We are all well acquainted about fashion’s love affair with the grand allure of seafarers. The whole Oceanside getaway fantasy that fits seamlessly into the positively escapist approach to fashion has come to define the season itself.
The category where this theme gets the full-fledged freedom to truly come unto its own is of course, resortwear – A segment that is never without a party of prints, colourful explosions and an overall ‘happy-go-lucky’ vibe.
After all, what other way is there to spell ‘out of office’ without using words, than your vacation pictures filled with roomy robes and photo printed dresses of the destination where you are headed for?
The biggest genius of resort/cruise clothing is its association with aspirational fashion. A big market for Indian garment manufacturers, resort labels cash in on people’s desire to be their better, more sophisticated selves in a new town or country. This yearning is what keeps resort growing, a category that earlier used to be small to add-on to target a small percentage of rich customers.
With waterside vacations on the rise according to a report from the Association of British Travel Agents that marked ‘beach holidays’, having a preference for 41% people surveyed in 2017, while other resortwear appropriate locales like Cruise or Lakeside also feature in the top 10.
This socio-cultural shift has rightfully translated into an important design direction for the season. After wearing logos and slogans of words, people now want to wear literal prints of the places they are going.
The Resort 2019 shows, which fashion designers normally release without big budget fashion shows, are often counted as their most profitable collections; thanks to their long stocking on shelves as well as the wearability offered always.
Pavneet Singh, Fashion Designer at Aiwit Fashion expounds that the entire water-loving seascape is an industry favourite when it comes to beach/resortwear. The ‘by the waters’ story is so integral to the company’s assortment that it can actually be termed as the ‘basics’ part of the collection. Singh added that in order to add a new element to this, their team is working on mountains and hiking inspired prints. In a way, the story explores the mixed appeal of heights and expansive oceans… Additionally, they are also working on ‘whites’ sub-line that will include major international runway-approved silhouettes like tie-waist robes and pareos, twisted sarongs, umbrella dresses, etc.
Oceans and the seaside is an undisputed central theme. The strongest effect is on everyone’s print directions. Altuzarra’s line was filled with embroidered imagery of Italian Riviera and portside in an oversize placement print sort of way. However, not everyone was quite as literal in their approach. Emilio Pucci and Johanna Ortiz took up the idea of tropical palm trees and reinterpreted them in heavily saturated pop colours.
Completing the print and pattern direction, the colour story can easily be summed as ‘sunset by the sea’. The complete gamma of red, yellow and orange as well as clean blues and white are practically all the colours your resortwear mood board needs.
Chanel, whose entire show was inspired from a literal cruise, which they named it ‘La Pausa’, printed just that on tops and T-shirts in a more illustration design sort of way.
A less literal but practically more reminiscent trend of seafaring, the classic navy and white horizontal stripes, also known as marinière or Breton stripe also made waves again in high-fashion. The stripe style was used on T-shirts, trench coats, dresses, light cover ups and skirts by major designers such as Antonio Marras, Balmain, Chloé and Michael Kors in their Resort 2019 line-up.
Shreya Parashar of Radnik Exports added that while florals are always a print for summer, 2019 is going to focus more on stripes. Reworking different widths and mixing it with other patterns or placing small placement motifs is the main print direction for brands.
Going beyond the prints and imagery, fashion is embracing its love of tie-ups. Product development teams everywhere agree that wrap dresses, tie-up lace seams and simple tie straps on tops and dresses are the biggest value addition taking place.
Knots and twist that imitate the sailing ropes and straw weaves famously associated with the beach are gaining central focus this season as seen in Prabal Gurung’s catalogue. These are details that flirt with the idea of beachwear without being limited to that category itself.
Australian designer Nicky Zimmermann, who launched swim/beachwear in 1996, says that this segment is no more limited to clothes you wear on holidays, adding, “I think it slightly pigeonholes the segment to call it beachwear as there is a total crossover in the way people are wearing it. Everything is so much more trans-seasonal these days. Twenty years ago, we were thinking how can we sell an Australian summer print at winter time? Now, it doesn’t matter.”
Additionally, scalloped seashell-shaped edges were also spotted in some collections like Oscar de la Renta’s latest offering designed by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia.
As a segment, resort and beachwear is poised to only get bigger and more serious, thanks to more and more takers. With more in-between season collections than ever, brands might not call it resort but everyone has to offer this product category in one way or another. A major proof of this growth are big trade fairs like COTERIE and PURE London adding new, more focused sections for resort designers to present their work in immersive spaces.
It is a segment that comprises of simple but twisted designs and is not extremely affected by passing trends and will continue to grow both domestically and internationally.