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Project, Magic Trends Replete with Retro References

An array of disparate trends were on display at the Magic and Project trade shows in Las Vegas on Monday. Some sought to elicit optimism in a post-Covid era still plagued with uncertainty, while others reached into the past for a sense of comfort and security. Bright hues, punchy patterns and bold silhouettes spread from wall to wall.

Viva Magenta 18

Suiting by Joseph Ribkoff.
Suiting by Joseph Ribkoff. Kate Nishimura / Sourcing Journal

Brands understood the assignment when it came to incorporating Pantone’s Color of the Year into their fall palettes. Vibrating with “vim and vigor,” the red-meets-purple hue is “expressive of a new signal of strength,” the color authority said of its 2023 pick. The rich, saturated shade played across everything from outerwear to suiting, dresses and layering pieces. A deeper shade than last year’s Barbie-core inspired tone, Viva Magenta served as an essential pop of color in many lines, remaining sophisticated for workwear and social engagements.   

Maxi dresses in boho prints

Maxi dress by Flying Tomato.
Maxi dress by Flying Tomato. Kate Nishimura / Sourcing Journal

“The maxi is huge,” from billowy dresses to skirts in satin finishes and lightweight, gauzy fabrics like linen and cellulosics, according to Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion. Velour burnouts, stitching, paisley and floral patterns prevailed in earth tones and leafy greens reminiscent of nature. Referring to the trend as “Angelic Ease,” trend forecasting and consumer insight firm Fashion Snoops said the consumer is gravitating to “free-flowing materials in drape-like weights.” Helfman says the craze is the result of an amalgamation of influences, from a cultural obsession with “van life” and weekend adventuring to Western wear and ‘70s styling.

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Textured knits

Waffle-knit henleys by Project Social T.
Waffle-knit henleys by Project Social T. Kate Nishimura / Sourcing Journal

From ribbed knits to waffle knits, cotton slubs and terry cloth, textured knitwear was on full display across women’s casual apparel. Henley-style tops echoed the continued influence of ‘90s nostalgia, along with terry-cloth short-and-top sets. Textures were emphasized by mineral washes, vintage fading and rough hems. “People are really going after essentials more,” Helfman said, including “T-shirts, comfy sweaters and cashmere in neutral colors that they can wear with denim.” Shifting macroeconomic conditions and consumer attitudes about spending are driving up the popularity of wardrobe staples, she added, “so although trends are coming and going so much quicker today,” buyers are interested in keeping shelves stocked with evergreen base layers.


Silver lame ensemble with rhinestone net tank.
Silver lame ensemble with rhinestone net tank. Kate Nishimura / Sourcing Journal

The 2000s are the latest era subject to a renaissance, with the return of cargo pants, shorts and skirts, bold graphic T-shirts, shiny lame, denim on denim, crystal-embellished net dresses and tops and bright, vibrant hues. There’s “novelty in nostalgia,” according to Fashion Snoops, noting that a new generation is gravitating to silhouettes and motifs now one to two decades old. Why are shoppers reaching to recycle such recent trends? “The consumer [is] so demanding now because of influencers, social media, digital and technology,” Helfman said. These influences have sped up the fashion trend cycle, driving a constant hunger for newness.

50 years of hip-hop

Varsity-style jacket by Midpoint.
Varsity-style jacket by Midpoint. Kate Nishimura / Sourcing Journal

Five decades from hip-hop’s debut, its influence on styling is still in full swing. Streetwear ruled the Project showroom floor, replete with motifs and styling from hip hop’s golden era. “I think that whole genre of music, and the time in the 90s and early 2000s, is just still so influential on fashion,” Helfman said, noting that varsity letter jackets in leather and felted wool are “so big” in the fall season offering.

Men’s lifestyle label Midpoint showcased wide-leg cargo pants, leather letterman jackets and nylon tracksuits. Founder and designer De’Vaun Robinson told Sourcing Journal that the line was “inspired by growing up in the ‘90s” in his hometown of Los Angeles, listening to local artists like N.W.A.—a group well known for memorable jackets. Midpoint’s cargo pants feature large, identical zippered pockets on both the front and back, creating an illusion that the pants are being worn backwards. It’s a nod to hip-hop duo Kriss Kross’s Cross Colors brand pants. “They used to wear their clothes backwards,” Robinson said. “I intentionally made a silhouette where you can’t tell if it’s the front or the back—the drawstring is the only reference, there’s symmetry on both sides.”