A Patagonia fleece pullover may not be the first item that comes to mind when you think of streetwear, but it should be.
At Project Las Vegas last week, WGSN trend consultant Rachel Dimit shared how Fall ’19 streetwear trends are culling inspiration from unlikely sources, including the outdoor market and the country club.
“As new consumers enter the market, streetwear is simply evolving,” she said. And from a design perspective, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint one story.
Here, Dimit shares four streetwear “starter packs” for next fall and outlines how each theme is a reflection of the diverse, remixed cultured we’re living in today.
New Ivy League
Preppy fashion is staging a comeback, but Dimit says it’s laden with style cues that hark back to 1990’s urban culture. Head-to-toe looks adopted from ’90s sportswear, she noted, along with traditional materials feel subversive in the current streetwear environment driven by loud graphics and logos.
“Prep, trad, ivy league—no matter what you call it, it somehow always cycles back into fashion. And although born on college campuses and country clubs, the style has morphed over the years to not only become a staple of the privileged class but a hallmark of rebellious urban counterculture,” Dimit said. “Skaters and rappers have gravitated toward typical symbols of wealth, with allusions to yachting, skiing and other pursuits of leisure.”
Color instantly makes this trend story youthful. Bright red and periwinkle fell fresh against moody autumnal colors like maroon, plum and forest green. The colors are combined with mid-century tones of electric blue and golden yellow. Dimit describes it as a “dynamic palette that takes the best of yesterday and remixes it with today’s most relevant colors.”
Rugby shirts are a base layer for the New Ivy League, not to mention an ideal canvas to show off these colors. The classic item returns with unexpected color combinations, relaxed fits, embroidered logos and regalia. Similarly, the crested shirt allows heritage brands to visit their archives and for new brands to invent a history of their own.
From fleece to ski, outerwear is key. In particular, Dimit said sailing parkas allow brands to play with nautical colors, neon hues, optic winter whites and logos. “It’s a statement piece of outerwear that appeals to the streetwear consumer’s appetite for performance gear and utility function,” she explained.
Corduroy blazers are also poised to be a big item for 2019. Golden beige and other neutrals are likely to be a commercial success, Dimit said, while jewel tones, reds, pinks and blues “add character and give off a Wes Anderson-type of feel.”
Streetwear’s obsession with working class culture is evolving into the Cyber Workman. Wearable, familiar and futuristic, Dimit said the utilitarian trend story “combines classic work wear pieces with dystopian images up tomorrow.”
“Workwear acts as an endless source of inspiration,” she said. “With both heritage and blue collar already having had their heydays, it’s time to look forward and envision what the uniforms and work clothes of tomorrow will look like.”
With that, Dimit said designers are incorporating “clever references” like blending “cyber neons” and “cool space grays” with advanced materials. Coated nylons, transparent and opaque PVC and water resistant synthetics help the wearer feel prepared to “handle the harsh elements of being a millennial.”
The fireman’s coat sets the tone for the trend story. “With parkas of all shapes and lengths trending for multiple market segments, it is the use of color and workwear details that separates the fireman’s coat,” Dimit said. Consider Day-Glo colors for trims or base colors with reflective safety stripes and metal hook closures, she added. For a more commercial look, try a muted color and “dial back” the iridescence.
The utility vest exemplifies the trend for function. A smattering of pockets, hooks and clips are easy additions, but Dimit urges designers to up the ante with ballistic nylon, coated twill and technical mesh.
The same material suggestions ring true for the new utility overall. “For this consumer, embrace high tech and futuristic fabrics. Translucent PVC bibs with matching jackets may not be for the faint of heart, but they certainly help to reinvent this piece,” Dimit said. Silk screens and atmosphere prints also add newness to the blue collar staple.
Work pants with carpenter pockets return in new punchy colors, either as the base or details. Work shirts are finessed with reflective tape, hidden pockets, zipper pockets, paneled constructions or contrast top-stitching.
The unisex tribe, Cozy Kids, emphasizes the best parts of athleisure, skateboarding and androgynous clothing. As oversized silos became de riguer in streetwear, Dimit said consumers became acclimated with drop shoulders, billowy proportions and elongated hemlines.
“With the casualization of dress codes everywhere, and most men’s and women’s desire to put comfort above all else, we might be entering an era where draping oneself exclusively in velvet is actually socially acceptable all the time,” Dimit said.
And in an age of heightening anxiety, she added, “It’s only natural that the idea of swaddling oneself in clothing equivalent to a weighted blanket would become a wearable thing in today’s ‘anything goes’ fashion climate.”
Hoodies are a key ingredient, especially those with a relaxed fit and oversized drop shoulder, Dimit noted.
“Checks and plaids work really well, as do advanced styling maneuvers with turtlenecks and woven shirts peeking out underneath,” she said. Oversized cardigans offer the same comforting feeling. Designers are pushing the item into new territories with melange knits, animal prints on mohair or as full-length garments that toe the line of outerwear.
Wide leg trousers carry into another fall season. Rigid twills and canvas work for a skater look, but Cozy Kids opt for more fluid and soft fabrications (i.e. corduroy or wool blends) that puddle over footwear. “Added points for pleats and belts,” Dimit quipped.
The plush pullover fleece top is a natural fit for the theme. “The pullover fleece is one of the hottest items for the season,” Dimit said for men and women. Off-white, blush and beige trimmed with fashion colors gives the outdoor item a sartorial spin. The contrast colors can also be used to highlight some of the functional details like zip or kangaroo pockets.
Track suits live here. However, Dimit urged brands to update the nostalgic sets with chaotic embroidery, or stacked logos and prints. “Over the top ’90s references and DIY type of graphics are fool proof,” she said. The velour matching set returns, too, but is pivoted toward a premium customer. “They are as cozy as ever, but the focus is now on premium trims and hardware,” she said.
The women’s Rave Queen story is an example of ’90s nostalgia bleeding into Y2K paranoia, Dimit said.
“They are becoming largely difficult to differentiate,” she added. However, Rave Queen is defined by a nightclub rave style that has been surging in the women’s market with designers referencing Matrix styling and body con silhouettes.
“It’s all about mixing glamour with gritty,” Dimit said. “Heavy textiles like leather, with dreamy textiles like sheer and mesh. Pairing dainty crystals with heavy-duty spandex and substantial jewelry is a good choice here. The overall look should be undeniably Keanu Reeves inspired.”
The primarily black and gray fashion story is popped with “out of this world bright” accents and metallic silver. Meanwhile, body con party favorites like the asymmetric top are a “foundational element.” As Dimit explained, an asymmetric touch gives basics more nuance and “pays homage to bondage styles made popular in underground queer circles.”
The pinafore dress is updated with a bustier, which Dimit said “instantly adds that subversive bondage edge” to a traditionally feminine and polite style. Cycling shorts evolve into bodysuits, often broken up with fanny packs. Slim, high-waisted trousers with sporty details like elastic cuffs offer a casual yet cool look in crushed velvet, denim, leather and PVC fabrications.
The leather overcoat is a key fashion piece, but Dimit said designers need to add an element of surprise to keep millennials’ interest, like embossed skins, eco alternatives and wet-look coated materials. “And it should go without saying, particularly for the women’s market, that this item should be oversized with substantial amounts of drape,” she said.
The Rave Queen can live as trims, too. Dimit said contrast stitches, excessive exposed zippers, D-rings, straps and belts contrast nicely with toned down tees, sweats and denim.