The new lifestyles and values consumers have adopted during the duration of the pandemic will linger over fashion for seasons to come. And while they will likely evolve as consumers become more acclimated to their new normal—or when the coronavirus is wiped out for good—WGSN director of mindset Amiyra Perkins, expects to see a strong emphasis on comfort, durability and protection for Spring/Summer ’21.
Versatility, performance fabrics and a return to craftsmanship are among the themes that Perkins described in a trend-forecasting webinar for Informa Markets, the producer of Magic, Project, Coterie, Micam Americas and Children’s Club. Though each show targets a specific consumer demographic, the overall mood for the season is one that places value on enduring designs.
Fashion with soothing and tactile qualities leads WGSN’s trend story for Coterie, Informa’s elevated women’s contemporary show. Called “simply human,” the theme centers around the touch starvation driven by social distancing, Perkins explained.
Here, fashion with a soft touch like lingerie-inspired layering pieces, and those with artisanal elements like crochet and macramé standout. These trends can also add a sentimental value, Perkins noted.
Collections that focus on better materials, perfect fits and timeless designs speak to a new mindset called “conscious minimalism,” while details like patches, pieced applications and upcycled deadstock add a bespoke feeling. Along with being more sustainable, natural dyes from plant sources bring a warm yet imperfect feeling to garments.
And just as important, Perkins said, is for brands to build authenticity and storytelling into their collections.
For Magic, a show focused on women’s young contemporary and trend-driven apparel, trends are driven by “future nostalgia,” a concept that Perkins says is the result of consumers living with one foot in the digital world and the other in the real world.
With the majority of social interaction taking place online—be it for school, work or special occasions—Perkins said women will gravitate toward fashion that balances retro aesthetics with futuristic elements like high shine, bold colorways or color blocking. The goal, she added, is to wear garments that a have visceral effect on screen.
While ’80s workout gear like sculpted bodysuits, second-skin tops and bike shorts toe the line between future and retro, details like peak-a-boo cutouts added a new level of modernity. There’s also a touch of play, Perkins said, that comes through silhouettes like boiler suits.
The trend, she added, is also a place for brands to experiment with psychedelic ’60s prints and gradients, especially on jersey items like leggings and mini dresses. Crystal embellishments heighten this playful kitschy feeling.
One of the realizations forced by the pandemic is the vulnerability of health and wellness. As a result, Perkins said men’s wear will call for technical and solution-based designs.
This trend, called “tech survivalist” is seen across the exhibitors at Project, Informa’s show for men’s and dual-gender apparel and accessories. “Doomsday prepping is becoming a mass market idea for men’s wear,” Perkins said.
The key to making apocalyptic-ready fashion, however, is blending utility and practicality with an aesthetic that is appropriate for everyday fashion.
Easy-care, water-resistant blazers, commuter trousers with slim cut legs and dark denim that can hide stains will be the foundational pieces to a post-pandemic office dress code, she described.
A return of ’90s minimalism with an emphasis on functionality and durability, as well as references of workwear and outdoor apparel, apply here as well. Multipurpose outerwear made with reflective, anti-odor and quick-dry fabrics are an opportunity for brands to explore, in addition to packable pieces and modular backpacks made with tough fabrications, Perkins added.
Sustainable themes in S/S ’21 children’s wear takes a softer approach to protection—for both the wearer and the environment.
For Children’s Club, Perkins described “tiny adventures” as a trend that turns to the natural world for creative escapism, albeit using more sustainable processes. Outdoor experiences like gardening and camping, she added, are gaining popularity as parents look for ways to step away from the screen.
These activities are influencing kids’ fashion through nature-inspired prints and details sourced from nature, like straw and raffia footwear and hats, and shell-adorned accessories. Sustainable slogans are also updating basics for the next generation of environmental activists.
Prairie details like soft gathers, embroideries, puff sleeves and voluminous easy-wear silhouettes are a kid-friendly extension of the women’s wear Cottagecore trend.
The trend, Perkins said, is also a prime space to incorporate deadstock fabrics as details or for complete material selections. It’s a sustainable way to spruce up the lining of outwear or to add a reversible element to pieces, she added.
For the tiny adventurist, look for statement pockets and mini bags to enter the fray in a variety of forms like cross-body and belt bags.
Though Perkins said the pandemic has thrown footwear trend forecasting for a loop, styles that are adaptable for a variety of uses will offer consumers the most value for S/S ’21.
Exhibitors at Informa’s footwear show, Micam Americas, are satiating this demand for versatility by offering more hybrid silhouettes that toe the line between active, fashion and workwear.
Sophisticated slippers, Perkins said, remain an area to watch, particularly as brands elevate designs with soft suede or minimalist silk uppers. Tassels and pompoms added a fashion element to the comfort items.
Slides and clogs echo this easy-breezy approach to dressing as consumers transition to the “outside world,” she added.
And as brands and consumers begin to retreat to tried-and-true styles, heritage silhouettes have an opportunity to shine in S/S ’21. Loafers and brogues will be among the ways consumers rediscover classic styling, Perkins said.