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The Evolution of Festival Fashion

Flower crown? Check. Denim cutoffs? Check. A high tolerance for rubber boots in the thick of summer? Check. These style statements and more are synonymous with music festival goers and festival fashion season—a time when retailers switch up their spring merchandising strategies and introduced global prints, vintage-inspired denim and bohemian accoutrements (i.e. fringe, fringe and more fringe) to their sales floors.

Or that was at least the case until 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak forced Coachella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury and more to press pause on the music.

Though Woodstock was arguably the birthplace of festival fashion and remains a source of inspiration for festival goers on both sides of the Atlantic, festival fashion as we know it today landed on the radar of young shoppers in the early 2000s when British style icon Kate Moss plodded through the mud at Glastonbury in the U.K. wearing barely-there jean shorts and Hunter boots. Moss’ unofficial endorsement of the traditional Wellington boot catapulted the brand’s status as a fashion ‘It’ item.

While the Glastonbury faithful tend to veer toward fashion statements that mimic the off-duty style of a British rocker with leather jackets, striped jeans, high-waisted jean shorts and vintage band tees, the look is more bohemian in California where Coachella takes place each April. At Coachella, floral crowns, rainbow brights and a touch of fantasy borrowed from Burning Man enter the fray. Most looks, however, are grounded with denim like oversized jean jackets, short shorts and flare jeans.

The future of festival fashion will likely include protective accessories like face masks, and trend forecasters expect to see more apocalyptic fashion choices that represent a sign of the times. And as Gen Z and Gen Alpha inherit the festivals from the aging millennial cohort, sustainable fashion will subsequently become more popular. Secondhand items and new pieces from sustainable brands are likely to dominate the scene.