Trending, changing, evolving. The fashion industry is in constant flux. Styles come and go, some so quickly no one noticed they were there to begin with. As “Project Runway” Host Heidi Klum has said: “One day you’re in. The next day you’re out.” Yet, some trends do stick around for more than a season. Take, for instance, so-called ugly fashion and the continuing popularity of things like Crocs and tourist sandals.
What gives them staying power, especially in an industry known for fast turnaround? Fashion marketers, predictors and researchers have tried to figure that out for years. As 2019 drew to a close—a year in which climate change and sustainability were once again driving forces (as they should be)—it seemed fashion houses were embracing and reflecting a desire for newer, better ways of doing things with the three, sticky trends listed here linked to more than just style.
They reflect a mindset, an aesthetic, a movement.
Ultimate Ugly? Crocs’ New Popularity
In a 2009 report for “CNN Money,” Jessica Dickler postulated that the Crocs brand was unlikely to outlast its “chunky … durable” plastic clogs. Ten years later, the supposedly ill-fated shoes seem a perfect fit for one of the six favorite ugly fashion trends touted by “CNN Underscored:” utilitarian footwear.
Two big reasons for the brand’s recent turnaround, Molly Wood and Maria Hollenhorst for Minnesota Public Radio’s “Marketplace” noted, were brand collaborations and individualism. Crocs paired with celebs, like Post Malone and Vivienne Tam, who wore and featured the shoes. Too, it rolled out Jibbitz charms (more accurately: pins) which attach to the clogs’ vent holes and declared: “Our shoes are your canvas!”
Ludovica Cesareo, assistant professor of marketing at Lehigh University, researches psychological influence on consumer buys. In a joint study focused on “ugly” in the luxury category, she and her colleagues concluded “that perceptions of fashion-forwardness—of being in the know—can outweigh aesthetics.” In cases of profound memorability, that is. The products must be “horrifically, unforgettably ugly.”
Crocs, not a luxury brand at all, managed to tap into the notion of wearers being “in the know” and on the forefront, unconfined by society’s interpretation of aesthetic beauty.
Make Do, Mend: Upcycling for All
In a “Vogue Runway” recap of nine Spring 2020 fashion trends, Steff Yotka wrote that mends, repairs and alterations were a recurring theme among designers. She explained: “Humanity cannot afford to shift its dressing habits month after month (and) ignore the environmental impact of our clothes (or) do anything but build lasting wardrobes of clothing to love and wear year after year.”
Yotka lauded Sarah Burton, at Alexander McQueen, for presenting a show filled with creations made using “upcycled scraps of fabric from old collections.” So did Mario Abad at “Paper,” adding that Burton even “recycled old patterns” from McQueen collections of yore.
In August 2019, Everpress noted that independent designers and brands were fabricating collections filled with recycled materials and opting for sustainable manufacturing. That summer another e-commerce platform, Nosto, published consumer survey results showing that sustainability is top of mind:
• 75% want less packaging
• 74% favor fair pay/conditions
• 73% want renewables/recyclables
• 71% crave clothes designed to last
• 64% want resources used responsibly
Slow Factory is a design lab that researches and assists with sustainable operation. Fashion Revolution is a collective of various fashion industry folks. They and others have been at the forefront of the slow fashion movement; one described by Leigh Weingus, in a “Parade” pop culture blog, as exploding on Instagram and being “all about passing up of-the-moment items that you’ll be sick of by next season in favor of ethically-, sustainably-made items you’ll keep for years to come.”
Add in a vibrant DIY movement and upcycling/recycling are destined to last.
Get a Jump on Workwear
Fashionista.com coverage of September’s N.Y. Fashion Week proved that jumpsuits were everywhere. No wonder! Highly versatile, they can be dressed up with jewelry and stilettos or dressed down with Doc Martens. Typically a super comfy fit with no waistband digging in, several brands and designers have retooled their own versions.
But has there been more to this whole jumpsuit frenzy than easy wear suggests? The Rational Dress Society seems to think so. Co-founded by Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Maura Brewer, the counter-fashion collective has been producing what it calls “an ungendered, multi-use monogarment to replace all clothes in perpetuity.”
By that they meant, of course, the jumpsuit. The society has endeavored to shift the human relationship to clothing and consumption by asking: “What if you never had to pick out an outfit again?”
No, really. What if?
Source List: final version (run online, URLs embedded)
Abad, Mario. “Alexander McQueen Delivered a Powerful Show on Community” (Oct. 2, 2019, Fashion Month). PaperMag.com.
Bard Graduate Center. “The Rational Dress Society Presents a History of Counter-Fashion” (September 2019, Events). BGC.Bard.edu.
Blake Thompson, Rebecca. “2019 Sustainable Fashion Trends” (Feb. 11, 2019, News). Remake.world.
Dickler, Jessica. “Crocs Lose Their Footing” (July 17, 2009). Money.CNN.com
Everpress: The Block. “7 Sustainable Fashion Brands You Should Know in 2019” (September 2019, Inspiration). Everpress.com.
Fashion Revolution Foundation. “About.” FashionRevolution.org.
Fashionista: Fashion Week. “Jumpsuits Were a Street Style Must-Have on Day 5 of New York Fashion Week” (Sept. 11, 2019). Fashionista.com
Jibbitz (Charms). Crocs.com
Laplaca, Anna. “5 ‘Ugly’ Spring Fashion Trends Quickly Coming into Favor” (Feb. 27, 2019, Spring Fashion). WhoWhatWear.com.
Make America Rational Again. “What if You Never Had to Pick Out an Outfit Again?” (Rational Dress Society). Jumpsu.it.
Maura Brewer (Information). MauraBrewer.com.
Nosto. “Consumer Survey: Sustainability in Fashion Retail” (2019). Nosto.com.
Phillips, Kami. “‘Ugly’ Fashion Is Here to Stay: 6 of Our Favorite Trends” (Sept. 12, 2019, Underscored). CNN.com.
Radke, Heather. “The Jumpsuit That Will Replace All Clothes Forever” (Mar. 21, 2018, Arts & Culture). TheParisReview.com.
Slow Factory. “Support Sustainability Literacy.” SlowFactory.global.
Weingus, Leigh. “What Is the ‘Slow Fashion’ Movement Everyone’s Hashtagging on Instagram?” (Sept. 24, 2019, Pop Culture). Parade.com.
White, Amy. “Ugly Fashion Is In” (Nov. 7, 2019, News). Lehigh.edu
Wood, Molly & Maria Hollenhorst. “Crocs, Yes Crocs, Are Cool Again” (Nov. 29, 2019, Minnesota Public Radio). Marketplace.org.
Yotka, Steff. “The 9 Most Important Trends from the Spring 2020 Season” (Oct. 8, 2019, Runway). Vogue.com
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