What were the dominant trends at this summer’s edition of Modefabriek? Which developments impact our taste, our behaviour and our professional field? These are the Takeaway Trends for and ahead of Spring/Summer 2020: DIGITAL DELIGHTS, I LIKE YOUR STYLE and ENDGAME: ACT NOW.
Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2010, are the new influencers. Pernille Kok Jensen from Fitzroy gave two insightful Talks on this first generation of Digital Natives, exploring how they are set to shape the near future. For Gen Z, a world without smartphones and the internet is akin to the stone age. They live in Phygital Reality; the digital and physical world merge into one. Everything is fluid, non-binary and soft. Virtual influencers are just as inspiring (and opinionated) as those made of flesh and blood. Members of Generation Z are accustomed to chaos and restlessness, are hyper-connected, ‘woke’, and can hold their own as hyper-individuals in the Phygital Reality. Their coolness is matched by their vulnerability.
Jan ‘Trendman’ Agelink’s Talk used plenty of real-life examples to help make the Phygital Reality comprehensible and applicable. Like gamification; Asos is selling digital clothing for avatars in the game The Sims, and letting gamers collect points in-game that can be exchanged for discounts on physical clothing. Amsterdam-based The Fabricant even designs nothing but digital clothing. They envisage a future in which we wear skin-coloured body suits onto which we download digital outfits – only visible on our ‘devices’. Digital fashion is also about an end to overproduction and sales: items are only produced – entirely bespoke – after they are ordered by the consumer. For Gen Z, pre-ordering will become an everyday affair, as is the case at unisex denim label CRUÈL from William Ampofo on the Modefabriek X HTNK platform: your online order is made and delivered to your home in just 3 to 5 days.
The digital world is also increasingly making its aesthetic presence felt in the real world. Modefabriek resembled a gigantic rainbow, with highlights including Yves Klein blue and purple, burned orange and ‘summer browns’, white with neons and luminous pastels, gradient effects and lots of transparent and iridescent materials. From the Danish ILSE JACOBSEN in the Central Hall to HERSHEL at OFF_SOUTH, the trend was everywhere, as was the kaleidoscopic collage of prints and style references, as with IRIEDAILY from Berlin.
Another digital delight is online video: a sure-fire way of increasing traffic to your social channels, your site and your online store, while adding genuine value for consumers. Expert Moriam Hassan Balogun from Organgevine gave a Workshop Talk with DIY tips for decent, ‘keep it real and relatable’ videos and the tricks of the trade for using them to generate as much business as possible.
Retail needs to become more of an immersive experience; we want to be plunged into a wonderful world where online and offline shopping are mutually supportive. How do you create digital effects such as filters and glitches in the physical world? Where does your service merge with the needs of fluid consumers?
I LIKE YOUR STYLE
From Gen Z and Millennials all the way to intrepid nonagenarians like Iris Apfel, the age of nonentities appears to be well and truly over. The trend is unapologetic, with a ‘live and let live’ attitude. Not only are we now daring to dress more exuberantly – colour! statement prints! extreme silhouettes! – the trend is now pushing towards hyper-individualism. Singularity and personal style is what it’s all about, preferably with a dash of eccentricity, gender-bending and/or a unique physical characteristic. Plus-size? Vitiligo? One-legged? No fashion problem: everyone is allowed to shine. Diversity, inclusivity and realness are today’s norms.
What’s great about this trend is that it’s not simply off the peg. It involves creativity, the fun of style hunting, collecting, vintage finds, a bit of mix-and-match and DIY, and mainly… fearlessness: daring to live! Everything is waiting to be discovered in our world, and the ‘weirder’ the better, like the vintage customised scooters from ROLLING JAPANESE that stole the show on the Dress Like A Man platform. The curator of this inspirational platform, Spike Spijker, points to accidental influencers such as Poggy and Yuthanan, whose unique styles inspire the industry – which, in turn, inspires consumers to develop a unique style. Mike Rubin from the American KRAMMER & STOUDT works on location on artworks to adorn his clothing. Inspired by a previous visit to the Dress Like A Man platform at Modefabriek, he returned to his roots as a surf culture artist and now transforms his US-made workwear basics into pieces uniques.
Pronounced fashion trends were also striking in the world of womenswear, such as the chunky and funky slides from INUIKII, a Swiss shoe brand with Italian origins. These amazingly comfortable slide-on sandals with easy-on-the-feet insoles are a genuine style breakthrough for women, as is the range of fancy sneakers that nowadays make the grade as ‘chic’. Always sexy and elegant? Certainly not, we’re all feminists now!
One marked response to all of this hyper-individualism can be seen in the rise of perfect basics wardrobe concepts, such as from Amsterdam’s DAILY UTILITIES AMS. A pure and perfected selection of high-quality essentials for men: never on sale, great retailer margins and a best friend for fashion consumers. You see, this ‘back to the essence’ design actually emphasises the person wearing the clothes, and the focus is therefore fully on distinctive sneakers, a statement piece or an exquisite tattoo.
How can you help hyper-individualistic consumers to find that special product with which to shine? How do you inspire people with ‘keep it real’ content?
ENDGAME: ACT NOW
Sustainability has flourished from being a ‘luxury option for Millennials’ into an absolute must. The experts in the Panel Talk – Professor Mariangela Lavanga, Ciara Shah from Verse Good Store and Marieke Vinck from Charlie + Mary – made a unanimous appeal: all of us, industry professionals and consumers, need to act in line with our values and ideals, and NOW! If you start now, then go completely green. After all, it is much harder for large existing companies to improve sustainability once processes are in place. The name of the game is taking responsibility, as this is the Endgame. ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is the mantra. In ‘rainwear fashion’, for example: the raincoats from MAIUM and the swimwear from WALLIEN at OFF_SOUTH, TET in the Central Hall and JUNGL in the Blue Market are all made from post-consumer recycled plastic such as old fishing nets.
Pioneer Bert van Son from MUD jeans – a ‘B Corp’, just like Patagonia, Tony’s Chocolonely and Dopper – shows that it is possible. The MUD jeans shredder was demonstrated during his Interview Talk, a device that recovers fibres from old jeans. These fibres are subsequently blended with new cotton fibres to make new jeans. What’s more, you can even lease the jeans. By 2020, Van Son – together with his innovation partners – expects to be able to produce 100% recycled and circular jeans. TEVA is also raising the bar, shifting from 40% to 100% recycled straps for SS20.
The sense of impatience is hard to miss, calls for activism and legislation ring out at Modefabriek. Activist communities such as PETA and Sea Shepherd associate themselves with heroes like MUD. Gen Z is also activist, and not only online. Just consider the dramatic rise in demand for Vegan. KUYICHI, a frontrunner in sustainable denim fashion, encapsulates it perfectly in a top-selling t-shirt printed with ‘ACT’.
How do you help yourself and those around you to wake up? What responsibility can you take right now? How do we get back to being heroes?