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Historical References Inspire This Spring/Summer 2020 Utility Fashion Trend

With Babylonia, the ancient state and cultural area that now encompasses the Middle East, increasingly becoming a source of design inspiration, womenswear buyers can expect to see primitive aesthetics, intricate patterns and jewel motifs for Spring/Summer 2020.

In a webinar co-hosted with UBM Fashion, Melissa Moylan, Fashion Snoops vice president, creative director-womenswear, described Babylon, a Spring/Summer 2020 trend story that incorporates these history-derived themes with a focus on utility garments.

“It’s a whole lifestyle that preserves the past but makes it relevant for our future,” she said.

Earthy neutrals lay the foundation for the trend story. These nature-inspired colors are blended with “mystical” shades of purple, bright red and orange. Prints, Moylan said, are exotic and ethnic. Damask and ikat are among the more ornate design, while primitive blocking and flax lines add a simpler, old world feel. Reptile prints stay true to form. However, camouflage takes on an abstract view with a marbling effect, she added.

Ulla Johnson
Utility and abstract camo by Ulla Johnson Andrew H. Walker/WWD/Shutterstock

In denim, Babylon calls for the utility denim Trucker jacket, which Moylan said servers as an update to a basic boxy jacket. The jacket features multiple deep utility pockets and can be done in lightweight denim or twill. The boiler suit comes into play with a relaxed fit and tapered leg. The style, she added, is slightly more minimal but still incorporates details like flap pockets. Cargo jeans with oversized pockets are also trending, particularly in a dark wash and with an elastic hem.

Other key items include oversized camp shirts with utility pockets, maxi dresses inspired by caftans, baggy pants made with fluid, shiny fabrications and wrap skirts that take their drapey shape from the sarong. The cargo pant is also important, Moylan said, updated with a baggy fit.

For footwear, Moylan named the slide sandal, slip-on shoe and the ankle wrap sandal as silhouettes to watch. Basket weave leathers and canvas add a natural feel to accessories. Meanwhile, items like statement earrings and rope belts are an easy way for designers to add a crafted touch to accessories, she said.