It always amazes me how – apart from the tired references to lipstick economies and hemline indexes – trends in fashion are rarely considered in the frame of consumer psychology and economics.
Fashion trends – small and large – indicate a shift in consumer mindset that actually has very little to do with clothes but rather, indicative of the political, social and economic landscape their wearers are experiencing. When we talk about ‘reactive’ fashion these days, it’s typically in relation to the hotly debated two-week stock turnaround models born out of Zara and H&M. But the reality is that fashion has always been ‘reactionary’ at its core – just maybe not quite so fast!
Case in point, London Fashion Week 2017 has delivered a very interesting overarching trend across the board from couture to ready-to-wear. The designers are rebelling! And ironically, the ‘designer’ lifestyle perpetuated by social media.
Across the catwalks, high-end brands have done a collective 180* against the #instaperfect woman – bringing fashion back to ‘real life’ (well as real as couture is going to get anyway). As a planner, I believe this trend is both really exciting and here to stay (think ‘skinny jean’ trend longevity, if you’re looking for a timeline).
So, why is it exciting?
Well, it hints towards a full-blown mutiny against accepted #lifegoals that has now become utterly boring and commonplace fodder across social media – particularly Instagram. Once the rebels of fashion week themselves, street style and ‘influencer’ fashion have become – as Bill Cunningham put it – the epitome of ‘cookie cutter’ sameness (see feature image and you’ll know exactly what I mean). Whether it’s cream silhouettes, big hats, Starbucks and sunglasses, or the ‘edgier’ designer tracksuits and 90s style accessories, the true kings and queens of fashion have decided it’s time for a shakeup.
Fashion was never supposed to be beautiful – it was always only needed to be about self-expression. So fashion brands are taking the social media filter off looks for 2018 – celebrating the mundane, the quirky and the downright ugly. Things are finally interesting again…
Out: Think Kim Kardashian meets vegan lifestyle #influencer.
Contouring, high maintenance shellac nails, blogger hats (shudder), big shades, bare legs, skinny jeans, ‘boyfriend’ anything, delicate jewelry, classic heels, wavy extension hair, ‘cute’ tattoos, complimentary colour palettes, indie music and hashtagging in general.
In: Think, Kate Moss meets Grayson Perry (both Perry’s)
Bare face minimal makeup, bold eyeshadows and heavy eyeliner, short nails dipped in DIY glitter, socks with chunky sandals, kebab shops (thank you Anya Hindmarch), Burberry check caps (yes, really) and 90’s rave rain hats, deep house, messy plaits, chunky 80s mismatching jewellery, loud clashing patterns, long skirts and a bit of creative originality over trying so desperately to reach #instafame.
And why should brands and marketers take notice?
Identity is created through the use of markers and symbols such as language, choice of living space/office space/interiors, behavior and of course dress. In order for identities to ‘work’, we must (for the most part) have a collective understanding of their meaning. Markers – such as changes in fashion or differentiation between our modern cultural ‘tribes’ – help to create boundaries that unconsciously point out the similarities or differences between groups of people.
These groups can be separated by things like social class, cultural boundaries, personal values or simply, time. To put it another way, they give us a ‘them’ vs. ‘us’ and indicate a lot about what a person is ‘like’ and what they value, vs. what went before.
So if London Fashion Week is anything to go by, we are about to see a serious shift in consumer values, style, influencers, online behavior and communications.
Not that that’s going to convince me to wear a Burberry cap any time soon though…