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Fashion is Dialing It Back to Prehistoric Times for Spring/Summer 2020

Fashion always looks at the past to find inspiration for the future.

However, one of Fashion Snoops visionary trends for Spring/Summer 2020 fashion, beauty and home isn’t your typical throwback trend.

Rather, Genesis re-examines prehistoric times and ancient civilizations.

At Fashion Snoops’ Trend Immersion Day in New York City Monday, the trend forecasting firm’s editors came together to share how primitive aesthetics, fossilized textures and a renewed focus on invention and exploration is spawning the 2020 trend.

Genesis, said Michael Fisher, Fashion Snoops vice president of men’s wear, is sparked by the numerous excavation sites that are taking place around the world from London to New Mexico and are “unlocking treasure hidden below.”

The trend embraces modern minimalism and ancient antiquities.

Defined by a “prehistoric steampunk vibe,” Fisher said Genesis invites designers to balance native patterns and loom craftwork with exoskeleton-inspired designs and sustainable and ethically-sourced materials.

Here’s a closer look at how Genesis will influence trends in the beauty, home and fashion categories.


In beauty, Genesis is told through the lens of the Middle East and North Africa, or the MENA region, Melissa Hago, Fashion Snoops’ vice president of beauty, said.

Ancient calligraphy translates into bold eye liner. Morocco’s famous blue cities inspire hair color and eye shadow. And after seasons of high gloss, Hago sees matte finishes, minerals and texture return as a nod to the region’s natural and dry lands.

Brands’ intrigue surrounding ancient rituals trickles down to the ingredients. Moringa, black seed oil, volcanic particles, moss, fern and honey are among the components to watch. For fragrance, Hago said the trend calls for complex recipes with notes of amber, leather and incense.

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Muslim beauty products like sweat-resistant makeup is also gaining traction, Hago said, as companies embrace inclusivity and discover new pockets of opportunity.


In home, think primitive chic. The trend speaks to basics redone in sustainable ways, even if it means imperfections.

Soft goods are raw, simple and softened by brushed and napped processes. Naturally occurring dyes like turmeric and beetroot are used. Cotton and lightweight woolen yarns add a dry texture. Canvas is used for durability. However, Jaye Mize, vice president of creative for Fashion Snoops’ home interiors and design segment, pointed out that the fabrics are laundered for extra softness and malleability.

Hard goods take on fossil forms, organic curves and chiseled edges. Designers mix smooth textures with porous surfaces. Mize added that 3-D printing has the most opportunity in Genesis, as home accessories with primitive shapes.


Delicate deconstruction, Grecian draping, reworked utility and prototype detailing are hallmarks of Genesis in women’s wear. Garments have an unfinished feel that Fashion Snoops co-founder and president Lilly Berelovich said is simultaneously feminine and rugged.

“We envision this woman being exploratory. She’s an inventor,” she added.

Tops take shape with delicate cage-like details on the back, wrap silhouettes with goddess draping, exaggerated sleeves and multi-pocket work shirts made with earthy tonal material mixing. Wide-leg trousers with a cinched waist, the “puritan pencil skirt” and “prototype” denim—deconstructed jeans that look like a work in progress—balance the voluminous tops.

Marni REX/Shutterstock

Liquid gold inspires slinky, draped dresses. The “exploration dress” with ombre dye effects offers comfort with large gathered pleats and pockets. Boning is revealed through transparent fabrics. Tailoring is softened by sheer pieces and relaxed silhouettes. The “soft form” coat is made with flimsy fabrics and soft structured sleeves.

For activewear, Berelovich said the trend comes to life with transparent materials, compression base layers and hybrid utility items like hoodies.

Key footwear items include woven sandals with raw finishes, minimalist gladiator sandals and statement pumps with heels that mimic the look of volcanic rock. Handbags made with irregular beads, jewelry inspired by ammonite fossils and coin motifs capture the trend’s focus on ancient found objects.


Genesis for men means armor-like garments, reworked utility and ancient leisure dressing, Fisher reported. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to hide utility, so now we’re putting it front and center,” he said.

Tops are based on “quiet, minimal design” and precise color blocking. Base layers like tanks are shrunken and become a key item as menswear embraces sheer shirting.

For “rugged authenticity,” Fisher said items like multi-pocket functional carpenter jeans with a broken-in fade is key. Casual shorts feature reflective elements. Others equipped with extra-large patch pockets.

Junya Watanabe
Junya Watanabe WWD/REX/Shutterstock

Cargo vests with 3-D patch pockets, convertible designs and transparent, gel-like, rubber jackets add dimension. The bomber jacket is updated with refined elements and feminine colors like mauve and blush.

For tailoring, Genesis calls for elevated, relaxed boiler suits made with lustrous fabrics, suiting with contrast piping and suits cinched with belts. Oversized, floor sweeping bottoms and pants with drawstrings add a relaxed leisure feel.

Activewear delivers utility with shell cargo pants that can be cinched and worn as shorts and ventilated jerseys with half-zip constructions. Graphene fabrics provide performance attributes like thermal conductivity.

The slip-on high-top made with leather and knit piecework is a must-have kick for men. Cross-body bags are also important, especially for the young men’s category, Fisher noted. Brands and retailers also have opportunity in men’s jewelry, which he said is a growing market. The trend calls for bracelets and necklaces with relic-like charms and coin motifs.


The best way for children’s designers to adopt Genesis is through basics like T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants and casual sets, said Nicole Yee, Fashion Snoops children’s wear director.

Little Creative Factory
Little Creative Factory Giovanni Giannoni

The trend, she added, is defined by relaxed shapes, raw and unfinished hems and soft utility—or items like army jackets and cargo pants made with soft, flexible materials.

Rompers for boys and girls are cropped and play with volume for a looser and comfier fit. Straps are minimal. And fabrics take on a natural, not dyed feel with a crinkly hand feel.