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Magic Trend Recap: Spring 2023 Awash in Barbie Pink, Western Bling

This week’s Magic trade show in Las Vegas suggested that brands are done being cautious about designing for a post-pandemic world.

The loungewear of seasons past seems to have receded from view, replaced by bright hues, unconventional prints and motifs, and trend-forward silhouettes. While brands have been “cautious with the creativity of their collections” over the past two years, Spring 2023 stands to see fashion come back in full force, according to Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion.

“Consumers are asking for it right now,” she said. “When you’re a trend-driven consumer who wears fashion as art, as a way to express yourself, you’re looking for pieces that are dynamic and exciting.” Sweatpants have given way to wide-leg trousers, while lounge sets have morphed into rhinestone-adorned, early-aughts-inspired satin and velour tracksuits. The Barbiecore trend, for one, indicates where fashion is focused.

Hot pink could be found across womenswear collections at Magic.

Pink is everywhere,” Helfman said, noting that many of the season’s trends stem from pop culture. Margot Robbie will star as Barbie in a live-action film slated for release next summer, and the buzz surrounding the project has already trickled down to mass-market retail. Nearly every brand’s collection at Magic featured at least one core item in blazing hot pink, while many showed matching head-to-toe outfits from blazers and trousers to skirt-and-blouse combos, as well as evening attire such as sequined cocktail dresses and slip dresses along with ‘90s-inspired, platform peep-toe heels.

Glamour-infused Western wear was also on display.You see a lot of cowboy hats now being paired with a modern bodysuit and jeans, and Beyonce just came out with her new album, Renaissance, which had a whole Urban Cowboy costume design,” Helfman said. The trend showed up in apparel, footwear and accessories, in products from fringed suede jackets and vests, crystal-encrusted hats to blinged-out denim jackets, and metallic, bejeweled cowboy boots.

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Colorful, metallic cowboy boots were pervasive across collections.

With Covid travel restrictions lifting across the globe, consumers planning new adventures are influencing spring styling, Helfman said. “Whatever is trending on Airbnb is really affecting fashion,” she added, noting that trend forecasters have been mining travel sites for insight into where shoppers plan to vacation—and what they’re likely to wear.

“People are going to the Amalfi Coast, they’re going to Palm Springs,” she said, and that’s prompting a resurgence of resort wear, matching sets, palm tree prints and beachy motifs. Chunky platform sandals and pillow-like EVA slides rounded out the vacation-ready looks.

Travel-inspired ensembles with loose fits and invigorating palettes were a staple of the show.

Spring’s standard ditsy florals were replaced with funky, eye-catching motifs. Painterly patterns, text-heavy collage prints, abstracted takes on flowers and palm fronds, and ‘70s-inspired swirls and color-blocking were present across dresses, blouses jumpsuits and matching sets.

Abstract, graphic prints in bright colors were a counterpoint to previous seasons.

“Everybody’s at their own place in these trends,” Helfman said, noting that the prospect of buying into a Barbie-pink assortment or glitzy cowboy boots might feel “overwhelming” to some retailers. Accessories and separates are accessible options for shoppers looking for a wardrobe refresh, not a total revamp, she said.

Helfman credited the vibrance of Spring 2023 collections to industry creatives who welcome the return of fashion. “Coming out of the pandemic, you’re seeing see more clothing lines, more entrepreneurs starting businesses, more women’s empowerment, joyful messaging, and this art-driven approach to collections,” she said. “What they’ve been working on is now starting to come to life.”