Fall/Winter 22-23 will be a balancing act for apparel brands and retailers, according to Sara Maggioni, WGSN head of women’s wear.
On one hand, global lockdowns will continue to have an influence on the products that perform. “We are in for an uneven recovery. It will vary a lot depending on the region,” she said. “There is still a lot of disruption in the supply chain, shortages, rising shipping costs—rising costs in general—but also people are really reprioritizing their spending.”
Despite this shift in consumerism, Maggioni says there are opportunities for brands to explore this fall, notably items with functional modular design and fashion that speaks to the eternal optimist.
“Dopamine dressing, or choosing clothes that make us feel good, is here to stay,” she said, noting that WGSN has seen a 5,000 percent increase in searches for fuchsia. “It’s almost like a reward for making it through these really strange and kind of dark times.”
In a webinar last week, held in partnership with Informa Markets Fashion, Maggioni outlined the key themes that will help refresh and renew women’s contemporary category. From splashes of color to a renewed appreciation for occasion dressing, the key items and themes for F/W 22-23 signal a buying season that will have rely heavily on the emotional pull of clothes and design.
Elements like color will become “key differentiators” that bring new energy to women’s fashion. The mood-boosting power of color will be leveraged through solid colors on single items, colorful layering and styling, or color blocked designs.
“It’s really about injecting a very confident color into bestsellers or into minimalist designs,” Maggioni said.
Expect to see Atlantic blue, mineral yellow, sweet coral, article blue and artisanal red pop up on knit sweaters, bold outerwear and fashion shirts.
The pandemic has introduced a more flexible approach to dressing. “What’s important are products that really can really balance both comfort and style, and serve different functions,” Maggioni said.
Items like the quilted pullover, sweatshirt, hoodie, leggings, roll-neck top and utility trousers in versatile washed neutrals are key. Details like technical trims, varsity blue and red accents and relaxed silhouettes added a touch of sport to the aesthetic, however.
Consumers are looking for ways to refine the outdoor aesthetic they embraced during quarantine for their new work and social life. “Think about sleeker silhouettes, layering, detachable components, all-weather dresses and quilted separates,” Maggioni said.
Key items include the denim boiler suit, bomber jacket, jacquard knit, A-line denim midi skirt and check overshirt. Shirring and ruching, blurred plaid, florals and twists on classic checks and stripes bring an outdoor element to the everyday pieces.
“This is really about a more fashion-led approach to outdoors apparel as opposed to the more typical active-inspired looks,” Maggioni said.
Designers are revisiting the bohemian aesthetic of the ’70s, but not the literal or costume-y way that was trendy in 2015 (i.e. floppy hats and fringe). Rather, Maggioni said the popularity of vintage and thrifted fashion is giving way to items like roomy dresses, quilted mini-skirts and slouchy boots.
Arts and crafts florals, paisley prints and vintage tapestries tee up opportunities to play with rich colors like cooper and honeycomb.
“Nostalgia is high on the agenda,” she said. “When we are in uncertain times, we tend to go back to familiarity, to comfort and what makes us feel good.”
Contained extravagance makes more sense for consumers during a pandemic than glitter, all-over sequins and complicated cutouts. “We are seeing this kind of low-key drama—dramatic silhouettes but not too over the top,” Maggioni said. “Really consider exaggerated sleeves, for example, or using shear layers to create volume or adding a little bit of shine.”
Key items include the fluid wrap dress, ruched shirting and party tops with details like volume, slicker surfaces and recycled metallic threads.
“It’s really important to retain that right high-low balance because we want to make sure that the wearer can move about their day without having to change,” she said.