A confused economy, a confused state of retail and an even more confused and contrasting look will rule fashion in the forthcoming seasons, where on the one hand there is an emerging recession struck section of society looking for a serious approach to build back life with work and ambitions – fueling the ‘formalwear/workwear market’, on the other there is a different section looking for a more current and shorthanded escape to a passion filled fantasy land following trends that are global fads – like the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. With two very contrasting looks running parallel in the hearts and wardrobes of the fashion forward masses, 2013 will see the coexistence of trends for two completely different clients…
[bleft]This year has been a year of ‘change’ and ‘introspection’, and every link in the supply chain including the buying offices has witnessed a churning process. At the buying offices, which are generally the last to feel the impact of slowdown, there have been many upheavals. While on one hand many country heads shuffled around, on the other cost cutting by retailers saw downsizing of buying operations. Interestingly, some new buying offices also opened doors preparing in advance for what could be a landslide in business, as China slowly but surely reduces its hold on the global garment trade. Another dimension to competition is added as buying offices begin to look at regions not countries… [/bleft]
What really started with a mere novel, the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy, with the first book in the series becoming the fastest-selling book of all times in the UK, surpassing the previous bestseller Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, caught up as a raging fire on the runways with international designers promoting the look of ‘innerwear as outerwear’. Aspiring to look like the main character, Anastasia Steele, who is presented as wearing exquisitely designed fancy European lingerie, all pale blue lace and finery, women have expressed an increased demand of sensual clothing in sheer synthetic fabrics and laced blouses and dresses. Influential names like BCBG Max Azria, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta and Prada have all been prompt enough to cash on this opportunity.
From soft dresses worn under leather harnesses, exposed conical bras, sheer lacy numbers and retro-style undergarments and swimsuits, corset type tops in honeycomb patterns bra tops exposing midriffs paired with blue denim skirts lined with satin, to sheer components that reveal luxe boy shorts, everything that is sexy and intimate seems to be selling in the market at the moment. Not only designers but retailers are also presenting limited collections, taking advantage of the trend that will stretch for a good enough time in 2013 as well till it reaches its saturation with the masses as well.
But what is strange to notice is the emerging popularity of workwear alongside this contradictory look, especially in the US, with the youth at a rapid pace moving away from a sexy image and aiming to look more ‘employed’ in their dressing style. The most noticeable example of this change has been the decreasing profits of the brand Abercrombie and Fitch with a sharp downward curve in 2012, which was once an iconic aspiration for teens and young adults. Losing score off its ‘sexy and flirty’ image showing a rapid downward curve in both profits and fashion merchandise, a number of analytical reports state that coolness and sex both do not sell anymore, and prim and proper is the new dress code for the coming years.
With classic elements already revisiting us from a formal wardrobe, suiting to the psychology of a jobless youth, silhouettes which are comfortable yet crisp and serious, trendy yet classic and style that fit perfectly into the definition of semi formals are also pumping the growth of many retailers. While American Eagle Outfitters have been banking on mainstream fashion items such as camisoles with Peter Pan collars and pleated chiffon blouses in its latest collections, even Gap Inc. announced net revenue increase featuring clothing that is comfortable, classy and hip.
[bleft]Comparing both trends, while the formal look is certainly more promising and long lasting, the sensual still can turn out to be just a soon-to-fade-off trend in 2013. Pleasantly enough, amid both these coexisting looks, Indian manufacturers can be considered standing on a point of opportunity, where they can successfully cater to either of the markets in one way or the other.[/bleft]
While talking to many in the industry, a faster life, and lesser time to change in-between occasions on a single day has made workwear a category that is multipurpose, something that does not look like uniforms but are trendy and can be worn more for office wear. A working woman has become the new fashion muse, debating a look that is becoming highly prevalent day by day, emerging both ways with casual wear becoming more formal and workwear becoming more stylish. Supporting this trend, pants and trousers have already filtered as a staple in a woman’s wardrobe, and recently even the classic peter pan collars have been embraced by fashion giants such as Giambattista Valli, DKNY, Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs. In forthcoming product developments, exporters are also found working with other elements like Chinese collars, cuffs, collared blouses pleating and pin tucks and even the embellishments have gone toned down with bling getting totally out of fashion.
Pleasantly enough, amid both these coexisting looks, Indian manufacturers can be considered standing on a point of opportunity, where they can successfully cater to either of the markets in one way or the other. Known for laces, value additions and sheer fabrics India, while holding the right resources to be able to offer new interpretations of the sensual look that are more commercial imparting a ready-to-wear appeal, can also formalize the look of our already strong fashion pieces by adding classic elements to sober down the final product, catering to a contrasting market altogether.