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How Woodstock and the Kardashian-Jenners Will Influence Festival Fashion This Year

Instagram feeds around the world will soon transition from snapshots of cozy brunch spots and camel-color layered looks, to rows of palm trees, distant stages and squads dressed in tie-dye.

Festival season is around with the corner, and with it, the fashion that will influence the young women’s and junior’s market well into summer.

While the grown-up SXSW kicked-off the festival calendar in March, the more free-spirited Coachella, set to take place April 12-21 under the Palm Spring, Calif. sun, is the event for fashion watchers to gawk at.

Here, experts share how celebrity and social media will influence 2019 festival fashion and why the events are ripe for fashion experimentation.

Festival storytelling

After a long winter, retailers are welcoming the opportunity to shift their communication to consumers. And style edits and festival shops are likely vessels for retailers to tout their festival garb.

Fast fashion e-tailer Fashion Nova is in tune with 2019 festival fashion trends. The brand, which has collaboration with Kylie Jenner and Cardi B, checks off the list festival wish list with neon yellow bodysuits, mini dresses and mesh crop tops, as well as a range of bright tie-dye tops, fringe tops and crochet knit sets.

Fellow e-tailer Asos has subscribed to the neon trend with Spring ’19 collection ignited with lime green cut-out bodysuits, Trucker jackets, cropped sweaters and fanny packs.

Los Angeles-based online retailer Revolve, which famously hosts its own festival during Coachella chock-full of influencers and celebrities, is starting the season off a curated selection of daisy crochet crop tops, mini sun dresses and accessories made from natural materials like jute and raffia. The e-tailer is also promoting a summery selection of light wash denim, tanks and band tees curated by Cotton Inc.

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Rag & Bone’s Maya high-rise short with skin-revealing side zippers, Levi’s button front mini-skirts and Agolde cut off shorts are among the classic festival items from Revolve.

Meanwhile, jumpsuits—despite being an inconvenient style to undo in a portable toilet—continue to be popular choices. A Lovers + Friends bustier cropped denim jumpsuit and Wrangler playsuit are among the denim one-pieces to make it into the e-tailer’s “Festival Vibe” shop.

Influential line-ups

Don’t underestimate the influence of celebrity.

“Music definitely drives a lot of fashion choices at festivals, from style tribes influenced by a particular genre of music to fans adopting trends set by their favorite artists,” said Jill Guenza, VP, global women’s design at Levi’s.

This year, Guenza said she’ll be looking at what “ground-breaking artists” like Billie Eilish and Gabi Wilson (H.E.R.) will be wearing. “For both artists, their fashion styles are extensions of their voices, which gives their looks an authenticity that fans tap into. Part of the reason Levi’s are the choice of so many festival goers is because they are the perfect canvas for authentic self-expression, no matter which artist one looks to for inspiration,” she said.

Sartorially speaking, the influence of Coachella headliners Childish Gambino and Tame Impala are miles away from last year’s game-changing performance by Beyoncé, who donned custom Levi’s cut-offs, jewel-encrusted Balmain sweatshirts and sequin-spangled Christian Louboutin boots during what was dubbed “Beychella” by admirers.

“Last year, Beyonce’s Levi’s cutoff shorts she debuted during her Coachella headlining performance were a sensation,” Guenza said. “As people crave more and more individuality in how they express themselves through fashion, musicians that bring something truly new or different to their style will be the biggest influencers.”

Beyonce fans at Coachella
Beyonce fans at Coachella Amy Harris/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The final Coachella headliner, Arianna Grande, may give festival fashion goers a reason to try a high ponytail or extra-long sweatshirt, but Sharon Graubard, founder and creative director of the trend forecasting firm MintModa, said don’t expect too many to dress the part.

“Obviously, if Beyoncé shows up in varsity shirt, it will influence things, but in general attendees are more influenced by each other,” she argued.

The trends

The fairy-like, bohemian style coined by British festival ‘It’ girls Alexa Chung and Sienna Miller in the early 2000s is giving way the body-con silhouettes, supped up colors and contoured faces of America’s most famous family. This year, festival fashion is split into two camps: Western prairie or Kardashian kids.

“Coachella has been Kardashian-ized,” Graubard said. “There is a movement away from Boho and hippy, to a more polished look.”

Graubard expects to see more body-revealing silhouettes inspired by active wear along the 2019 festival circuit. Bra tops, bare midriffs, body suits, bike shorts and sheer or mesh garments in intense neon colorways quench festival goers’ need to stand out, while windbreaker jackets, reflective sunglasses, Balenciaga (or similar) sneakers and mini status bags add a streetwear factor to the total look. Hands-free accessories like cross-body and belt bags by Gucci and YSL are key items to watch, she added.

Christian Cowan Fall/Winter '19
Christian Cowan Fall/Winter ’19 Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

Designer Christian Cowan summed up the style in his neon-infused Fall ’19 catwalk enlivened with hoodies swathed in silver pailletes, open mesh polo dresses and G-string revealing leggings.

“Festivals are a place where people can play into fantasy, be free and experimental with their fashion,” Graubard said of the bold and sexy style. “It’s a safe environment to let your freak flag fly and it’s a place that you can take [a look] a bit further.”

On the opposite end of the fashion festival spectrum, lives a new Western-meets-prairie aesthetic. Modest prairie dresses, button-down shirts with yoke details and accessories with hand-tooled hardware bring a fresh look to festival grounds. The look is pulled together with florals, suede fringe jackets and cowboy boots of every iteration, Graubard described.

Coach 1941
Coach 1941 Spring/ Summer ’19 Pixelformula/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Coach 1941 captured the style in its Spring ’19 runway show with gauzy, romantic prairie dresses, white leather yoke jackets and fringe vests.

And then there’s the influence of Woodstock—the OG of festivals—to contend with in August. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, which has already secured a diverse line-up of acts including Jay-Z, Santana and Miley Cyrus, will likely bring a flood of psychedelic and nostalgic fashion to the forefront.

And as fashion fate would have it, the anniversary coincides with the return of tie-dye.

By the time August rolls around, Graubard said tie-dye will be in full swing as high-end designers and fast fashion are chasing the trend. However, rather than the grungy looks that prevailed at the 25th anniversary of Woodstock in 1994, Graubard said the fashion will be uplifting and bright. Tie-dye will be updated in candy utopia colors. “People are yearning for optimism, a chance to have fun and hope,” she added.

R13 Spring/Summer '19
R13 Spring/Summer ’19 wwd

Tie-dye bodes well for denim, too.

“There’s a whole lot of novelty washes like acid wash, tie-dye and dip-dyed,” Graubard said. Rose-tinted washes, splotchy dye effects and overdyed jeans in pink/brown and blue/green combinations are trending, she added. Meanwhile, airbrushed patterns and swirls of colors on white denim offer a more polished effect.

DL1961 taps into modern psychedelia with acid wash. The brand offers a cropped pink acid wash jean jacket and matching jean shorts in its spring collection. DL1961 is also betting on denim overalls, fringe and jean shorts in high-rise, boyfriend and wide leg silhouettes. “They’re timeless and one of the most versatile items you can have,” said Ryan Lombard, DL1961’s pr manager and creative producer. “DL’s spin on this classic combines comfort and style, perfect for your Coachella weekend.”

DL1961 DL1961

Levi’s, which tapped influencer Hailey Bieber as the face of its festival  campaign, is feeling shorts, too. Guenzas said the heritage brand expects to see a “variety in how people wear their shorts, from high, tight and micro-short, to slightly longer at the mid-thigh, to slouchy and knee length.”

In terms of finishing, Guenza described endless possibilities for Levi’s 501 shorts, from “’90s stonewash, to vintage-inspired faded and destructed indigos, to worn-in black denim with cut-off hems, high side slits or with customized hits from neon buttons and patches, to bleach splatters and embroidery.”

And the brand has the styles to satisfy every preference, including the new high rise 501 short, the 501 slouch short with a longer length, the Rib Cage cut-off and the Wedgie short for that “nipped in at the waist sexy fit,” she said.