Fast and slow are two opposites that right now are turning what we know about the fashion industry upside down. We see slow fashion working in parallel with fast fashion in a way that has never happened before. It’s a very interesting coexistence because, thinking about it, slow has been the catalyst to fast, but it is also the consequence of it.
It is the long term, carefully and slowly developed technologies that have created our fast pace world. Fast is all around us – we carry it with us, we suffer information overload, we’re teched up to the max! Etailers now make fast fashion retailers look slow, with daily deliveries of new product. Bloggers and vloggers command the front rows of fashion shows, instantly posting views on the latest collections and designers now stream their shows live with immediate possibilities to purchase online.
A great example of a product channeled to help this fast pace reality is Spritz (spritzinc.com), a piece of software that allows for you to read up to three times faster than normal by showing just one word at a time positioned in such a way that your eyes don’t need to move across a page – great for smaller devices and, of course, speeding up your world even more! Honda used it to great effect in their recent “Keep Up” ad campaign – the video is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t seen it.
So, is it any wonder that the trend at the moment is ‘no trend’? Instead, the movement is to slow down and focus on creating a strong brand ID – to refine and (re)define. Buyers are still cautious in a turbulent market place and sticking to what they know. Brands are moving a style forward by upgrading to a higher performance fabric or a more refined fit, but very rarely both at the same time.
What’s more, the increasing need for transparency in brands and a more ethical and sustainable business model is another huge consideration right now. Companies like FashionRevolution.org are on a mission to make consumers question, “Who made my clothes?” and brands need to slow down to react to it. Recently they placed a vending machine in Alexanderplatz in Berlin selling €2 T-shirts and when a potential purchaser put in the money, the machine showed a video of the person who made the T-shirt, summing up their pay/working/living conditions and then asked if the buyer still wanted the T-shirt or would now rather donate the €2 towards bettering working conditions. The majority of would-be buyers donated!
There is the need to reach out and speak to customers and offer them something special like Carlsberg’s billboard at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in London last April that featured an actual beer tap embedded beneath the slogan, “Probably the best poster in the world”, so anyone passing by could pour themselves a cold beer for free. A publicity stunt, yes, but also a good way to slow down and get in touch with their consumers and another great example of the coexistence of fast and slow coming into play.
In response to the constant stream of technology and our seeming inability to disconnect (according to a recent study, The On Demand Economy By the Numbers, 70% of Americans now own smart phones and the average person checks their phone every six minutes, about 150 times a day), there is a new range of services and experiences being developed to help us consciously unplug and slow down – such as Yondr a mobile phone case that can be programmed to automatically lock the phone when entering certain places.
The development of laser technology in denim has allowed for vintage wash effects to be achieved in a much more environmentally friendly way (with faster production times and greatly reduced water consumption). But, the results off the production line are a rack of identical jeans and when it comes to vintage, it is unique characteristics that make denim special. So slow, hand crafted scraping and scuffs are being added to ‘authenticate’ the final appearance. This is where technology and the craftsman combine.
There is no shortage of examples of how wearable tech is already impacting the apparel, accessory and footwear industry. From adidas’ Ultra Boost running shoe that enhances the user’s performance by giving them “energy return” via energy capsules situated in the sole that provide 20% more return in energy to the runner, to the announcement in June of Levi’s partnership with Google ATAP on Project Jacquard – a fabric with digital connectivity that will enable the control of phone features through the surface of a garment. So, in the future, wearers will be able to silence a phone call by touching their jeans or add a song to their playlist by touching their jacket. The aim is for the wearer to have more hands-off device time so they can enjoy face-to-face time instead.
There is, of course, the fear that if you think too far ahead, trying to be fast on your feet and ahead of the game, that you might actually get left behind – the sad demise of the trade show Bread and Butter is a good example of this. So the key, nowadays, is to find a way for the two to coexist for your brand. And rest assured that there are still the developers working in the background to create the new bit of kit that will either speed us up further or slow us down somehow in the days, months or years ahead.
London/ Paris/ Tokyo/ New York/ Berlin
Our trend watchers get out and about in some of our favourite cities to bring you a snapshot of the hottest looks being worn on the streets.
London/ Tokyo/ New York/ Paris
Our Hot Retail section highlights a select few of the freshest new shops to visit when travelling the globe.
Much of the buzz generated by this season’s catwalk shows revolved around the many gender-neutral looks on show. However the other directions we highlight prove that this is a season where activewear plays a leading role, references from the past are replayed at a fresh tempo and surface diversity is key. Graphically, this is a season to make a real statement.
Denim Most Wanted
At the latest Denim by PV show in Barcelona, the key trends we found being worn around the show highlight a real attention to decorative detailing and personal craftsmanship. These guys had been spending time on creating individual statements that played much more with patchwork, cutting and recolouring than before.
Trade Fair View
The trade shows in Berlin felt delightfully fresh with a vast selection of soft pastels and nudes, sheer fabrics and shiny metallic surfaces. Minimalism, with its clean lines and purity overtook last year’s brashness and futuristic forms presented interesting angular shapes. Fun, bold graphics, peasant worker styling and a retro feeling were also on display.
There is a real warmth to Winter 16/17, and a sense of colours infused with character. Three of our palettes have a focused message concerning a particular hue, and two palettes contain more mixed and scattered personalities. Many shades have a certain level of saturation that acts as a robust scaffold for this sense of character. Others are tinted pales, devised to be used in conjunction with these stronger colours. It’s interesting to see these two personalities combine, as ethereal shades meet assertive brights.
Fabric & Trim Direction
Cross-overs are something we have been talking about for seasons. But, for Winter 16/17, the concept reaches new heights. This is not just a question of the blurring of end-use and a consequence of the boom in ‘athleisure’ wear. It is a consequence of genuine consumer demand for function with style and continued innovation in fabric design and technology.
Women’s Trend Direction & Key Items
Breaking away from the consistency of previous seasons, this autumn/winter we see themes detach and move away from the understated lines seen of late, exploring diverse decorations and exaggerated proportions. Texture is paramount, palettes explore both richly diverse tonalities and openly graphic combinations and typically fluid shapes of the bohemian look are contrasted against more structured and faceted silhouettes
Men’s Trend Direction & Key Items
Our menswear trends are defined by a new season that is pushing modernity to the limits and is inspired by fast-evolving technology. Where there is any retrospection, it is revised and updated. Military futurism, concealment and protection are key aspects to our stories, perhaps reflecting deeper concerns about perennial global and local geopolitical issues, in a time when details of unrest or disease in the remotest parts of the planet can be metaphorically viral within hours.
This season not only explores the origins of some familiar looks and techniques, but begins to play with perceptions of what is past and what is very much current. Rules begin to be broken, as we see modernist Scandinavian-inspired dress combined with medieval accessories, or Victorian-inspired silhouettes reworked with eastern-inspired decorative techniques. We also discover how to make the all-important seventies look hot for one more season.
When it comes to our trend stories, we are still finding that the dynamics of modern life are leading people to search for the proverbial emergency exit, or to seek a better life. Some see technology as the door to solutions, while others seek refuge in nature, or in escape to imaginary worlds. While this may sound dystopian, hope glimmers through all the trends, thanks to the belief that we can change matters – with the help either of new technology or of age-old ingenuity.
Currently fashion and wearable technology are two separate areas of design, but we are predicting the demand for a greater synergy between the two areas as the technologies themselves become more discreet, cheaper and useful to a broader cross-section of consumers.
Stylistic cues for coming seasons ensure that ethics remain a fundamental cornerstone of the industry rather than a faddish concern. They also reflect a discernible abandonment of traditional form and function tropes, instead playing up the need to enliven and to experiment with the unmined, the unforeseen and the downright uncanny.