Online fashion and beauty retailer Asos is extending its diversity agenda once more with a fashion-forward jumpsuit that’s suitable for wheelchair users, created in collaboration with British Paralympic athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins.
The waterproof outfit costs £50 and has an adjustable hood, a zip around the waist to make it easier to get in and out of, cuffs that allow the sleeve length to be changed, and a pocket for medical supplies. It’s currently only available in one style – pink tie-dye – but Ball-Hopkins hinted that similar garments could soon be on the way. She also clarified that the jumpsuit can be worn by anyone, not just those with disabilities, highlighting the universality of the design.
The accessible suit is far from the retailer’s first encounter with progressiveness – Asos regularly houses exclusive plus-size collections, carries gender-neutral products, and promotes body positivity through inclusive brand marketing. With consumers increasingly demanding diversity across age, size, race and ability, the project is a good reminder that brands should aim for ultimate inclusivity; those that don’t will be left behind.
Consumer demand for sustainable goods and advanced technology is on the rise. Smart brands and retailers are finding innovative ways to satisfy these environmentally conscious yet stylistically discerning millennials. Here, we take a look at three future-facing fashion projects and innovations for July.
For more on sustainable solutions, see A Sustainable Journey, Fashion’s Sustainability Surge and Sustainability Turns Smart: Manufacturing a Clean Future.
As considerate consumption moves from consumer choice to consumer necessity, brands are shaping up. Game-changing sustainability initiatives seem to be launching almost every week, with big brands surprisingly leading from the front. Here, we take a look at June’s sustainability wins.
Leaving sustainability as an afterthought isn’t good enough. With an increasingly informed and compassionate consumer population, it’s imperative for niche and household brands alike to embrace the change.
The magazine, which is published by luxury fashion e-tailer Net-A-Porter, is dedicating its summer issue to the oceans. It will contain a 63-page “Ocean Portfolio” shot in the Maldives, featuring model and Parley ambassador Anja Rubik. Editorials and interviews will explore the critical issues around ocean plastic and explain how readers can take matters into their own hands.
The two-month campaign will see related content published on Porter.com and on social media under the hashtag #PlasticNotFantastic. Meanwhile, visitors to Net-A-Porter.com will be able to purchase items made from Parley’s own Ocean Plastic material, including an exclusive new eyewear range.
Crucially, the magazine is showing long-term commitment to the cause by pledging to become plastic-free by 2019. It’s already taking steps towards this by dispatching its issues in recyclable paper envelopes, as well as making in-house changes like a ban on disposable plastic in the office and on its photo shoots.
Porter is just one of a number of fashion industry players to collaborate with Parley, with Adidas, Stella McCartney and G-Star Raw all having previously partnered with the eco-warriors. For more, see Upcycling: Adidas x Parley.
For more on the fashion brands embracing sustainability, see Sustainable 360 from our New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update, and look out for A Sustainable Journey, publishing on June 13. To read about more sustainability-focused engagement strategies, see Retail: Reframing Sustainability and Creating Shared Value: Sustainability Marketing.
Alessandro Michele’s Resort 19 showing was a full-blown spectacular with over 100 exits, posing the question: Have pre-season shows become just another RTW opportunity rather than between-season collections?
Alessandro Michele’s idiosyncratic approach to design has true seasonless appeal. Among the many looks were padded puffer jackets, animal print leggings, silky kimonos, floral coats, capes and his signature take on the Chanel-style suit. All worked in iconic print mash-ups and a palette dominated by shades of pink and green teamed with the grounding force of black.
Expect the influence of those pattern mash-ups to hit the high street with full-blown rose motifs, scarf prints, suiting checks and all-over foulards. They worked alongside glittering sequins, plush velvet and crystal trims for anything-goes evening-meets-daywear looks.
Silhouettes veered towards ruffled and tiered maxi and midi lengths, although there were some thigh-high disco-ready mini dresses and one-shouldered goddess looks. Outerwear had an easy vintage appeal with soft, unstructured shapes along with casual puffer and parka styling.
The devil is always in the detail with Michele, who accessorised every look with a battery of overscaled jewelled crosses, crystal-trimmed toques, lace gloves, classic GG-patterned totes and embellished boxy bags.
Footwear came as elevated foot-stomping Goth shoes, double-strapped Velcro sandals, ladylike Mary Janes and buttoned Edwardiana boots, all teamed with vividly coloured lace hosiery.
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Nicolas Ghesquière upped the ante with his Resort 19 show for Louis Vuitton, full of oddball reference points and eclectic styling.
This show, held in the South of France, was a collection of individual pieces, determinedly mismatched to create an eccentric thrown-together look with its roots in the street and vintage-inspired dressing. That vintage was the 80s, an era Ghesquière is often keen to plunder and one with inspiration for the fast fashion and junior markets.
Exaggerated shoulderlines and sleeve detailing dominated the silhouette, with armadillo-style flanges, oversized padding and slashed-open seam details, all oddly teamed with pie-crust ruffles, over-long fluted cuffs, short skater dress proportions and mini wrap and drape skirts.
Contrast trims, peplums, batwing sleeves and wrap and drape tops compounded the 80s theme, along with bum-freezer tuxedos, jacquarded sweaters, cropped bolero jackets and even jodhpurs. For after 6pm there was a change of tack as Ghesquière visited the boudoir with his beaded satin slips and flirty cami-shorts topped with feathered capelets.
There was a play on pattern, too, with mismatched spots and stripes, patchworked florals and an anything-goes medley of treebark plisse, beaded charmeuse and acid-wash denim, leather and feathers, Prince of Wales suiting, LV Damier checks and masculine stripes, all worked in a palette of warm neutrals or black and white, punctuated with lilac, mint, mango and a splash of red.
And if the styling was eccentrically OTT, then watch for the accessorisation of welder eyewear, webbing and leather tie-belts, swinging chain jewellery and fashion’s ubiquitous over-the-knee stocking boots, here on a chunky trainer-style outsole. Not forgetting the collaboration with styling supremo Grace Coddington with her kitsch cat- and dog-shaped bags.
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US department store Nordstrom is upping its size-inclusive strategies – recognising the $22bn spending power of the plus-size market, as well as the need for inclusivity across the board.
US denim brand Good American (co-founded by Khloé Kardashian) acted as the catalyst for the department store. The size-inclusive brand demanded that the retailer picked up every size from US 00-24 (UK 2-28) in order to sell its collections.
Nordstrom’s initiative will focus on size and shape diversity across all of its media, mannequins, marketing and signage, which brands with a limited size range will be excluded from. It’s also adding a size-equalising function to its website in a bid to eliminate vanity sizing. This means that customers who search for a size will be shown what closely resembles that measurement from other brands – even if that size is labelled as something else.
Recognising the need for a size-inclusive and fashion-forward product offering, Nordstrom has started asking brands to increase their sizing ranges. Topshop, Rag & Bone and Madewell have extended their denim sizes in line with the retailer’s request, while athletic brands like Nike, Beyond Yoga and Adidas have added XXL to their product offerings.
With brick-and-mortar stores being Nordstrom’s key draw, the strategy is a shrewd move. As size-diverse customers are often excluded from the in-store experience, stores would do well to lead from the front – tackling limited-size brands to ensure every customer is catered for.
A highly wearable collection of tightly edited silhouettes, a marine-inspired palette and more than a touch of 70s inspiration created a strong commercial template for Pierpaolo Piccioli’s 2019 Resort showing for Valentino.
The designer tapped into the zeitgeist for all things 70s-themed, with his crisp fit-and-flare silhouettes, giant eyewear and scarf-wrapped heads conjuring up images of Antonio Lopez’s iconic illustrations of the era. Boxy Rockstud shoulder bags and tasselled, block-heeled loafers provided the perfect accoutrements to the gamine girl-about-town looks.
A strongly defined palette of red, white and navy was used in clean colour-blocked mixes or as graphic archival prints. These add a new dimension to the ongoing trend for luxury branding – here reworked as all-over scrolling Nouveau-esque patterns, sharp ‘V’ motifs, graphic scale-mixed typographical slogans and beaded trims. For a softer, more feminine look, think sprays of springtime mimosa and delicate poppies or mixed herbaceous all-overs and hibiscus florals on pretty tinted grounds of lemon, pistachio, lilac and sky blue.
Strong linear silhouettes featured crisp pleated skirts and waisted A-line shirt dresses, gold buttoned blazers, classic trench coats and logo-driven V-neck knits, complemented by 70s-style denim flares and micro miniskirts – all accented with topstitching or contrast collar detailing. The house’s signature tiers and ruffles came into play too, with flared floral midi-dresses and chocolate-box broderie maxis, while sequins and floral appliqués added to the more decorative appeal.
It’s not just those colour-blocked tasselled loafers that will have impact on the high street next season. Watch for beaded or sequined western-style shooties hitting the sweet spot, along with printed head wraps and giant hoop earrings.
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Building on the success of her diversity-championing beauty range, Rihanna is launching a body-inclusive lingerie line dubbed Savage x Fenty. Ahead of the May 11 launch, the pop star has taken to social media to tease fans with campaign images and trailers that hint at the line’s focus on body positivity.
Starring plus-size models Audrey Ritchie, Lulu Bonfils and Stella Duval, the images are accompanied by affirmative captions like “Savages come in all shapes and sizes” and “X stands for all”. One video features Ritchie looking confidently at the camera while her voiceover talks positively about her stretchmarks, rolls and cellulite.
The brand’s site indicates that bra sizes will range from 32A to 44DDD, while underwear will be available in sizes XS to 3X.
Rihanna has already proven herself in the inclusivity space, with her cosmetics venture Fenty Beauty receiving a hugely positive reception when it launched in September 2017. Make-up fans and industry insiders alike praised its delivery of high-quality cosmetics for a wide range of skin tones, including foundation in 40 shades. See our blog post for more.
Taking into account her other non-musical endeavours, including her popular Fenty x Puma clothing line, Rihanna has established herself as a strong player across a number of industries. Her success is likely due in part to the amplifying effect of entering a lucrative space where entertainment, product and celebrity intersect.
New York was the location for Miuccia Prada’s latest Resort show, with the buzz of the city that never sleeps mirrored in the collection’s cacophony of noisy print and jarring colour – reading like a fast-paced back catalogue of tried-and-trusted house favourites.
However, those iconic prints and signature off-key colours took on a new youthful vibe when combined with 90s minimalist silhouettes, hip-slung flares and thigh-high minis. Add in sporty zippered polo shirts, colour-blocked tees, giant trapper hats and chunky block-heeled loafers and Prada’s reach suddenly moves out of the luxury sector and into the millennial mainstream.
The mood for layering added to the youthful feel, with jazzy printed polo knits blended with ruffled tank tops and self-belted hipster minis – all worked in a discordant palette of jade, emerald, primrose, cobalt, coral, tan and camel. Lean single-breasted coats and ankle-skimming sheer skirts or slip dresses may have had a timeless appeal, but it’s the retro geo-patterned hip-hanging pants, primary bright ruffle-hemmed wrap minis and frilled colour-blocked polo shirts we’ll see on the high street any day soon.
Fabric choices had a down-to-earth appeal, too, with spongy leathers, sports jersey, granular summer tweeds and opaque sheers all offering a tangible season-neutral stamp. Shimmering metallic brocades or cloques were worked in neat-fit jacket and micro skirt or flared pant combinations.
And those thigh-high gamine miniskirts put renewed emphasis on legs, with paillette-strewn hosiery and printed tights making a statement, offset with logo-stamped loafers or zingy colour-blocked patent sandals. Watch for the influence of those chunky plastic chain necklaces and oversized trapper hats, both replacing bags as the accessories du jour this season.
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As part of a bid to win back the favour of teen consumers, American brand Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) has created a throwback capsule collection that draws on its archives.
A pair of A&F chinos worn by former US president John F. Kennedy served as the central source of inspiration behind the menswear line, which harnesses other archival design cues such as 1960s references to sailing – one of JFK’s favourite pastimes.
Young consumers are being drawn to vintage clothing and cult brand revivals, with nostalgic labels like Tommy Hilfiger and Champion ranking among US Gen Z and millennials’ 10 most popular brands (Piper Jaffray, 2018). Leveraging its position as a heritage company, A&F is seeking to regain its affinity with teens by tapping into the rich archives it has at its disposal.
The collection is the latest move by the retailer to revive itself following several years of poor sales. Seeking reconciliation with teenage consumers, a demographic it has traditionally been associated with, A&F has also recently placed more emphasis on values held by Gen Z – such as diversity and inclusivity.
Last year, it shifted the focus of its campaigns away from the half-naked models it’s historically been famous for and towards a more ‘real’ and racially diverse cast. Meanwhile, in January 2018, it launched a unisex kidswear collection. The brand recently announced a 5% sales increase in the fourth quarter of 2017.
For more on teens’ approach to fashion, look out for our teen focus reports – publishing in May. To read about teen-centred retail, see Destination Teen: Targeting Youth.
As the fashion industry’s month long schedule of womenswear shows draw to a close, Gucci and Balenciaga – named the hottest brands of 2017 – are embracing political initiatives and social movements – building on their lucrative brand hype, while ensuring a lasting impact after the season ends.
Italian mega-brand Gucci has joined the anti-gun movement, donating $500,000 to March For Our Lives – the student-led protest organised by the friends, families and survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14. The brand is keen to support the cause using more than just capital, with its politically minded millennial fan-base increasingly demanding authentic showcases of activism and political engagement.
‘‘I am truly moved by the courage of these students,’’ said Gucci creative director Allessandro Michele of his position to join the march. ‘‘My love is with them and it will be next to them on March 24. I am standing with March for Our Lives and the strong young women and men across the United States.’’
Luxury French fashion house Balenciaga has similarly intertwined social change with its brand DNA of late – unveiling a collaboration with the World Food Programme at its A/W 18/19 show. The brand has announced an ongoing collaboration with the charity, including a $250,000 donation and a percentage of sales from the Balenciaga x WFP collection.
Shrewd brands would do well to outwardly embrace their core values. Against a volatile political climate and the rising spending power of millennials – neutrality may prove a riskier strategy.
For more on how brands can avoid ambivalence in tense political times see Brands Take a Stand.
As detailed in The New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update, fashion is altering its approach to sizing, diversity and gender. These topics animated the Fashion Institute of Technology’s symposium in New York on February 23, reflecting issues explored in its current exhibit The Body: Fashion and Physique (see blog). We recount the highlights.
Unlike some male designers who create clothes that they would like to see women wearing, Dries Van Noten designs clothes women actually want to wear. His A/W 18/19 showing was full of covetable pieces celebrating colour and pattern, coupled with an easy elegance.
Silhouettes followed a simple template of louche cocooning coats, soft pants and boxy tops, drapey blousons and relaxed sheath dresses – all providing a blank canvas for Art Brut add link-styled doodle prints and playful checks.
There was an almost Oriental Deco feel to the bicoloured scribble prints, sometimes worked in a contradictory, haphazard pattern clash, or as dimensional embroideries and beaded motifs. Other textures came in the form of soft Mongolian lamb collars and stoles, as well as a vivid fringe fanning diagonally across simple skirts and dresses.
The palette was a masterclass in offbeat colour mixes. Think lilac, mint and chartreuse with pops of red, parrot green, violet, Gitanes blue and orange, all grounded with black, white and ochre.
Van Noten doesn’t usually amplify the season’s trends, but he reflected looks seen elsewhere this season in patterned outerwear, the draped 80s pouf of a blouse sleeve, and colourful plaids sympathetically rendered in double jersey. Metallic cloques and brocades also tapped into A/W 18/19’s emerging fabric directions.
These were effortlessly timeless clothes. Casual parkas and sporty jacquard or marled knits were thrown into the decorative mix, along with oversized fur hobo bags and covetable snakeskin boots, adding a luxurious everyday vibe.
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From adopting a more charitable outlook to promoting the beauty of body ‘imperfections’, the fashion industry has finally started to wake up to informed consumers’ expectations.
Here’s a round-up of our favourite progressive initiatives from the past month, which other brands would do well to learn from.
For more on the lucrative opportunities inclusivity presents to brands, read our report A Fashion A’Woke’ning. For more on diversity, sustainability and the challenging fashion environment, see our Industry Trend The New Fashion Landscape 2017.