Hybrid lifestyles, pent-up demand for travel and consumers’ appreciation for vintage are among the influences behind WGSN’s Spring/Summer 2023 forecast for young women’s contemporary, women’s contemporary and men’s wear markets.
In a webinar Wednesday, held in partnership with Informa Markets Fashion, Sara Maggioni, WGSN’s head of women’s wear, and Noah Zagor, WGSN’s senior North American men’s wear strategist, outlined the main themes that will help refresh and renew the categories.
Style is always the key selling point, but Maggioni said there is a notable shift toward products that support wellbeing, self-care, and healing. Like sustainability, they are qualities that are no longer a “nice to have” but feel more like a necessity across all demographics, she said.
Young women’s contemporary
For Spring/Summer 2023, the young women’s contemporary consumer is hungry for joyful experiences and products. Maggioni said young demographics want to bring extravagance to their everyday life and liberate themselves from pandemic restrictions. Expect to see vibrant pastels, dopamine brights and trippy abstract prints update core silhouettes, which are not changing as quickly as in previous seasons.
The Desert Rider: Maggioni said the theme combines natural, lightweight materials with a sporty aesthetic based on bestselling items in the activewear and loungewear markets. Cargo pants worn with bralettes, unexpected layering and genderless designs offer a fresh look. By blending linen and hemp fabrics with performance-driven items, brands and retailers can appeal to both the outdoor and streetwear consumer.
The Maxi Adventurer: The Maxi Adventurer taps into consumers’ interest in outdoor living through the lens of a festivalgoer. Maggioni described a mix of formal pieces rendered in upbeat and colorful styles and bohemian elements and prints. Think nylon jackets layered over rustic fine knits and souvenir jewelry paired with adventure shorts and utility skirts.
The Meta Lounger: The metaverse is synonymous with dystopia and “harsh realities” but Maggioni said the Meta Lounger looks at the softer side of the digital world. Space-dyed effects, chromatic stripes and rainbow gradations bring a hi-tech look to comfortable pieces like bodysuits, ribbed cardigans and silk camisoles.
The Grounded Escapist: Natural textures and colors set the tone in the Grounded Escapist. Rock formations, rugged terrains and mineral motifs provide an alternative to perennial themes like stripes, florals and camouflages. Utility jeans, fluid tops, elevated crews, peasant blouse and split seam shorts are items to watch.
The Psychedelic Boheme: The boom in vintage and resale is impacting new aesthetic narratives. Boho, in its purist and most spirited sense, is making a comeback, Maggioni said. Look for vibrant ’70s florals and trippy abstract prints to add a nostalgic spin to resort shirts, wrap tops, knitted flare trousers and A-line skirts.
The Summer Enthusiast: This “endless summer” theme is a direct response to consumers craving light after a period of stress and anxiety. “Lounge to beach” items span shirt dresses, cozy waffle crewnecks and matching sets. include sun-faded colors, vintage graphics, natural fibers, reversible garments and vintage handwriting details
The Phygical Fanatic: “We’re seeing consumers wanting the perks of technology like working from home with real-life experiences and nostalgia,” Maggioni said. The sweet spot is a hybrid wardrobe that pulls references from the ’90s and ’00s. Look for flare trousers, slip dresses, tie-front blouses and second-skin tops enhanced with artificial colors and dyeing techniques and tactile ornamentation.
“Buy less, but better” is the overarching theme in S/S ’23 women’s contemporary. The optimistic spirit expressed in the younger market is present, but Maggioni said this consumer also wants to know more about how the product is made and what will happen to it at the end of its life.
Artisanal and technology come together in this segment, she added. Consumers crave creativity and appreciate slow processes; they are also wowed by digitization.
The Day to Night Socialite: Flexible working models and fluid lifestyles are teeing up demand for casual, business and party dresses. Expect to see sheer and silky materials for day, elements pulled from lingerie and touchable embellishment, Maggioni said. Casual bombers and blazers add edge to front tie blouses, camisoles and wrap skirts.
The Smart Lounger: Activewear-inspired silhouettes like premium leggings, bra tops and track pants are the foundation to this modular theme well-suited for commuters and remote workers. Color blocking and strategic cutouts give the pieces a “luxe performance” angle.
The Vibrant Florist: Leaves, florals and plants continue to inspire prints, silhouettes, and embroidery. Off-the-shoulder blouses, lace skirts and halter midi dresses are a natural choice for the ultra-feminine theme. Florals are a safe bet for spring but Maggioni pointed out that it’s important to introduce “the unexpected” like rare and unusual leaves, oversized florals and blurred renditions.
The Tech-Inspired Crafter: Maggioni urged designers to reimagine how they can replicate traditional techniques like crochet through technology and in the process reduce waste and production time. Midi-dresses, wrap tops and asymmetrical tanks lend themselves to this layer-friendly theme.
The Fluid Artist: Draping, sculptural pieces and fluid cuts are the blueprint for the Fluid Artist. The overall look is clean and minimalistic, but elements like pleating, curved cutouts and ruching add soft volume and structure. Key items include off-the-shoulder dresses and body-con dresses.
The Graphic Experimentalist: The Graphic Experimentalist is a joyful dresser that takes core graphics like stripes and checks and amps them up with new proportions and colors, Maggioni said. Items span matching sets, cropped shackets, boxy mini-dresses and crew tees, brought to life with euphoric prints, crochet and pattern clashing. The aesthetic is familiar and has a sense of structure that makes it ideal for genderless assortments.
The Rustic Artisan: The theme is an example of how designers can retain an “artisanal sensibility” in feminine looks. Described by Maggioni as “beach to bar” style, look for items like body-skimming dresses, sarong-style skirts and halter neck tops enhanced with “coastal collectible” and foliage motifs.
Bright colors and retro inspiration bring a comforting sense of nostalgia to S/S ’23 men’s wear. Though there is a lot more experimentation, Zagor said there’s still strong influence from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, while the younger markets are embracing the ’90s pop-punk aesthetic.
And don’t forget nature’s impact on men’s wear. Whether it’s tropical or woodland, Zagor said the outdoors is an undercurrent in S/S ’23 fashion.
The Desert Rider: Fashion feels both ancient and futuristic in this utilitarian theme that relies on “unpretentious” natural fabrics, dyes and sandy textures. Resort and patchwork shirts, safari jackets and knitted sets are key, while details like modular trims, ties and removable layers nod to technical outdoor gear.
The Business Casual Savant: Hybrid work structures require hybrid wardrobes. The solution, Zagor said, is a balanced selection of minimal yet elevated pieces like cardigans, wide-leg trousers and single-breasted blazers. The goal is to feel comfortable and polished without being overly stuffy. Look for knitted textures, color blocking and prints that mimic the look of pixelated images to add visual and textural interest.
The Mid-Century Modern Man: The costuming from the film “The Talented Mr. Ripley” serves as the inspiration behind this elegant vacation theme. Classic items like short suits, sport coats, varsity jackets, knit polos and printed scarves feel opulent yet subtle, making them a good investment for retailers that sell to a broad demographic.
The Guerilla Gardner: Pandemic hobbies like gardening drive this new twist on utilitarian outdoor fashion. Chore jackets, straight leg trousers, premium hoodies and baseball shirts capture this lounge-y and calming aesthetic. Oversized workwear gives it a streetwear edge, while sustainable materials, botanical prints and woodblock printing techniques underscore its roots in nature.
The Future Hedonist: Music festivals and nightlife are back, inviting more fluidity and sexuality in men’s wear, Zagor said. Riffing on the’70s disco era, expect to see statement pieces like silk button-down shirts, flared trousers and rocker boots. Bright colors and retro florals deliver boldness while draped materials juxtaposed to form-fitting silhouettes add sensuality. The trend isn’t for everyone, but Zagor said the right customer will gravitate toward it.
The Costal Explorer: The Northern European shoreline serves as the backdrop to the Coastal Explorer. With a strong nod to prep, the theme piles on the charm with nautical stripes, rope belts and toweling textures. Look for resort shirts, short-sleeve cardigans and short sets.
The Summer Chaser: “Wellness in the everyday” is the premise behind Summer Chaser, a luxe lounge theme that prioritizes lightweight fabrics that promote relaxation. Drawstring trousers, tunic tops, paperbag waist shorts and striped tanks are key. A warm yet autumnal color palette carries the pieces into fall.