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Comfort, Utility and Versatility Drive Future Sourcing Trends

Fashion is at a crossroads: continue with cutting-edge strategies developed to persevere during Covid or slide back into familiar (yet unprofitable) habits? Get the experts' perspective at our in-person Sourcing Summit, Oct. 19 at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street.

Identifying color and fabric trends is as emotional as it is logical. Sourcing for Fall/Winter 2021-2022 and Spring/Summer 2022 apparel, however, requires a deep understanding of how the pandemic is affecting consumers’ purchasing decisions and personal style.

A webinar on Wednesday, hosted by Sourcing at Magic in partnership with trend forecasting agency WGSN, provided a closer look at the colors, fabrics and themes for the seasons and how they connect to the desire to find comfort, stability and a touch of well-deserved indulgence.

“We’re certainly seeing different priority priorities around purchasing,” said Helen Palmer, WGSN head of materials, knits and textiles. Textiles that offer soothing and tactile elements are gaining traction as consumers yearn for a comforting touch. “There’s quite a lot of self-gifting and buying things that are comfortable and soft—things that make you feel well and feel good,” she said.

That desire for comfort is evident in fashion’s unwavering love for nostalgic designs and colors—a theme that Palmer said is trickling into home décor as more time is being spent in homes. Upcycled textiles and garments that feature crafted and mending techniques offer a different kind of vintage allure, but are comfort nonetheless. This home-crafted look is expected to appear in future textiles.

Designers will also need to prioritize “functional seasonality,” a term used to describe everything from colors and fabrics with season-less appeal, to durable fibers, to garments that can protect and adapt to unpredictable weather patterns. Here, Palmer said fabrics from the outdoor apparel space will be integrated into daywear to provide the wearer with thermal regulation, breathability and other performance attributes. “We’re going to have to make our garments work quite a lot harder for us,” she added.

Color

Palmer urged brands to consider adopting annual color palettes versus seasonal ones. A strong roster of core colors allows brands to build more consistent and efficient supply chains. And to consumers, classic colors convey longevity and versatility, meaning garments will have a longer shelf life in their closets.

In WGSN’s palette for the seasons, unbleached cotton, olive oil, pewter, French navy and black serve as foundational colors to a fashion palette that consists jade, dark cedar, artisanal red, lazuli blue and pops of clay, coral, butter and violet.

Themes

Domestic Plush: With the home being the central hub for work and play, consumers will want to dress the part in dense pile plush and fleece fabrics, easy-care wovens and knits, and garments that have cozy and insulating qualities. Duvet-inspired fabrics like felted and brushed flannel wools, fleeced-based jerseys, chunky knits, furry textures and padding and quilting will live here. Stripes, micro-textures and tonal patterns will enhance the appearance of these comfort-driven fabrics.

Repurposed Craft: From tie-dye, to mending, to knitting cardigans, consumers fell in love with DIY-ing their own clothes during quarantine as a sustainable hobby. This has led to a renewed appreciation for locally made fashion and craftsmanship, Palmer said, as well as embellishments and trims that spark joy. Quilted patchwork, upcycled denim and cozy materials like flannels and felts made with recycled fibers will continue to thrive. The trend also makes room for artisan ikat, folk prints, ditsy florals and paisley flourishes.

From tie-dye, to mending, to knitting cardigans, consumers fell in love with DIY-ing their own clothes during quarantine as a sustainable hobby.

Ulla Johnson

Modern WFH Uniform: Authentic utility drills, twills, canvas cotton and denim provide the steady foundation for the new work-from-home uniform, Palmer said. In an effort to look polished while being home, she said consumers are turning to modern interpretations of classic workwear for the category’s simple but refined silhouettes. Brushed, glazed and coated surfaces add a tactile element to these durable fabrics, while clean color-blocking and pieced and paneled construction add style.

In an effort to look polished while being home, she said consumers are turning to modern interpretations of classic workwear for the category’s simple but refined silhouettes.

Junya Watanabe

Reconsidered Classics: Though the need for formal work fashion has declined, “smartened-up” and modern heritage styles continue to resonate with consumers looking for timeless staples. Prince of Wales checks, chevron and herringbone tweeds and striped shirting are key. The main difference, Palmer pointed out, is that now consumers want these fabrics to work for them. As a result, look for versions that are wrinkle-free, anti-bacterial and easy to care for.

Everyday Opulence: The party invites have disappeared, but the desire to dress up hasn’t vanished entirely. Consumers are warming up to the idea of wearing fluid satins and silks, luxe leathers, velvet, lace and sheer fabrics as everyday wear. Vintage florals, brocades, needlework and embroidery bring an historical element to the trend.

The party invites have disappeared, but the desire to dress up hasn’t vanished entirely.

Victoria Beckham

Protective Performance: The popularity of outdoor activities and unpredictable weather patterns are leading to the mainstreaming of outdoor apparel—or at least its performative qualities. These technical materials, however, must take an “earth-loving” zero-waste approach. Look for problem-solving fabrics like bonded and reversible weaves, perforated jersey, ribbed knits and coatings that protect the wearer from wind and rain. Trims like laces, paracords and zipper tapes made from recycled plastic are hallmarks of the outdoor category, while ombre effects and lacquered or marbled camouflage tee up unique color combination.

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