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Greatest trend traits mirror a world in disaster

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Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNN

To look again on the yr in trend is to look again at a yr of disaster. Within the first few months of 2020, because the severity and scale of the coronavirus pandemic grew to become clear, companies world wide confronted incomparable challenges posed by the biggest world public well being disaster in generations. The style trade was not immune.

Making garments grew to become extraordinarily tough, and many people — pressured to remain at house amid job insecurity and well being issues — misplaced our urge for food for purchasing them.

A latest report by consulting agency McKinsey and The Enterprise of Style confirmed that trend gross sales in China dropped considerably initially of the yr, whereas in Europe and the US they fell off a cliff edge in March. The identical report predicted that trend firms’ year-on-year income will decline by roughly 90 p.c for 2020, following a 4% rise the yr earlier than.

However the pandemic wasn’t the one disaster the trade confronted. Whereas the style world was already reckoning with uncomfortable truths about its influence and practices — from its function within the local weather disaster and poor working situations for garment manufacturing unit employees, to its failure to create inclusive, various workplaces — the occasions of 2020 have solely served to additional spotlight these issues.

Instantly, trend needed to discover its place in a world ill-at-ease with the concepts of fantasy, frivolity and indulgence that it has lengthy trusted.

Dita von Teese walks the runway during a Jean Paul Gaultier show in January, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic brought physical fashion shows to a halt around the world.

Dita von Teese walks the runway throughout a Jean Paul Gaultier present in January, shortly earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic introduced bodily trend reveals to a halt world wide. Credit score: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Pictures

For Shefalee Vasudev, founding editor of India’s Voice of Style journal, this yr has heralded “the nice unmasking” of trend. “The unseen different facet of what we carry again house as a gorgeous garment or product was revealed,” she wrote through electronic mail from Delhi. “Migrants strolling again to their properties in villages, disowned as they have been by the cities and their employers, was among the many most poignant pictures that surfaced from India.”

Vasudev, who authored “Powder Room: The Untold Story of Indian Style,” pointed to “poorly paid laborers, unequal income and (lack of) copyright credit to artisans,” as among the most urgent points laid naked by the pandemic in India. In the meantime in the US, after which international locations world wide, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter motion put the problem of systemic racism firmly on the trade’s agenda. Manufacturers awkwardly grappled with how one can reply. Many obtained it mistaken and have been shortly known as out for making token gestures.

A protester holds up a sign during a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the US Embassy in Vienna, Austria on June 5, 2020.

A protester holds up an indication throughout a Black Lives Matter protest in entrance of the US Embassy in Vienna, Austria on June 5, 2020. Credit score: Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Pictures Europe/Getty Pictures

“Plain and easy, I do not suppose there’s the intention behind (on-line gestures) to make long-lasting, sustainable change,” mentioned Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, in an electronic mail to CNN in June. “Everybody can hop onto the BLM motion proper now on social media, however what are you doing in your house, in your company workplace, along with your connections, with the ability you’ve?”

Months later, Wagner launched the Black in Style Council (with publicist Sandrine Charles) to drive higher illustration, advance alternatives for Black individuals in trend and maintain the trade accountable.

Writing from Nigeria, a rustic that skilled its personal set of crises this yr, Omoyemi Akerele, founding father of Lagos Style Week, mentioned together with the coronavirus pandemic, “civil unrest throughout African international locations and the pandemic of racism, have been human disasters of epic proportions with numerous lives misplaced, reminding us of the one thread that binds us all collectively: our humanity.”

To speak about trend traits following a yr outlined by disaster could seem worthless, however the themes that emerged provide a window into these extraordinary instances.

Learn on for one final take a look at trend world wide in 2020.


Face masks grew to become the unmatched accent of the yr. Folks made their very own, manufacturers produced distinctive designs and, nearly in a single day, they grew to become the completion to many outfits.

A face mask by Burberry

A face masks by Burberry Credit score: Courtesy Burberry

Some labels went a step additional by advertising new equipment — and in some circumstances, complete clothes traces — as having antimicrobial properties. Whereas consultants say it’s tough to evaluate whether or not antimicrobial therapies can defend wearers from Covid-19, the idea of protecting trend is itself a defining development. We additionally noticed high-fashion riffs on the concept, together with Kenzo’s fetching beekeeper-inspired seems offered throughout Paris Style Week in September.


Style platform Lyst checked out search information from over 100 million internet buyers and, in its annual report, discovered that Birkenstock clogs, Crocs, UGG slippers and Nike joggers have been among the many yr’s most sought-after objects of clothes.
Anna Wintour shocked the fashion when Vogue posted a photo of her wearing sweatpants to Instagram.

Anna Wintour shocked the style when Vogue posted a photograph of her sporting sweatpants to Instagram. Credit score: From Vogue Journal/Instagram

Reflecting a shift in each actuality and mindset, loungewear changed workplace apparel, and floaty “home clothes” — comfy sufficient to take you from house workplace to daybed — rose in reputation. The time period “cottagecore,” an web development encapsulating the spirit of cozy, rustic dwelling, generated large buzz as TikTok customers confirmed off their makes an attempt to channel the aesthetic at house.

Popular culture, after all, helped underscore these traits. BTS’ music video for “Life Goes On” confirmed the boyband in matching pajamas, taking part in video video games and staring wistfully out of home windows. Oh, to be a younger, wealthy, self-isolating idol.

From Massive Hit Labels/YouTube


Assertion-wear took on a wholly new that means in 2020. From protest T-shirts in help of the Black Lives Matter motion to political merchandise within the lead as much as the US election, individuals dressed to not impress, however to convey highly effective messages.

A protestor wears a T-shirt reading "I can't breathe" during a Black Lives Matter rally in Marseille, France.

A protestor wears a T-shirt studying “I am unable to breathe” throughout a Black Lives Matter rally in Marseille, France. Credit score: Clement Mahoude/AFP/Getty Pictures

Based on Lyst information, searches for phrases together with “vote” have been up 29% week-on-week within the US the month earlier than the presidential election. And when When Michelle Obama wore her now well-known “VOTE” necklace, designed by Chari Cuthbert, demand for the merchandise skyrocketed.

Pre-election, Instagram was awash with celebrities posting selfies in sizzling pink energy fits due to a marketing campaign launched by workwear model Argent and advocacy group Supermajority, encouraging ladies to train their voting energy and additional bolstering the ability of pink to sign power and feminine solidarity.

Whether or not intentional or not, Savannah Guthrie’s alternative of pink go well with (not by Argent) to interview President Trump in the course of the NBC city corridor didn’t go unnoticed.
Savannah Guthrie pictured during an NBC News town hall event in October 2020.

Savannah Guthrie pictured throughout an NBC Information city corridor occasion in October 2020. Credit score: Evan Vucci/AP

Acutely aware

Rising demand for native, handmade, sustainable clothes is not a brand new development. However the pandemic noticed an increase in values-driven purchasing, reflecting a shift in mindset amongst extra prudent spenders, who, maybe, additionally had extra time to consider the manufacturers they lent their loyalty to.

In a report issued in April, Lyst famous a 69% improve in searches for “vegan leather-based,” year-on-year.

In Nigeria, Akerele mentioned that sourcing supplies internationally grew to become difficult, so designers and the broader group have been incentivized to construct extra vertically built-in companies. This, she mentioned, decreased the trade’s carbon footprint: “It is helped scale back waste within the system in a approach that solely sourcing regionally on demand can; and empowered our group of artisans, craftsmen and native provide chains by producing earnings for them within the midst of inflation.”

Vasudev mentioned that, in India, she observed two shifts in habits, each benefiting native artisans: “One was the overwhelming response to artisans promoting instantly on-line (aided after all by NGOs and crafts collectives). Two, plenty of artisan funds and charities went up,” she mentioned. “Indian shoppers went out of their solution to help the ‘karigars’ (artisans). By shopping for, donating, by prioritizing Made in India.”


From Shanghai to London, trend weeks all year long went digital to current new collections safely. Throughout London Style Week in September, Burberry streamed its present — filmed stay within the woods — on Twitch, a social media platform extra fashionable with players than fashionistas. Later that month in Milan, Moschino artistic director Jeremy Scott swapped fashions for marionettes, cleverly presenting a micro-sized model of his assortment in a video that embraced the absurdity of the second.

Designer phases present with puppets

Months earlier than in Could, Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba, founding father of the label Hanifa, streamed a mesmerizing 3D assortment of her newest designs on invisible fashions. The modern concept went viral, racking up thousands and thousands of views on Instagram.

Whereas e-commerce has been rising in reputation for years, the luxurious trend sector has, traditionally, been sluggish to embrace its digital future. The trade’s widespread gripes are concerning the lack of the bodily luxurious experiences like strolling right into a superbly designed retailer, flipping by way of the pages of a shiny journal or attending unique trend reveals.

Whereas these attitudes have been slowly altering earlier than the pandemic, this yr has drastically accelerated the shift to on-line. Based on the aforementioned McKinsey report, we have now “vaulted 5 years ahead in client and enterprise adoption of digital in a matter of months.”

Grégory Boutté, chief consumer and digital officer for Kering (which owns Gucci and Saint Laurent, amongst different manufacturers), spoke to the Enterprise of Style in December, telling the title: “Our e-commerce income in the course of the first half of 2020 went from 6 p.c to 13 p.c of general retail revenues year-over-year. In North America we have been as excessive as 26 p.c e-commerce — so already forward of the 20 p.c McKinsey anticipated for 2025.” He famous that he expects these positive aspects to normalize, given these numbers mirror the truth that the companies brick-and-mortar shops have been closed for big elements of the yr, leaving consumers with no choice however to buy on-line.

The long run

Style’s restoration from the pandemic is about to be sluggish, with consultants predicting a tough yr forward for companies. Developments seen throughout a yr outlined by disaster won’t be left at 2021’s door, they usually might completely change the form of the trade.

A few of these adjustments are constructive and, in terms of questions of inclusion and sustainability, lengthy overdue. This yr might have additionally accelerated trend’s compulsion to look forward in quest of a brighter future. That is, in spite of everything, an trade stuffed with dreamers.

Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2021 collection presented in Shanghai

Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer time 2021 assortment offered in Shanghai Credit score: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Bohan Qiu, founding father of Shanghai-based artistic and communication company Boh Undertaking, mentioned he can already see extra exuberant trend shows rising in China because the nation returns to some semblance of normalcy. “I really feel like persons are truly going extra vibrant, extra experimental, extra fascinating moderately than going extra conservative,” he mentioned through voice message. “And you may actually see on the streets or at events or at occasions in China, or at purchasing malls, all of the manufacturers are displaying actually colourful patterns, prints and elaborations. I really feel like that is actually coming again, it is like we’re celebrating.”


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