WFH life while allowing us to employ some sartorial structure. “We love The Row’s slouchy silhouettes and Proenza Schouler’s take on dressed down knitwear,” says Page of the SS21 offering. For Kingham, labels like Lauren Manoogian, JW Anderson and Khaite are providing the foundations for a timeless wardrobe which equips you for the new normal. Think refined knitwear, soft but smart trousers and failsafe basics like oversized shirts and loafers to see you through the working day.
Here’s Your Getaway
If the most that 2020 threw at you was a cancelled holiday, you’re one of the lucky ones but either way, we’re all dreaming of far-flung places. Sure, we’re not certain when we’ll next don a bikini or roll out a beach towel but if looking to a more hopeful (and sunny) future is a healthy coping mechanism, count us in. “Designers perfectly captured escapism through colour, texture, and prints – even literal takes on ‘under the sea’ at Versace,” says Page. Etro’s Baja-inspired bucket hats and matching swimwear had us dreaming of sundowners on sandy beaches, while Michael Kors’ seaweed-green gowns, Altuzarra’s platform sandals and Rixo’s ’60s-inspired beach cover-ups are crying out to be worn with plenty of SPF and a pair of oversized shades. Safe international travel is still out of reach but imagining our sun-soaked wardrobe for a future getaway is something we can do right now from the comfort of our homes.
From cancelled weddings and socially distanced dates to the sheer domesticity of lockdown, there was little room for romance to flourish in 2020. Looking ahead to a time when we can physically embrace our loved ones, designers called for a little whimsy for SS21. Turning out ruffles, frills, lace and chiffon, from Erdem’s Regencycore gowns to Cecilie Bahnsen’s modest femininity, there’s hope for romance yet. “Despite restrictions, our wedding edit has performed brilliantly,” says Kingham. Whether you opt for Simone Rocha’s darker take on the fairy tale (she layered harnesses over tulle frocks) or go for Jacquemus’ contemporary clean lines, hyperfeminine dresses can be worn by brides and beyond.