With its use of silky brown leather and prevalent cocoa coloring, Bottega Veneta's Fall/Winter 2021 collection was a chocolatier's dream come true. Likewise, Chloé's showing from the same season followed a similar theme. The fashion house — forever challenging the traditional Parisian girl aesthetic with its bohemian approach — utilized mahoganies and caramels to curate a celebration of brown. Retrospectively, it's evident the brands were foretelling a color coup d'etat, so to speak; brown is the color trend that would usurp black as fashion's preferred hue. And now, as the season in question unfolds, it's becoming apparent brown is indeed the new black.
Seemingly en masse, street style stars are stepping out in luxurious brown ensembles. Some of their outfits feature just a hint of the color, either via an earthy clutch or puffer jacket. Other looks, meanwhile, are head-to-toe brown and feel reminiscent of a decadent slice of devil’s food cake. Similarly, fashion girls are flooding Instagram with their brown #OOTDs, adding more evidence to the growing pile that black is not as popular amongst the fashion set as it once was.
Tyrell Harriott, founder of the underground It-Girl brand TYRELL, has an idea as to why brown has risen to style domination. “[Brown is] becoming more popular because the fashion climate of minimalism, [and that] all-black type of dressing, is dying and being replaced with maximalism,” says Harriott. “[Brown] is muted enough for the people that are itching to add more color in their wardrobe without it being daunting.” In other words, brown acts as a liaison from one austere, traditionally muted world and ushers its wearer into a new realm — one that possesses more potential for vibrancy and experimentation.
Marcelo Gaia of Mirror Palais concurs with Harriott. “There was a period where people really shied away from brown,” Gaia says in reference to the preceding phenomenon of all-black-everything. Thus, the uptick in popularity for the neutral hue feels “fresh to the eye” and creates the perfect recipe for a trending brown moment. Yet, Gaia adds, the mahogany hue is simultaneously retro: “[Brown is] also a nostalgic color, since it was very popular in the ‘90s when many of us were growing up.”
TYRELL’s Harriott also acknowledges the color’s sense of familiarity and says it’s no coincidence that the fashion folk are now seeking it out. “Brown is comforting and reminds people of nature. [And], especially in a time where we couldn’t go on trips or spend as much time outside over the last couple of years, [brown] adds to that warm, natural feeling we are yearning for,” he says.
For Harriott, however, the current nutty color trend is not a niche fad. “Brown is the core of my brand. The overall connection of brown skin, nature/wood, and the romantic hue of a sunset are the [bridging emotions] that fit [brown] to my aesthetic.” The designer continues: “I always want every collection to stem from sensuality and a sense of self-assurance, which brown conveys. I started my brand with a brown wooden bead being the focus, and it’s a motif in a lot of [my] pieces,” he says. “I [love] the feel of something tribal and assertive but misunderstood and sexy.”
In some sense, black is the feeling you get when an intimidating fashion girl passes you on the sidewalk — it’s cool, both in tone and in association. In contrast, brown is inviting and puts you at ease, like a warm embrace given by an old friend. And, as Harriot points out, given the tumult of recent years, intimacy and reassurance are what many crave — and brown fulfills that need.
Ahead, you’ll discover a sampling of brown outfits and products that’ll inspire you to start crafting your own sepia-toned looks.
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Piece together a brown look that consists of varying textures to show the dimension of the shade. A creamy silk contrasted against a ribbed knit makes for a dynamic look.
For Gaia, in particular, he’s partial to a brown suit. Unfortunately, the Hershey kiss-inspired, tailored set from his label is sold out. However, the designer has a few general styling ideas that can be applied to any chocolate-colored suited ensemble. “[A brown suit] can be styled for winter with an argyle vest and a crisp button-down, chunky boots, or loafers with thick fuzzy socks. Or, when on vacation, [wear the trousers] with a silk bandana top or a bra, and [add] some gold jewelry.”
A Graphic Brown Print
For those ready to experiment with a showy and maximalist philosophy, consider an eye-catching graphic pattern. Take it one step further by mixing-and-matching brown prints for a chaotic-neutral look.
You can also keep it relaxed with a casual, sporty moment — brown athleisure pieces have an inherent throwback feel. Try a sandy-colored tracksuit and pair it with a matching bucket hat in brown.
A Going-Out Dress
Gaia says the color is also one to consider for a night out. The designer points out that “sometimes brown photographs better than black, especially at night,” meaning it’s the ideal color to wear for a night out with your besties and when you need to capture a new pic for your Insta grid.
“[Brown] makes me feel very mature and, in a way, you have to be sure of yourself to wear brown,” says Harriot. “[Brown] is warm and important, and it’s the only color that I feel like you can almost smell just by looking at it — and that’s powerful!” To honor the statement nature of the color, try a bold brown coat that’ll conjure the scent of a decadent chocolate cake baking in the oven.