Bid goodbye to the trends of the 2010s — until they're back as vintage, of course. The decade transformed the fashion industry thanks to shifts in consumer culture, which include the rise of DTC, and of course, the introduction of social media. Now, with a new year and decade quickly approaching, it begs the questions: Where will fashion go next? What will be the trends of 2020 that transform the fashion industry? Thanks to the teases from the Spring/Summer 2020 runways, you can already see hints of what's to come — suiting over athleisure, romantic details. Pair these design shifts with expert insight into mass industry and consumer trends, and you get an idea about how the fashion landscape is being shaped now, with impact for decades to come.
According to Laura Yiannakou, Senior Editor of Womenswear at trend forecasting company WGSN, there are a number of shifts — both small and sweeping to look out for. As it's her job to think ahead, seasons and sometimes years in advance, she's already clued into the key trends, shifts, and sensibilities to keep a close eye on as you ring in the next decade. From a pointed focus on knitwear, to a resurgence of ultra-feminine, maximalist design, and a demand for more modular, functional offerings, read on for a forward look at what to know about fashion in 2020 and beyond.
The 2020 Fashion Trend: High Volume Dresses
While voluminous dresses that might belong in Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe were popular this year on the runways of Cecilie Bahnsen and 2019 CVFF winner Christopher John Rogers, the style wasn’t just a flash in the pan. “We expect to see commercial interpretations of the ‘big dress’ peak in 2020,” says Yiannakou. “Confident, bold yet feminine, is this item the latest alternative to the power blazer? Linked to an empowered consumer seeking fun in downbeat times, this kind of fancy-free and frivolous dressing will fill the void left by a noticeable absence of streetwear at the moment, across Womenswear catwalks and trade shows.” Similarly, Yiannakou anticipates that 2019’s most buzzed about trapeze dress will be reworked in winter-ready taffetas and sturdy velvets, and that the bubble-hem — “2020’s modern take on the '80s puffball style” — will gain traction throughout the year.
The 2020 Fashion Trend: Updated Cardigans
The transition of the cardigan from a practical wardrobe staple to legitimate fashion must-have is one that has been brewing for the last few seasons. But this is only the beginning, explains Yiannakou, calling out both Katie Holmes' viral turn in Khaite's Scarlett Cardigan, and Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged cardigan selling at auction for $334,000 as proof. "Knitwear’s most unexpected fashion item for 2020 has arrived," she says. "Slouchy styles remain key in this era of comfort, in addition to the focus on '90s grunge." But, she notes that a shrunken cardigan feels freshest as ultra-feminine silhouettes are on the rise.
The 2020 Fashion Trend: Modern Femininity
For the last decade, the fashion industry has been enamored with the concept of comfortable, casual dress, from the rise of sneaker culture to the proliferation of outside pajamas. But according to Yiannakou, we’re about to see pendulum begin to swing in 2020. “The re-emergence of categories such as tailoring and girly party wear have most definitely warranted a rebalancing of the casual offer this year,” she says. “Moving forward, the focus hones in on the glam end of the spectrum.” You can see the shift clearly on the spring runways where elevated precision was the norm, from the corseting at Dion Lee and Alexander McQueen to the sleek darting at Kwaidan Editions.
The 2020 Fashion Trend: Multi-Use Fashion
“Adjustability, modularity, and reversibility will reshape the fashion landscape in 2020 and beyond,” Yiannakou says. “This revolution is beginning to take off in [the] outerwear category, as the consumer is demanding comfort and weather-appropriate practicality to go hand in hand with fashion.” These design details have become extremely prevalent as we round out the end of 2019, with popular fashion brands like FARM Rio and Everlane turning out reversible jackets in time for winter, and Outdoor Voices debuting its new, functional rip-off pants, reminiscent of the early-aughts. But according to Yiannakou, it’s not enough for just active and outdoor brands to service this need. “Fashion brands too will have to design assortments that are grounded in hardworking design that provides solutions,” she explains. “Trailblazing brands and exciting new collaborations are seizing the opportunity with practical-meets-trend-led design. We will see more details such as removable mid-layers, detachable sleeves and hoods, and extendable hemlines.”
The 2020 Fashion Trend: Clothing Rental And Resale
The fashion industry has been disrupted with resale sites that fit every style, from luxury options like TheRealReal and Rebag to apps like Depop and streetwear-focused platforms like StockX and Heroine. And alongside these options have come a range of rental platforms as well. Rent the Runway, Le Tote, Stitch Fix, and most recently Urban Outfitter’s Nuuly. “The timing for rental and resale models feels ripe, as it’s a way of getting the customer excited about consumption, but in a sustainable way that can also be more cost-effective,” explains Yiannakou. WGSN is counting on these services and consumer behaviors to only grow as you move into 2020.
The 2020 Fashion Trend: Eco-Conciousness
"We are facing extremely turbulent times on a global scale, both politically and environmentally. Designers are more eco-conscious than ever before," Yiannakou explains. "We will see a continued focus on intelligent, innovative design that works hard to challenge current issues and offer solutions regarding consumption, waste, pollution, and climate." Though sustainability has become an overused buzzword, there are brands like Maggie Marilyn, Patagonia, and Reformation are taking industry-leading steps to develop new fabrics and production practices that will lead to a more sustainable future.