As Philip Fimano of Trend Union shared with us, “trends are pre-existing phenomenons” and this was exactly our task throughout Paris, Antwerp and London.
There are obvious differences between Europe and Australia, and it could be said that weather is the main element.
Coming from an exceptional Melbourne summer to a bitter Europe winter, the first factor that we realised is that it is more challenging to construct an eye-catching outfit outdoors in winter. The people of Paris seem to be much more confident in experimenting with colour and texture. From fur trims to coats made from various hides, it has been an eye opening experience, as these are trends a lot of Australians aren’t game to experiment with themselves.
Following a talk at Studio Edelkoort, a move towards a ‘worn and torn’ aesthetic is expected to be seen in the coming months. We identified a link from this to a move to practicality and sustainability. As a society we are more aware than ever of our impact on the world around us and the consequences our actions have. Talking to on-trend individuals it was interesting to note that many of them were turning to second hand stores to find their clothing. Admittedly you’d be forgiven for thinking the items were new, yet the idea of pre worn is becoming a non issue. This was also highlighted in the amount of second hand shops in Europe and the UK where second hand stores devoted to designer items are quite prevalent, e.g. GoldyMamas Paris, Labels Inc. Antwerp and The Dresser London. Sustainability is an ever increasing issue in the fashion industry that consumers are becoming more conscious and aware of. They are also adapting to the trend of gender fluidity and investing in basic, versatile pieces which is influencing consumers to make more informed quality purchases rather than buying from the mass market.
‘Freedom, mobility and flexibility are the key-words today: the current generation celebrates their independence like no other’ (Groenveld, 2015)
Links can be made between the emergence of gender fluidity and a shift towards dressing for comfort. Being the northern hemisphere’s winter, the majority of dressing we saw was covered by a coat, but even from this we were able to identify a trend of box like, almost shapeless coats. These coats considered warmth and comfort over extravagance and style. Ken Downing, the fashion director of Neiman Marcus stated that “what we’re seeing now is a seismic shift in fashion, a widening acceptance of a style with no boundaries, one that reflects the way young people dress.”. This highlights a move away from gender binary rules and restraints and an acceptance of gender fluidity and comfort. This idea has also been supported by Rebecca Gonsalves in 2015 where she stated that ‘Gender blending: A trend more about comfort than identity’, referring to the most relaxed and comfortable approach to fashion being able to blur the lines between gender dressing.
Something else we repeatedly noticed, especially in London, was people opting for more comfortable and practical footwear choices. Shoe companies have definitely broadened their options the last few years creating ‘sneaker’ style shoes in a wider variety of more stylish options such as leather, different colours, polished and edgier designs. Instead of wearing boots, heels or dress shoes; there is an increasing number of people pairing their work or everyday outfits with sneakers. Whilst chatting to a London based architect, Sarah Martin, she mentioned “The workplace in London is becoming more casual, we are having people show up to meetings in a pair of jeans and sneakers and this is becoming accepted in many workplace situations”. Rob Ferris – head buyer for Harrolds – supports this idea, stating “A lot of people are wearing them with a cotton suit with a t-shirt underneath their jacket, or they’re wearing a smart pair of trousers with a shirt and a knit or a blazer”.We feel that this wide spread acceptance of footwear is yet to occur in Melbourne. From speaking to many people we also learnt that comfort is now a necessity as many people are opting for taking public transport or walking as it is more affordable than driving as London has a daily congestion charge of £11.50 Monday to Friday when driving in main zones. The transport statistics of Great Britain 2015 also show that people working in London have the longest average commute of 45minutes. It also reveals that the average commute for catching a train it 59 minutes and 15 minutes for walking. This further highlights the need people now have for comfort and functionality in their footwear and clothing choices.
At Euston Station we immediately noticed Zain’s style and were interested by his wool coat, which was confidently paired with tailored wool pants, executing a practical, yet trend forward outfit. From speaking to Zain and finding that he was studying law while also working full time, it was obvious that practicality and functionality is a must with his lifestyle. We were impressed to learn that he had made his own shirt because he wasn’t able to find what he wanted anywhere else. This was seamlessly paired with a second hand coat and scarf, demonstrating his savvy approach to assembling outfits.
Shoreditch was identified as a pinnacle area for trend adaptors and innovators. The confidence in dressing was similar to what we see in Melbourne suburbs Brunswick and Fitzroy, with an eclectic yet refined look. From talking to locals it was apparent that Shoreditch is an ‘it’ place currently, with hotspots for fashion including AIDA and The Good Hood, bringing people from all over. Upon a chance meeting we discovered Shoredich has a reputation outside of the UK for it’s style, as a Norwegian watch brand had travelled to shoot there specifically.
In Shoreditch we were able to identify the adaption of the ‘dressy sneaker’ as well as different outfit combinations displaying both comfort and gender fluidity. The common oversized shapless coats we are seeing provide much needed warmth in the cold London climate without conforming to a gender stereotyped shape or silhouette. We found these combinations throughout many different people we met in clothing stores, art shops, cafes and in the back streets which are covered in art.
Whilst accidentally stumbling upon a promotion night hosted by Vogue magazine at the department store Printemps in Pairs, we discovered another pinnacle area for trend adaptors. Department stores always draw in a wide variety of people but we believe that this event was special as it brought a wider demographic being a special event.
At Printemps we met a Parisian woman who was wearing one of her own designs. From talking to her we also found out that she was in the process of beginning her own line, though she was very secretive about further details. Being an all black outfit the photo unfortunately does not do this outfit justice as it is difficult to see. This woman had created a cropped cape, which went over her coat. It created a very interesting layered aesthetic that served the purpose of keeping her warm and protected from the weather but was also very stylish. The all black attire reminded us of the colour trend we commonly see in Melbourne, but it very much stood out and created a statement compared to the way everyone else at the event was dressed. This outfit has taken the layered aesthetic and comfort/functionality trend we have previously identified but adapted it and created something different by the woman’s individual designs and type of layering she has chosen. We believe this woman is definitely an early adapter of trends and will likely be a future trend innovator.
At Printemps we also met a male who displayed a great blend of two of our identified trends comfort and gender fluidity. Adopting the classic branding and comfort of Adidas shoes paired with a relaxed pant and biker style jacket plays on the rejection of gender conformity.
From this investigation we discovered that unlike Melbourne where trend innovators and early adapters are usually found in similar areas, the innovators that we identified in Paris and London were more dispersed and stood out in subtle ways. Their trends and styles were different yet still blended with the general society. The majority of people we found were trend implementers dressed in a comfy yet functional way, which had different levels of mixing with gender fluidity. This is definitely a more accepted trend in London and Paris than Melbourne.
Arthur Groeneveld, ‘BERLIN – a new way of working’, Trend Tablet, <http://www.trendtablet.com/40943-a-new-way-of-working/>
Department for Transport 2015, Transport Statistics Great Britain 2015, viewed Feb 23 <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/489894/tsgb-2015.pdf>
Ferris, R 2016, ‘Luxury sneakers the biggest trend in men’s style’, Executive Style
Gonsalves, R 2015, ‘Gender Blending’, Independant, viewed Feb 23
La Ferla, R 2015, ‘In Fashion, Gender Lines Are Blurring’, New York Times
Pieri, K 2016, THE TOP 7 SHOE TRENDS FROM SPRING 2016, Harpers Bazaar
Rodgers, L 2016, ‘Syria: The story of the conflict’, BBC online, viewed Feb 22
Transport For London 2016, Congestion Charge, viewed Feb 21 <https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge>.