2020’s greatest trend developments mirror a world in disaster

Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNN

To look again on the 12 months in trend is to look again at a 12 months of disaster. Within the first few months of 2020, because the severity and scale of the coronavirus pandemic grew to become clear, companies around the globe confronted incomparable challenges posed by the most important international public well being disaster in generations. The style trade was not immune.

Making garments grew to become extraordinarily troublesome, and many people — pressured to remain at residence amid job insecurity and well being considerations — misplaced our urge for food for getting them.

A latest report by consulting agency McKinsey and The Enterprise of Style confirmed that trend gross sales in China dropped considerably originally of the 12 months, whereas in Europe and the US they fell off a cliff edge in March. The identical report predicted that trend corporations’ year-on-year earnings will decline by roughly 90 p.c for 2020, following a four% rise the 12 months 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 impression and practices — from its function within the local weather disaster and poor working situations for garment manufacturing unit staff, to its failure to create inclusive, numerous workplaces — the occasions of 2020 have solely served to additional spotlight these issues.

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

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 exhibits to a halt around the globe. Credit score: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Photos

For Shefalee Vasudev, founding editor of India’s Voice of Style journal, this 12 months has heralded “the good unmasking” of trend. “The unseen different aspect of what we carry again residence as a gorgeous garment or product was revealed,” she wrote through e-mail from Delhi. “Migrants strolling again to their properties in villages, disowned as they had been by the cities and their employers, was among the many most poignant photos that surfaced from India.”

Vasudev, who authored “Powder Room: The Untold Story of Indian Style,” pointed to “poorly paid laborers, unequal earnings and (lack of) copyright credit to artisans,” as a few of the most urgent points laid naked by the pandemic in India. In the meantime in the USA, after which nations around the globe, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter motion put the problem of systemic racism firmly on the trade’s agenda. Manufacturers awkwardly grappled with the right way to reply. Many received it improper and had been rapidly referred to 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 Photos Europe/Getty Photos

“Plain and easy, I do not suppose there’s the intention behind (on-line gestures) to make long-lasting, sustainable change,” stated Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, in an e-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 facility you might have?”

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 12 months, Omoyemi Akerele, founding father of Lagos Style Week, stated together with the coronavirus pandemic, “civil unrest throughout African nations 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 developments following a 12 months outlined by disaster could appear worthless, however the themes that emerged provide a window into these extraordinary instances.

Learn on for one final have a look at trend around the globe in 2020.


Face masks grew to become the unequalled accent of the 12 months. Individuals made their very own, manufacturers produced distinctive designs and, nearly in a single day, they grew to become the crowning glory 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 instances, whole clothes traces — as having antimicrobial properties. Whereas consultants say it’s troublesome to evaluate whether or not antimicrobial remedies can shield 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 to be offered throughout Paris Style Week in September.


Style platform Lyst checked out search information from over 100 million web shoppers and, in its annual report, discovered that Birkenstock clogs, Crocs, UGG slippers and Nike joggers had been among the many 12 months’s most sought-after gadgets 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 carrying 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 residence workplace to daybed — rose in reputation. The time period “cottagecore,” an web development encapsulating the spirit of cozy, rustic residing, generated enormous buzz as TikTok customers confirmed off their makes an attempt to channel the aesthetic at residence.

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

From Huge Hit Labels/YouTube


Assertion-wear took on a completely new that means in 2020. From protest T-shirts in assist 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 can not breathe” throughout a Black Lives Matter rally in Marseille, France. Credit score: Clement Mahoude/AFP/Getty Photos

In accordance with Lyst information, searches for phrases together with “vote” had 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 because of a marketing campaign launched by workwear model Argent and advocacy group Supermajority, encouraging ladies to train their voting energy and additional bolstering the facility of pink to sign energy 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 procuring, 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% enhance in searches for “vegan leather-based,” year-on-year.

In Nigeria, Akerele stated that sourcing supplies internationally grew to become difficult, so designers and the broader group had been incentivized to construct extra vertically built-in companies. This, she stated, lowered the trade’s carbon footprint: “It is helped scale back waste within the system in a means 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 stated that, in India, she seen 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 stated. “Indian customers went out of their approach to assist 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 reside within the woods — on Twitch, a social media platform extra in style with avid gamers than fashionistas. Later that month in Milan, Moschino inventive 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 levels present with puppets

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

Whereas e-commerce has been rising in reputation for years, the luxurious trend sector has, traditionally, been gradual 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 the pages of a shiny journal or attending unique trend exhibits.

Whereas these attitudes had been slowly altering earlier than the pandemic, this 12 months has drastically accelerated the shift to on-line. In accordance with the aforementioned McKinsey report, we now have “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 total retail revenues year-over-year. In North America we had 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 factors to normalize, given these numbers mirror the truth that the companies brick-and-mortar shops had been closed for giant components of the 12 months, leaving consumers with no possibility however to buy on-line.

The longer term

Style’s restoration from the pandemic is ready to be gradual, with consultants predicting a troublesome 12 months forward for companies. Traits seen throughout a 12 months outlined by disaster is not going to be left at 2021’s door, and so they could completely change the form of the trade.

A few of these modifications are optimistic and, on the subject of questions of inclusion and sustainability, lengthy overdue. This 12 months could have additionally accelerated trend’s compulsion to look forward seeking a brighter future. That is, in any case, an trade full of 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 inventive and communication company Boh Challenge, stated he can already see extra exuberant trend shows rising in China because the nation returns to some semblance of normalcy. “I really feel like individuals are truly going extra vibrant, extra experimental, extra attention-grabbing moderately than going extra conservative,” he stated through voice message. “And you may actually see on the streets or at events or at occasions in China, or at procuring malls, all of the manufacturers are displaying actually colourful patterns, prints and gildings. I really feel like that is actually coming again, it is like we’re celebrating.”

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