A new year and decade has begun, meaning a new era of fashion is on the horizon.
2020 is a clean slate for designers, as many break away from streetwear and ’90s nostalgia to explore sustainability, fluid design and new forms of utility. And many of the trends align with one another, which will create a seamless year of fashion.
Here’s a look at 20 trends that will move fashion into new directions in 2020.
With the ’70s serving as a baseline for most 2020 trends, will this be the year that fashion (finally) says sayonara to ’80s and ’90s denim? It could be, at least for the troupe of influential French runway designers, like Hedi Slimane and Isabel Marant, who have dabbled in denim in recent seasons.
At Celine, which may go down as the most influential collection for Spring/Sumer 2020, Slimane made denim a central focus, serving strong ’70s references with bleached flare jeans, embroidered denim shorts and slim jean jackets. The denim was refined and classic—a foundation for bolder ’70s statements. Aviator glasses, fur vests and blouses—punched up with gathered sleeves, ruffled necklines and pussy bows—smacked of ’70s glamour, while crochet tops, suede jackets and wide brim hats added a bohemian feeling.
Marant kept the free-spirited vibe going with cut-off shorts, beaded details, crochet and a desert color palette. Warm colors and retro prints from Fendi and Prada’s long line suiting for women brought the ’70s story to ready-to-wear. Marc Jacobs channeled the decade with floral print three-piece suits and flare jeans. And the richness of ’70s fashion was a natural fit for Gucci, which presented high-waisted flare blue jeans and a multi-shade denim leisure suit, complete with a chain-link belt. The denim pieces were rare blue moments in the brand’s otherwise orange- and beige-tinted collection.
Color continues to draw millennial consumers and color denim is one of the most commercial ways for designers to approach the trend. And they’re approaching color with head-to-toe monochromatic looks. Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing injected bold pops of yellow, pink, cobalt blue and Kelly green into his assortment of S/S 20 jeans and cropped and belted jean jackets. Color denim helped Isabel Marant tell her festival-friendly story, too. The designer included orange denim puffed sleeved blouse and matching jeans, as well as green denim cut-off shorts and jean jackets. Chanel opted for red jeans to tell its Parisian tale. And Alberta Ferretti added red and orange to her collection by way of tie-dyed denim overalls, slouchy boyfriend jeans and hobo bags.
When it comes to trouser and footwear trends, history tends to repeat itself. Therefore, the wave of ’70s-inspired pants and flare jeans means platform heels are due to gain momentum in 2020. The stacked shoe disappeared for most of the 2010s, giving way to block heels and sneakers, but expect square-toe loafers, tall boots and open-toe sandals to receive the platform heel treatment.
With initiatives like Ellen MacArthur’s The Jean Redesign program gaining traction in 2019 and circularity becoming a prominent topic in jeanswear, upcycled denim will likely enter the fray across all tiers of fashion. The approach is both creative and sustainable, as brands like Re/Done and Cie Denim have proven over the years with their contrasted denim designs.
Upcycled denim is an accessible way for designer brands to introduce sustainable fabrics into their collections. For S/S 20, Givenchy designer Clare Waight Keller culled inspiration from her days at Calvin Klein in the ’90s with an assortment of jeans, long skirts and shorts made from deadstock denim fabrics. In London, Vin + Omi repurposed Levi’s jeans as dresses and inside-out jeans decorated with statements about sustainability.
Repurposing old garments is also a way for brands to flex their longevity and tap into the ongoing nostalgia trend. With brands like Dockers, Diesel, Gap and Tommy Jeans either getting into resale or restyling vintage pieces in 2019, more brands may be encouraged to revisit their archives. (Ralph Lauren, take note.)
Designers and consumers aren’t unlikely to give up the functional perks of garments like utility jackets and cargo pants any time soon, but they will become more elegant in 2020. Hints of Yves Saint Laurent safari jacket, which was introduced in 1968 and became an icon of ’70s glamour, were sprinkled across S/S 20 collections by Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Elli Saab. The flat pocket cargo details are an elevated step away from how luxury streetwear labels like Off-White and Vetements interpreted the cargo trend one year ago.
Expect to see the safari trend evolve with an emphasis on caftan gowns, satin cargo trousers (for day and night) and headwear like bucket hats with neck capes.
In the same spirit of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Gen Zers are speaking out about climate change and forcing companies to step up their commitments to reducing their footprints. Fashion weeks give them a global stage to make their voices heard. Look for more activism to take place in and around fashion hubs, and for designers to join the conversation through special collections, statement tees and new sustainable goals.
In 2019, tabloids forgot about Katie Holmes’ breakup with Jamie Fox when she stepped out in a cashmere bra top by Khaite. That’s the power of 2020’s most revealing trend. Expect to see lingerie-inspired tops—made in crochet or with retro floral prints—become a popular way to update last year’s midi skirt.
Jacquemus shut down the tiny handbag trend in 2019 with the Le Chiquiti, a top handle bag that stands at just 3.3-inches tall. Expect to see the pendulum swing in the opposite direction in 2020. Oversized bags are due for a comeback—a look that Opening Ceremony is already capitalizing on with its $98 PVC tote that is more than 3ft. wide.
Now that slime green and yellow have had their fair share of the limelight, orange is poised to break out as a key color trend for 2020. The citrus hue is a leading shade for men’s and women’s fashion, serving a series of bold looks, spanning retro ’70s (Prada and Peter Pilotto) and high shine leather (Annakiki), to elegant satin (Marni), ’90s minimalism (Bottega Veneta) and romantic ruffles (Laura Biagiotti). Look for orange to shift toward burnt and terracotta hues in the fall.
Shorts are on a journey. In 2020, the abbreviated bottom is graduating from its casual and sporty roots (goodbye bike shorts) to ready-to-wear and evening. For S/S 20, names like Chanel and Saint Laurent upgraded shorts with premium materials like tweed, leather and sequins, and in lengths that spanned hot pants and tailored Bermudas, to slouchy vacation shorts. Short suits are also gaining prominence for men and women as Chloe and ‘It’ brand Bottega Veneta dish out their version of the summer suit. Expect to see the short suit—in a bold color or print—become the new power suit that millennial “boss babes” favor.
And shorts are a go-to for denim brands. Isabel Marant and Givenchy presented frayed cut-offs, while Rag & Bone kept the look more collegiate-ready, pairing denim short shorts with a navy blazer on its runway.
Sometimes the absence of color makes the boldest fashion statement, as is the case with ecru denim. Beige, off-white and ecru denim has been a side note in the industry’s movement toward utility, workwear and genderless garments. However, the au naturel color trend also sends a strong message about sustainability, which is only going to grow louder in 2020.
Another symptom that fashion may be ready to part with streetwear is the rise of satin. The evening fabric is making a play for daywear as brands like Staud, Tibi and Tom Ford churn out satin culottes, jumpsuits and cargo pants. Men’s brands are getting into the glamorous look, too, including Dior and Dries Van Noten with pleated satin trousers, and Dunhill with dark satin coats. The result is a lounge effect that looks cool with sneakers or heels. And with fashion in a high color cycle, the decadent fabric also helps intensify the hues.
Whereas hems were a playground for designers to chop, unravel, embellish and deconstruct from 2017 to 2019, the front yoke is taking precedence in 2020. Perhaps one of the final relics of the ’80s nostalgia trend to seep into mainstream fashion, jeans with front yoke details offer women a new way to wear high-waisted jeans. Mavi is getting into the trend for S/S 20. And Pull & Bear is already offering it in its holiday denim collection. Expect to see this detail translated for shorts and denim mini-skirts in the summer.
Vacation vibes never go out of style, especially for travel-obsessed millennials. So, it should come as no surprise that the camp shirt lives on. The lightweight, short-sleeve button-down evokes the feeling of endless summer with psychedelic patterns, tropical motifs and safari prints. The tops are an ideal companion for the trove of relaxed fit, pleated trousers and sandals trending in men’s wear.
Transparency isn’t just a sustainable buzzword—it’s also a fashion trend in 2020. Chiffon and organza tops have billowed in and out of women’s wear for years as puffed sleeved blouses and ethereal dresses, but the transparent trend veers into men’s wear thanks to labels like Virgil Abloh-designed Louis Vuitton and Dior giving it the runway approval for S/S 20. The newly gender fluid fabric—which is frequently used in icy or pastel color ways—will be a favorite among trendsetting Gen Z men. Look for lightweight parkas, button-down camp shirts and layered tees to lead the transparent look.
Anytime bohemia becomes fashionable, fringe is likely around the corner. But for S/S 20, fringe feels light and feather-like as unraveled ends of macrame, knots threads and gauze strips of ribbon. The flourishes sway from the skirts of dresses, the hems of skirts and the sides of shoulder bags.
A U.S. presidential election year always brings out fashion’s political side. Along with shining a spotlight on which brands are dressing (or refusing to dress) candidates and their spouses, designers often use their fall/winter runway shows to make a last-minute case for the causes and candidates they support. If 2020 is anything like 2016, statement T-shirts will be a must-have.
A cousin of Pantone’s Color of the Year in 2018, Ultra Violet, lavender has been bypassed by designers in favor of pale pink and various shades of nude for several seasons. However, 2020 may be the tipping point. Lavender’s slow ascent was seen in S/S 2020 collections by Ulla Johnson, Loewe, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Or perhaps it was Jacquemus’ runway show, magically staged in the lavender fields of Provence, that awakened designers’ sense to the color.
Jennifer Lopez’s surprise strut on the Versace catwalk may have been one of buzziest fashion moments in 2019, but the return of the brand’s signature Jungle print was a close second. The eye-popping green and turquoise print is synonymous with the brand’s sexy persona and an indicator that signature prints may be the new logo mania. It’s working for French up-and-comer Marine Serre. The designer’s signature crescent mood print has landed on the radar of fashionistas like Kendall Jenner, Rita Ora and Beyonce, who wore the print head-to-toe on a top, leggings, gloves and sock boots.
Leather for spring might sound like a hot mess, but brands like Coach 1941, Givenchy, Marni and Prada are making a strong case for it to become a year-round staple with garments like tank dresses, bandeaus and versatile trench coats. Cheery pops of color help lighten leather looks. Standouts include sunny yellow, orange, teal and gray.