Most brands' modus operandi for 2020 was to err on the side of comfort. But in a sea of cozy loungewear was the slow ignition of the tied-up and twisted string fashion trend. It's quickly taken off in the form of multi-faceted knitwear and strappy cut-out dresses — chances are you’ve seen some iteration of the fad all over Instagram. The thought of adding the skin-baring pieces into your day-to-day rotation may make you incredulous, but when layered or styled with essentials you already own, it's likely you'll see the trend in a different light.
Now if you're up to date on the latest collections, then you know that for the Spring/Summer 2021 season, loose fringe was a common runway theme — a continuation of 2020's popular midriff flossing silhouette. Women-led label Ottolinger sparked the trend with its effortlessly cool midi dresses. Rui Zhou took a stretchier approach with its splashy bodysuit, of which the likes of Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer and singer Dua Lipa are famous fans.
Designer Aissata Ibrahima attributes the trend, which can be found in her own eponymous label, to past decades. "The string details give me a ‘90s effortlessly sexy vibe, like what R&B singers in that era would wear to award shows," Ibrahima tells TZR. With the industry’s affinity for nostalgia, it makes sense. Powerhouse brands like Jean Paul Gaultier and Salvatore Ferragamo come to mind when thinking of the skin-baring trend’s early roots. During the early aughts, Prada and Saint Laurent (then helmed by Tom Ford) brought strappy and stringy back. And today, designers of all sizes have strings on the brain. Translation: There are more than enough options available on the market to find a style or piece that fits your own aesthetic.
If you’re concerned about bringing the trend into your closet long-term, Ibrahima’s best advice is don’t be. “The beauty of dressing up [is] taking something, and making it work for you,” she explains. “I love the idea of layering a slinky string detail top over a shirt, or with a polo-neck [top] in the colder season with some baggy jeans and boots — trainers if you want to do an everyday effortless vibe.” The point is, the trend has a versatility that may be hard to spot at first glance but is worth exploring further, regardless of your style.
Just ahead is a well-curated list of seven brands that put their own spin on the trend and a few shoppable selects for your perusal.
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String Fashion Trend: Ottolinger
Cosima Gradient and Christa Bosch, design duo of Ottolinger, are known best for their edgy and chic approach to design. Among some of their most popular pieces are what they’ve dubbed “strappy dresses” with loose strings that can be tucked and tied accordingly. For a more wearable take on the trend, consider layering the sleeveless midi over your favorite bodysuit to create a multi-faceted ensemble.
String Fashion Trend: Aissata Ibrahima
For those looking for a more polished approach to the updated fringe trend, the well-tailored pieces in Aissata Ibrahima’s second collection are a great place to start. Instead of the string details hanging from every angle, they’ve been strategically placed at the cuffs for an arm-lengthening effect. "Even though it's sexy and revealing, I think it's still playful, so it doesn't always have to be dressed up," Ibrahima says about the trend. "Mixing it with something that's more your vibe and pieces that are already in your wardrobe is what will make [the look].
String Fashion Trend: Rui Zhou
It’s likely you’ve come across Rui Zhou’s distressed knitwear while scrolling through your timeline, with both influencers and celebrities flocking to the playful pieces. Bold and a little over-the-top, try paring back one of the stretch-effect bodysuits with tailored trousers. Neutral colored separates will balance the collection’s neon hues.
String Fashion Trend: TLZ L'FEMME
The celebrity-approved label’s latest offering includes its signature vegan leather trousers in an updated cherry-red hue for spring. Instantly recognized by the cascading fringe details, the spring 2021 lineup features top and bottom styles that can be paired together to make a statement or worn separately for a more subtle take on the trend.
String Fashion Trend: Christopher Esber
The beauty of Christopher Esber’s collections is it's always about the details, with the Spring/Summer 2021 collection being no different. Replacing distinct cutouts with string accents of the same effect, the lineup includes a slew of easy styles — think maxi dresses and slinky silhouettes. Try giving the pieces a more casual feel by wearing them with the chunky boot trend.
String Fashion Trend: Supriya Lele
One of the winners of the 2020 LVMH Prize, the British-Indian designer marries culture with innovation to create a range of clothing that are wearable, yet sure to stand out. Lele’s take on the string trend is reminiscent of the early 2000s, with the low-slung maxi skirts, coordinating asymmetric tops, and lace-up outerwear from the previous season that carries over into 2021. Freshen the trench up for spring with a strappy tank.
String Fashion Trend: Deveaux
Based in New York, Deveaux is where minimalists go when they’re looking for core staples with trendy details. So it comes as no surprise that the brand’s interpretation is understated with just enough flair. Rather than commit to the trend completely, start with a string-detailed basic that can slip seamlessly in and out of your everyday rotation.