And the 2013 trend is... nothing!

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iol lif jan 16 sa trends rachel zoe

AP

A model wears a design from the Rachel Zoe Spring 2013 collection. Labels are offering myriad options for next season, so women can do away with definitive trends and make a look their own. Picture: Kathy Willens / AP

The biggest trend in fashion for 2013 might just be that there isn’t anything especially trendy.

Based on runway and retailer previews, the must-have look in 2013 could be menswear-inspired and tailored, or ladylike chic. Colours are bold and bright, or graphic black and white; fabrics are slinky and silky, or textured and tough.

And pick your silhouette: There are both short sexy minis and long flowing maxis to be had. Check off dressed-up shorts, jumpsuits and slinky mermaid gowns.

It was largely the same story for autumn 2012 – and in spring before that. And in 2011 too.

“The problem with trends is that we are trended out… We are so exhausted by overload that we just don’t have a way to process anything new,” says trend analyst Marian Salzman, CEO of ad agency Havas PR North America.

Remember the days when a new fashion season meant a new must-have and a corresponding closet purge? Out with boy-cut jeans, in with skinnies. Out with skinnies, in with bellbottoms.

iol lif jan 16 sa trends Monique Lhuillier

Whether youre a Monique Lhuillier ballgown girl, as shown by a model at New York Fashion Week, or a tailored Carolina Herrera city shorts type, there are no wrong moves when it comes to evening wear. Picture: Diane Bondareff / AP

AP

Years ago, there was often a single muse who dominated the season. If she were a bohemian free spirit in the spring, she might be a tough biker chick in the autumn. It seemed as if every designer was courting her at the same time.

Now the models on one catwalk seem like they were dressed personally by the designer from his or her singular point of view.

Looks aren’t stagnant, and you can see tastes evolving – right now there certainly is movement towards sophisticated, grown-up clothes in rich jewel tones and sultry touches – but there isn’t a feeling that it’s being done frenetically.

One style might be more in than another, but nothing is quite out.

“When I started in this industry over 20 years ago, we’d be on the plane after the shows and talking about the trends of next season,” says Elle creative director Joe Zee.

“We really lived in the bubble. You could say: ‘It’s all about the miniskirt,’ and immediately you’d hear: ‘Oh, well, there’s nothing for me.’ Now I can say it’s all about the 1960s and miniskirts again, but there are still a lot of palazzo pants, and jeans, and everything else, so you’ll find something.”

Do a search for high-waisted bellbottoms on any given day, and you’ll find a million pairs out there – and that’s a season when they weren’t deemed “trendy”, says Zee, who also is curator for the online shopping destination Vente-Privee.

Of course, the internet has played a huge role in this. Shoppers see new styles more or less at the same time as the retailers and editors sitting in the front row, so fashion has become more democratised.

There’s still a role for insiders, but it’s more as style interpreters instead of final arbiters.

Stores have a much bigger selling space with their websites, so they don’t have to choose between the wide-leg pants or the skinny ones. And consumers don’t have to wait for the big deliveries a few times a year. There’s always a rolling supply of new items – and things headed for clearance racks.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for fashion.

It was a stretch for a designer long respected for career clothes to tout hot pants. The same could be said for the wunderkind doing embellished ballskirts. Now they don’t have to. This allows for more creativity, not less.

No one has to look alike. No one has to squeeze into an unflattering must-have item just because a few fashion insiders deemed it a must-have.

After years of the industry preaching personal style, it seems it’s taking its own advice, and designers seem more concerned with carving out their own look – and gaining fans of it – than jumping on an inauthentic trend.

Women can approach fashion as if they have options, Zee says. Take colour blocking, for example.

“I’ve said that’s a ‘trend’ for five seasons. This season I’ll say it’s black and white, and maybe last year I said it was red and pink, but the look hangs out, has a longer life, and that gives you a broader sense of style,” Zee says.

When tastemakers began touting “personal style”, Zee says he’s not fully sure they meant it. But say something often enough, and people start believing it.

“In the moment maybe it was a marketing ploy,” he says, “but then came Sex and the City which I think was a tent pole of personal style – and then the internet and the popularity of street style, and now I think women are saying: ‘I’m going to do what I like to do.’”

There’s also the importance of value in fashion now, and there’s not just a dollar sign attached to that. Quality, heritage and integrity are factors.

Salzman says consumers have developed a mindset that will focus on a bigger picture than one snapped at the end of a catwalk, as the year progresses. “We’re going to spend more time thinking about what it means to buy something, and we’re much more engaged about what our clothing says as our signature,” she says. – Sapa-AP


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