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Top 9 fashion and apparel industry trends for 2021

Emily walpole

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Top 9 fashion and apparel industry trends for 2021

 

The fashion and apparel industry has taken some interesting directions over the past year. Some of these trends were triggered by the pandemic and cultural shifts that may have lasting impacts for years to come.

As a seller in the industry, staying aware of these trends is an absolute must. In this post, we’re going to break down 9 of the top trends in fashion and apparel before we dive into some 2021 predictions for the industry. We will wrap things up by discussing some of the best tips for selling clothing on Alibaba.com.

Let’s take a look at some quick industry stats to get started.

The fashion industry at a Glance

Before we dive into the top trends in the fashion and apparel industry, let’s take a quick look at a snapshot of the industry on a global level.

    • The global fast fashion industry is on pace to be worth 44 billion USD by the year 2028.

 

    • Online shopping in the fashion industry is expected to reach 27% by the year 2023 as more shoppers buy clothing online.

 

    • The United States is a leader in global market shares, with a market valued at 349,555 million USD. China is a close second at 326,736 million USD.

 

    • 50% of B2B buyers turn to the internet when looking for fashion and apparel products.

 

Top 9 trends in the fashion and apparel industry

As we mentioned, the global fashion and apparel industry has seen some major shifts over the past year. Let’s take a look at the top 9 trends in this industry.

1. eCommerce continues to grow

Online shopping has been popular among consumers for a few years, but with COVID-related lockdowns, stores were forced to close for many months. Unfortunately, many temporary closures became permanent since these stores were unable to absorb the losses and bounce back.

Luckily, eCommerce was already becoming the norm before the pandemic, so some businesses were able to survive by shifting towards eCommerce almost exclusively. Currently, there are not many advantages for businesses to revert back to selling in brick and mortar storefronts, so it is likely that eCommerce will continue to grow.

2. Clothes become genderless

The idea of gender and the “norms” surrounding these constructs are evolving. For centuries, society has placed men and women in two distinct boxes. However, many cultures are blurring the lines and people are beginning to wear clothing that they feel comfortable in rather than what has been designated to them based on their sex.

This has sparked the creation of more genderless clothing. At this point, there are only a few entirely genderless brands, but many brands are incorporating unisex “Basics” lines. Some of the most popular genderless brands include Blindness, One DNA, and Muttonhead.

Of course, the majority of the fashion industry is separated into “men’s,” “women’s,” “boy’s” and “girls,” but unisex options are giving people to shy away from those labels if they prefer.

3. Increase in sales of comfortable clothing

COVID-19 has changed the way that many people live. With many adults shifting to remote work, children shifting to distance learning, and many public places being closed, people have been spending more time at home. Since people have been stuck at home, there is been a significant increase in sales of athleisure1 and loungewear.

In March of 2020, there was a 143% increase2 in pajama sales coupled with a 13% decrease in bra sales. People began to prioritize comfort right off the bat.

By the last quarter of 2020, many fashion retailers began to recognize that comfort had become key. They arranged their campaigns to emphasize the most comfortable items available.

Since many businesses are continuing to allow people to work from home, it is possible that this trend could be around for a while longer.

4. Ethical and sustainable buying behavior

In recent years, more public figures have brought attention to social issues that are related to the fashion industry, specifically when it comes to fast fashion.

For starters, textile waste3 is at an all-time high because of consumers’ spending habits. People buy more clothes than they need, and billions of tons end up in the trash every year. To combat this waste, some people are leaning towards brands that either make high-quality products that are meant to last for a long time or those that use recycled materials to create their clothing.

Another ethical issue that often arises is the use of sweatshops. The idea of factory workers being paid pennies to work in very poor conditions does not sit well with many. As more awareness is being brought to these issues, more consumers are favoring brands that use fair trade practices4.

As people continue to make lifestyle shifts towards sustainability and the like, these trends could likely carry on for years to come.

5. The growth of “ReCommerce”

Over the past year, “ReCommerce” has become more popular. This refers to buying used clothes from a thrift store, consignment shop, or directly from a seller on the internet. Consumer to consumer marketplaces like LetGo, DePop, OfferUp, and Facebook marketplaces have certainly facilitated the “ReCommerce” trend.

Part of this trend has to do with the shift towards eco-friendly buying and reducing waste, but “upcycling” and repurposing vintage pieces have also been on the rise. Upcycling is basically when somebody takes an article of clothing and revamps it to match their style. Sometimes, this involves dying, cutting, and sewing clothes to make something new.

Another major appeal of ReCommerce for consumers is that they can get gently used clothing for a fraction of the retail price.

6. Slow fashion takes over

People have begun to look down on fast fashion because of its ethical implications in regards to sustainability and human rights. Naturally, slow fashion is becoming a popular alternative, and brands with authority in the fashion industry are stepping up for change.

Part of this involves “seasonless” fashion. Major players in the fashion space have made a point to break away from the regular seasonal releases of new styles since that approach naturally led to fast fashion.

There have been intentional releases of styles that were traditionally used in other seasons. For example, floral prints and pastels have commonly been associated with spring fashion lines, but some brands have incorporated these prints in their fall releases.

The goal of creating seasonless fashions and going against seasonal trends is to urge consumers and other designers to allow pieces to remain in style for more than a couple of months. This allows brands to create higher-quality pieces with higher price tags that are meant to last multiple seasons.

It will be interesting to see how this trend plays out going forward because many fashion brands have yet to adopt these practices. However, since leaders in the industry have taken the initiative, more businesses may follow the lead.

7. Online shopping evolves

Online shopping has become more and more popular in recent years, however, many consumers hesitate to buy clothing online since they want to be able to see how the item fits them. In the past year, we’ve seen the emergence of technology that solves this problem.

eCommerce retailers are improving the online shopping experience with the help of virtual reality and augmented reality technology. Both of these technologies give shoppers the ability to use a virtual fitting room to see how the item would look in real life.

There are a few apps that support this type of demonstration. This technology is still being perfected, so it is likely that more and more retailers will implement them in their online stores in the coming years.

8. Inclusivity prevails

For many years, plus size women have had a hard time finding much variety in clothes that suited their body types. Many brands overlooked these women and failed to create styles that fit people that did not wear a standard small, medium, large or extra-large.

Body positivity is a growing trend that appreciates bodies of all shapes and sizes. This has led to more inclusivity in fashion in terms of sizes and styles available.

As per studies conducted by Alibaba.com, the plus-size-women’s-clothing market is expected to be valued at 46.6 billion USD by the end of this year which is double what it was valued at just three years earlier. This means that plus-size women have more clothing options than ever.

The inclusivity doesn’t end here. Brands like SKIMS are creating “nude” and “neutral” pieces that work for more than just people with fair skin tones.

Other brands are creating inclusive clothing lines that accommodate different medical conditions that require permanent hardware, like catheters and insulin pumps.

In addition to creating styles that work for more types of people, the fashion industry adds more representation into their campaigns. More progressive brands are hiring models of different races with different body types so that more consumers can see people that look like them in magazines, on billboards, and in other advertisements.

9. Payment plans become available

Many retailers are giving consumers the ability to make after-purchase payments. For example, a buyer could place a $400 order and only pay $100 at the time of purchase then pay the remaining balance in equal payments over the next three months.

This “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) approach allows consumers to spend money that they do not necessarily have. This started among lower-end fashion brands, and it is creeping into the designer and luxury space.

This is still such a new thing that there is little information on how this will affect the industry in the long run.

2021 fashion and apparel industry forecasts

It is very difficult to predict how the fashion and apparel industry will look in 2021 since we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. There are still a lot of uncertainties and many people are still not living as they normally would, so it is difficult to say if or when consumer behavior will return to the way it was before5.

However, there is a good chance that the trends related to new and improved technology and social consciousness will carry on for a while. Technology will likely continue to improve, and people will appreciate social consciousness more as they become more aware and educated on complex global issues.

fashion trends 2021

Tips for selling clothing on Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com facilitates transactions between many buyers and sellers in the fashion industry. If you are planning to sell clothing on Alibaba.com, there are a few things that you can do to increase exposure to your products and make more sales.

Let’s take a look at a few of the top tips for selling on our platform.

1. Pay attention to the trends

The fashion industry is always changing and evolving, but some of the trends that we’ve seen in the past year could be setting the tone for years to come.

Inclusivity and the preference towards sustainable fashion, for example, are two trends that generally shine a positive light on a brand. You cannot go wrong with incorporating some socially conscious practices into your business.

Additionally, the incorporation of virtual reality and augmented reality could help you stay up to speed with other businesses in the industry.

You don’t have to change your entire mission or shift your operations to perfectly align with trends, but keeping up with what’s new in the industry can give you a leg up on your competition that is neglecting to do so.

2. Use professional photos

One of the best ways to make your clothing listings stand out from the rest is to use professional photos. Take the time to photograph your clothing on different models and at different angles.

This looks much more appealing than clothing that is staged on a mannequin or photoshopped onto a picture of a model.

When you take close-up photos of the seams and fabric at different angles, that gives users a better idea of how the clothing will look in real life.

3. Optimize products and descriptions

Alibaba.com is a marketplace that uses a search engine to help buyers find the items that they are looking for. That means that you can optimize your products and descriptions with keywords that your target audience is searching for.

4. Offer customizations

Many buyers look for customized pieces, whether it comes down to choosing colors or adding logos. Be willing to accommodate if you have the resources to do so. Indicate on your profile and product listing pages that you offer OEM services or have ODM capabilities.

5. Send samples

Since there is such a wide range of qualities of garments available (and desired) in the fashion industry, your customers will likely appreciate samples so that they can be sure that they are buying what they are looking for. That way they can feel the fabric for themselves and see the articles in real-life.

Many sellers use minimum order quantities to prevent consumers from trying to buy individual articles of clothing at a wholesale rate. You can get around this by sending samples at the retail price.

6. Plan ahead

Prepare for influxes in seasonal garment sales ahead of time. If you sell coats to businesses that are located in a place where winter weather starts in December, make sure your buyers have stock in September or October.

Even if buyers are trending towards “seasonless” fashion, there is still the need for these articles of clothing as the weather changes throughout the year.

Final Thoughts

The fashion and apparel industry has had some interesting developments and shifts over the past year. The biggest driving force behind these trends is the emergence of new technology, a shift towards ethical consumption and the global pandemic.

As a seller, keeping up with industry trends is a wise idea, because you don’t want to fall behind.

If you’re looking to grow your wholesale clothing business or break into foreign markets, Alibaba.com is the perfect place to make that happen. Our platform has over 14 million active buyers, so you should have no trouble finding people who are ready to order your garments.

Getting started on our platform is quite simple. Just create an Alibaba.com seller account and activate your Gold Supplier membership. Once you’re verified as a seller, you can customize your online storefront and start connecting with buyers right away.

Fashion

Brown University Fashion Week 2021 Kicks Off with Lineup of Fashion and Lifestyle Royalty Including Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney, and More

Emily walpole

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Brown University Fashion Week 2021 Kicks Off with Lineup of Fashion and Lifestyle Royalty Including Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney, and More

PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 3, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Brown Fashion Week 2021 will take place from March 4 to March 26 and features some of the biggest names in the fashion and lifestyle industries. Re-imagined by student organization Fashion@Brown (F@B) as a virtual celebration this year, the impressive 22-day program of events is free and open to students and fashionistas around the globe and not limited to the Brown University community.

“We were astonished and humbled by the positive response we received to our invitations to speak at Brown Fashion Week this year,” states Sasha Pinto, president of the student organization, Fashion@Brown. “We wanted to make Brown Fashion Week bigger than ever to spread some much-needed inspiration to students given the extreme isolation everyone has been experiencing — and the fashion industry responded in overwhelming numbers. It is a tribute not only to the kindness and generosity of the individual speakers but to the industry in general.”

Joining Fashion@Brown will be such renowned leaders as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stella McCartney, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Emma Chamberlain, and Olivier Rousteing, among others. A complete list of all speakers and events follows.

Events are free and registration details can be found at https://fashionatbrown.com/events

Brown Fashion Week 2021 – Complete Speaker Lineup

Brown Fashion Week Distinguished Speaker Series kicks off on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 pm ET with …

Sarah Jessica Parker: Actress, Entrepreneur, Civic Activist: SJP Does it All… and in High Heels” on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 pm ET – Join F@B in conversation with the powerhouse whose latest bona fides include CEO of the SJP Collection, her booming shoe business; member of the Partnership for New York City, an economic council of NYC’s top CEOs; and vice chairman of the New York City Ballet… in addition to being a Golden Globe, Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild award-winning actress of the stage, silver screen, and television. Hear about SJP’s unique approach to retail, her myriad entrepreneurial initiatives, and her passionate dedication to the post-pandemic revival of New York City.

Next in the series is “Kenneth Cole: The Fashion Empire Visionary Shining a Light on Social Issues with Passion and Purpose,” on Monday, March 8 at 8:00 PM ET, featuring Kenneth Cole, who built a billion-dollar retail business while keeping in mind that “it’s great to be known for your shoes, but it’s better to be recognized for your soul.” Instead of being the company’s model, Kenneth Cole decided to be the company’s role model by lending his name to social issues like AIDS, homelessness, gun control, mental health and abortion. Cole will be interviewed by his daughter Amanda cole, Brown class of 2012.

On Monday, March 8 at 12:30 pm ET zoom in to “A Conversation with the World’s Foremost Fashion CEOs.” Isabelle Guichot, CEO of the chic Parisian fashion house Maje and former CEO of the renowned luxury maisons Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Balenciaga, joins Patrice Louvet, CEO of Ralph Lauren, for a dynamic industry leader fireside chat. As CEO of Ralph Lauren, which recently dressed Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the presidential inauguration, Mr. Louvet leads this hugely successful multi-billion-dollar company.

The series continues with “Steve Madden’s Wild Ride and Crazy Come Back” on Monday, March 9 at 8:00 PM ET. F@B is excited to host “the Maddman” himself who turned a fledgling startup launched in 1990 with $1,100 into a global, multibillion-dollar brand. But Steve Madden’s mistakes — from his battle with addiction to the financial shortcuts that landed him in prison — are as important to his narrative as his iconic shoes. Steve will share his uplifting story, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and how he hopes to use his hard-won platform to create positive change.

On March 10 at 2:00 pm ET: “Francesca Bellettini: The Powerhouse Behind the Billion-Dollar Brand” features the woman who has propelled the Yves Saint Laurent brand into the exclusive billion-Euro club, and in the process made herself one of the most powerful women in fashion where there are only a handful of female chief executives. Launching her career at Goldman Sachs before moving to prestigious fashion houses such as Prada, Gucci, Helmut Lang, and Bottega Veneta, Bellettini has shaped every form of luxury from the bags we carry to the clothes and shoes we wear.

On March 12 at 4:00 pm ET, F@B hosts internet phenomenon Emma Chamberlain: “The Most Interesting Girl on YouTube” according to the New York Times. Chamberlain, at just 19 years old, has created her own wildly successful brand as a Youtuber, social media influencer, Tik Tok star, podcaster, and owner of Chamberlain Coffee with a combined social media following of more than 30 million. Emma has also pivoted into the fashion industry, making her own merchandise and partnering with legendary Louis Vuitton. She has even recently entered the beauty world by becoming the global brand ambassador and creative director for Bad Habit Beauty Skincare. Emma has also had a huge impact on mental health, sharing her own struggles with anxiety and depression across all of her platforms.

The series continues on Sunday March 14 at 2 pm ET with “Olivier Rousteing: Transforming a Classic: Fashion’s Storyteller for a New Age.” Balmain’s wunderkind, Olivier Rousteing, will share what he envisions as fashion in the 21st century: a fresh, inclusive world of glamour and revolution. Bringing an innovative spirit of adventure and understanding of a digital generation, Olivier Rousteing’s creative vision has been integral to Balmain’s rapid growth as a brand and as a cultural staple on social media through his “Balmain Army.”

The next session, “Olivia Palermo: Style Authority, Tastemaker, and Instagram Case Study” on Thursday, March 18 at 7:30 pm ET is not to be missed. Palermo is a major force in the fashion industry; renowned designers invite her to collaborate, Valentino invites her to his yacht, Instagram uses her as a case study, and The New York Times published a feature story about her success. Olivia’s journey from an internship in the offices of Diane von Furstenberg in 2006 to an acclaimed international style authority and industry tastemaker today is a story that everyone with entrepreneurial ambitions will want to hear.

On Friday, March 19 at 12:30 pm ET, F@B presents “Stella McCartney: The Mindful Eco-Warrior of High Fashion.” Stella McCartney is one of the fashion industry’s most vocal champions of environmental issues and her company is a highly successful example of the commercial potential of sustainable, ethically minded businesses. Renowned not only for her successful designs, which included Meghan Markle’s wedding reception dress, Stella was also the first fashion designer ever to appear on the cover of American Vogue magazine in January 2020. A lifelong vegetarian, Stella has never used leather, feathers, skin or fur in any of her designs.

March 22, 7:30 pm ET, F@B presents – “Gwyneth Paltrow: The Oscar-winning Lightning-Rod, Trailblazing Lifestyle& Wellness CEO.” Join F@B for a chat with the actress-turned-powerhouse CEO who has taken the lifestyle and wellness market by storm. Providing a fresh—and at times controversial—perspective, Goop is one of the wellness industry’s most recognizable brands earning Paltrow millions of passionately loyal admirers (and, yes, a few trolls) through the simple premise that wellness is the new wealth. With Goop’s blend of aesthetic lifestyle digital media that touches on everything from beauty and wellness to fashion, food, home, and travel—along with its thriving e-commerce business, retail stores, events, and health summits, Goop is a worldwide phenomenon and Gwyneth Paltrow is just getting started.

Panel Discussions

In addition to the speaker series, Brown Fashion Week’s fascinating and thought-provoking panel discussions are not to be missed:

Changemaker Fashion Designers as Translators of Culture & Ethics

March 6 at 2:00 pm ET

Join this F@B conversation with Rome-based designer Stella Jean, Brooklyn-based Fe Noel, and Detroit-based Tracy Reese who are transforming the fashion landscape each in their own way, from using fashion as a bridge and translator of culture to using it as a way to uplift exploited communities. Hear about their journeys, efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry, as well as efforts to expand sustainable design initiatives and ethical production.

Award-Winning Costume Designers Shaping Fashion in Film

March 13, 2:00 pm ET

We’ll hear from Oscar-winner Ruth Carter, six-time Emmy-winner Michele Clapton, and Emmy-nominated Heidi Bivens on their experiences within the fashion and film industries, as well as their processes, inspirations, and ambitions. Their work spans across all different genres, be it Clapton’s Game of Thrones and The Crown, Carter’s Black Panther and Malcolm X, or Heidi Bivens Mid 90s and Euphoria.

The Future of Fashion Journalism from America’s Foremost Editors

March 16, 7:30 pm ET

Join F@B for a live-streamed conversation with three of fashion journalism’s most celebrated editors and influential voices in fashion: Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic at The New York Times; Chioma Nnadi, editor of Vogue.com; and Samantha Barry, editor-in-chief of Glamour. Editorial is how we discover the latest trends, unearth new icons, and define style as we know it. The future of fashion journalism today is in flux, however, between the dilemma of reporting on fashion during a pandemic, the rise of influencer-generated content, the shift to digital platforms, and disappearance of print magazines. Friedman, Nnadi, and Barry will join us to discuss and dissect the future of fashion journalism.

Disrupting Beauty: Supermodels on Representation & Empowerment

March 17, 3:00 pm ET

This fascinating conversation will explore how modeling can influence greater societal change, how media representation can center marginalized identities in the public consciousness and how their careers have inspired them to help empower others; while their faces dominate our magazines and feeds, few are aware of their social and philanthropic work. We will hear from Jasmine Tookes, Cindy Bruna, Jasmine Sanders and Tami Williams about their inspirational journeys.

Screening & Discussion of “The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion”

March 21, 6:00 pm ET

Join F@B and the Brown Arts Initiative for a discussion with Lisa Cortés, the Academy Award-Nominated director, writer, and producer of the film, in conversation with award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen, Brown Professor of the Practice. The Remix is a story of hip hop’s influence on the fashion industry, which has led to the stratospheric and global rise of street wear. It is a story of African American creativity and limitless possibilities of this shift in culture, focusing on the journeys of fashion architect Misa Hylton, streetwear designer April Walker, as well as Dapper Dan and Kerby Jean-Raymond.

And finally, Brown Fashion Week 2021 culminates with their 11th Annual Runway Show…

The 11th Annual Runway Show on Friday, March 26 at 7:00 pm ET, presented virtually for the first time, will showcase the collections of the F@B team of twenty-six student designers from both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. The collections will be released in a high-fashion campaign film, accompanied by a virtual and print Lookbook.

To register for any and all of the aforementioned complimentary events, please click http://www.fashionatbrown.com/events for more information and registration.

Media Contact

Sasha Pinto, Fashion@Brown, +1 (609) 865-7399, SashaPinto@fashionatbrown.com

SOURCE Fashion@Brown

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Fashion

Meet the Institut Français de la Mode’s first-ever MA Fashion graduates

Emily walpole

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Meet the Institut Français de la Mode’s first-ever MA Fashion graduates

Johanna Imbach MA Collection. Image courtesy of Institut Français de la Mode.

We won’t lie; flipping the calendar page to March was a sobering moment, an unwelcome reminder that we’ve spent a whole year of our lives living through these unprecedented times. Our minds, naturally, drifted back 12 months to those pre-pandemic ‘last days of Rome’ — well, Paris, actually, where the city’s AW20 fashion week was in full swing. Meanwhile, in a neon green lightning bolt of a building on the Left Bank of the Seine, the inaugural cohort of the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM)’s spanking new MA programme had reached the halfway mark in the two-year course, cutting, draping and dreaming of their debut on the fashion world’s most prestigious stage just twelve months down the line.

You know how the story goes — a goddamn lot has happened since, and any plans that were in place then were swiftly put paid to. Still, despite the trials and turmoils that the past year has posed, the dreams of the 48 members of the IFM’ first graduating were yesterday realised, with their collections opening the AW21 Paris Fashion Week schedule. “This presentation […] is the first concrete expression of our project and our ambition,” says Xavier Romatet, the school’s dean. “It’s an opportunity to appreciate the creative level of this first graduating class of our new Master’s programme, to identify emerging talent for tomorrow and to contribute to rethinking fashion in light of the current disruptions.”

 

As you’ll see below, this fresh crop of young talent below has done a pretty good job of doing just that, presenting accomplished, thought-provoking collections even in (and in some cases as a reaction to) today’s hostile climate for fashion’s new faces. Here, seven of the graduates discuss their final collections, how they navigated the challenges of creating during the pandemic, and how the past year has shaped their perspectives on fashion.

Adam Kost

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection is a meditation on purity and smoothness; meadow and sky; moonlight during the night, sunshine during the day: things that make me feel I am part of everything and everything is part of me. What are its central themes? It’s about the eternal qualities of fashion, and how it interacts with the human body. I was trying to find a universal language, one that everybody can relate to, discussing basic topics and archetypes that are more or less the same for all of us. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? Creating during the pandemic meant creating a collection with limited resources. But this fact didn’t affect my creativity; it even forced me to dream more, be more generous, and more grateful that I still had the privilege to create garments. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? It’s taught me to question my designs much more; to ask myself if they should be made and if they are aesthetically sustainable.

Clément Picot

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection, titled “Dream Until the End”, is inspired by two of my favourite movies: American Psycho and The Shining by Stanley Kubrick. I always found that there was a kind of similarity between the two main characters. I wanted to pay tribute to these two films through a series of winks in the looks of the collection, but above all, I wanted to create my own narrative. What are its central themes? The idea was to show the evolution of a person, a transformation and descent to a hell that lies somewhere between the imaginary and the real. I tried to translate this idea through the different looks in my collection, starting with ‘the dream’, with powerful but disturbing silhouettes inspired by Patrick Bateman’s wardrobe, and the last looks ending at the border of the nightmare thanks to hybrid silhouettes inspired by Matthew Barney’s movies. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? I remember dreaming in front of Alexander McQueen’s shows more than 10 years ago — I was amazed by the beauty and the almost infinite creativity of his work, and I think this is part of a kind of magic that fashion has and must continue to have in the future. Especially in these difficult times, it is always important to keep dreaming. Fashion is an art like any other, an art that was disappearing more and more under the increasing numbers of collections, and in a world where fast fashion takes up an increasing amount of space. Nowadays, fashion exists more and more as a form of entertainment and inspiration for people who can’t leave their homes anymore, to visit an exhibition in a museum, for example. In the space of a year, fashion has really managed to carve out an important space in people’s daily lives, giving us hope for the future.

Jimin Kim

 

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection maps my symbolic journey towards finding a balance between reality and daydreaming in the process of achieving my personal goals, mixing the traditional craft of crochet with 3D technology to create silhouettes which question the real and the imagined. My real-world experience is represented by the knitted fabrics made from mohair and monofilament, while my tendency to daydream is represented through transparent 3D structures sculpted in PLA, biodegradable plastic made of corn starch. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? I’ve had a hard time during the pandemic, but, on the other hand, it has enabled me to develop new approaches that aren’t typical knit. I found the first lockdown period very hard mentally, and couldn’t do any work. Afterwards, though, I completed a 4-month innovation project called ‘Sound of Shape’. In Korea, we were able to go out relatively freely, but, as in Paris, there was limited access to knitting machines, so I had to find a new method. The project’s theme was to discover my own innovation, so I decided to make clothes through a creative new method. I researched how knitting and crochet were practised in the past, when people couldn’t use machines. Furthermore, when I searched for a new material, I came up with the idea of working with a 3D pen, and weaving the PLA plastic like a knit structure. You’re graduating at a time when conversations around race, gender, sexuality and wider issues of identity have never been more prominent in fashion. How do you position your work with respect to these conversations? I wanted to reflect on the current situation in my collection. Previously, in my Parsons MFA collection, I tried to symbolically express my experiences as a woman in Korean society and my attitude against prejudice and discrimination. Although this collection is more concentrated on my inner side, it still expresses a desire to counteract negative stereotypes about me. As a Korean, I grew up in a society that was not part of the fashion mainstream, and I’ve worked very hard to overcome the skeptical gazes of people around me — it’s an effort that continues even to this day. I hope that diversity will become more common in the fashion world, and that young designers who make new attempts to cross barriers of race and nationality will receive greater support in the mainstream.

Jisoo Baik

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection, titled ‘Personal Space’, mostly involves incorporating everyday objects that anybody can relate to in order to convey the idea of a safe space where you can be yourself. It was inspired by how individuals carry their possessions with them, each in their own way, when they walk on the street. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? The first time Paris went into lockdown, I was so panicked, I couldn’t imagine how I would develop my final collection without any fabrics and materials. The city was like a ghost town. But then I realised that I couldn’t just stop everything and worry. I just kept saying to myself, ‘I’m doing my best that I can.’ The new trials this brought were actually really freeing. Ironically, they’ve given the fashion world even greater freedom, allowing it to escape from the reliance on fashion shows, for example, something that seemed like it would never changed. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? Before I started my MA course, I was focused on finding my own voice and identity in my designs. I tried to challenge myself by using unfamiliar materials to making garments, digging deep inside myself to answer questions ‘Who am I?” and, “What do I like?”  Now, though, I’m more focused on responding to a customer’s needs, and thinking about how  I communicate with them. I’ve become much more careful about not getting stuck in my own world.

Johanna Imbach

 

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My graduate collection is a technical and creative exploration of knitwear. It is above all a collection that questions the perception of the spectator, proposing new experiences between garments and bodies. What are its central themes? I wanted to create an almost virtual vision, one of garments without any mass. My three-dimensional approach is above all a sculptural process. This allows me to create graphic and kinetic looks where the body and the garment become one, proposing a new anatomy. I wanted to present a womenswear collection that questions anatomy, perception and proportion; to question the female body and its relationship to clothing through allure and curves. Ultimately, I seek to redefine knitwear, to push it beyond the ideas that we have of knitting and its construction. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? The most difficult part of the past year has been living in uncertainty. Being a knitter, and being away from our materials and workspace, was a huge disadvantage, even though we all have domestic machines. We had to leave the workshops for 5 months, putting our minds, and our creativity, to a tough test. We also had to be understanding and responsive to government restrictions. It was a year that seemed insurmountable, but, now our collections have launched, it now feels like it passed quickly.”

Mathieu Goosse

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection, titled “I’d like to see you”, is like an image plane, a series of objects in suspension above reality. Short of breath, out of strength, stripped back to the bare essential. It revolves around the ideas of reducing, exhaustion, love, and fragility. I don’t work with mood boards of images, but with emotions, sensations, and objects that I craft and which act as starting points. What are its central themes? It’s about obsession: what fuels it, what brings it alive, and how it triggers our impulses to build and to destroy. I often work with materials I have right next to me, and I like to make them feel new and different. They are sanded, washed-out, and worn-down. There is a frailness in the razor-sharp precision of the handwork, and a roughness in the sensation of sanded silk, peeling python skin, the worn feeling of recycled denim. You’re graduating at a time when conversations around race, gender, sexuality and wider issues of identity have never been more prominent in fashion. How do you position your work with respect to these conversations? Through my choice to not work with ‘images’ and focus on the essence of elements from my personal point of view, I’m trying to build my garments as objects. Pure, detached and independent, they can speak to or touch everyone; they’re essential forms that can belong to anyone. As a menswear student, my collection was presented on boys in the show, but the garments are completely non-gendered. For me, the best way to discuss issues of diversity in my work is to reduce things to the point where they lose any socialised associations, while maintaining a strong presence. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? This year of isolation has shown me how fashion is necessary and how much it connects people. It always seems so far from everything — extreme, intense, arrogant, or from another world — but it’s so close to us all, and at all times. Garments are the first things we receive when we’re born, and we keep them with us until the end. They’re what hold us.”

Soyul Kim

How would you introduce your graduate collection? It’s about fierceness layered with softness; being playful in a cut-throat world. I was very much influenced by the inspiring women mentors I had when I started my career in NYC. When we think of ‘strong women’, we only think of their boldness. But you soon realise that they are who they are today because they were willing to fall, accept and learn from their experiences — just like a kid who’s willing to fall because they’ve learned how to pick themselves up again. And everybody has that inner kid, they’re just usually too busy ‘adulting’ through the world. What are its central themes? A central theme throughout my collection is the undeterred presence of a child living in an adult body. Using hard silhouettes like armour-shaped shoulders and hard materials like leather against soft fabrics and lace, or by crocheting structured metal thread into seemingly-fragile fabric, I wanted to express the coexistence of strength and vulnerability. There are also elements that blur the line of being a kid and being an adult, like Furby bags hanging from power suits, or a print with abstract shapes taken from Disney films. I see my collection as a balance of something rough and delicate, masculine and feminine, serious and playful – something adult-y, and youthful at the same time. You’re graduating at a time when conversations around race, gender, sexuality and wider issues of identity have never been more prominent in fashion. How do you position your work with respect to these conversations? I tend not to say it out loud, but I create to put feminine power on equal grounds with masculine power. It’s not about a competition between the genders, but rather about acknowledging underlying historical discrepancies, appreciating each other, and working towards the same goal of closing the gap. I hope to inspire other women and girls through my work – just as I have been inspired by the female mentors in life – that we should never settle for less, and that we should also not be intimidated by competition; rather, we should be inspired by it. It’s about embracing the authentic power of your inner female identity, and being true to what makes you feel comfortable.

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Adult Minnesotans rediscovered the comfort of snow pants, fashion be damned

Emily walpole

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Adult Minnesotans rediscovered the comfort of snow pants, fashion be damned

Brandt Williams of Minneapolis has spent 53 years in the Upper Midwest, but hadn’t worn snow pants since being zipped into a one-piece suit he described as “the iron maiden of clothing for children.”

Then one day last December, while shopping at Costco, Williams spotted a snow pants display. He bought a pair on a whim, thinking they’d be less hassle than adding and removing long underwear.

During the February cold snap, Williams wore his snow pants for daily walks, outdoor reporting assignments for his job with Minnesota Public Radio, or just sitting around a fire pit.

“Having this layer of protection makes you feel like you’ve somehow mastered the elements,” he said. “You have this feeling of invulnerability.”

While snowsuits and coveralls are a staple of ice fishing, snowmobiling and other outdoorsy pursuits, the pandemic has spurred more Minnesotans to join the cozy club of adults who wear the padded pants. They’re remembering childhoods spent sitting in snowbanks, undeterred by dampness or cold, and wondering why their adult selves hadn’t reembraced snow pants sooner.

For some, donning snow pants has been an act of self-care in a time when so many of the usual ways we treat ourselves — from happy hours to hitting the mall — have been curtailed.

And once they’ve crossed over to the warmer side of winter life, snow pants converts can’t stop talking about how great they are — fashion stigma be damned.

“Being warm is cool,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter how you look. And plus, they’re not bad-looking pants.”

The snow pants gospel

For Luke LeBlanc, adopting snow pants improved his outdoor experience dramatically. The 25-year-old Minneapolis singer/songwriter admits that prior apathy about winter gear meant he was constantly underdressed; his heaviest coat was a windbreaker.

This year, anticipating he’d be spending more time outdoors, Le-Blanc invested in a big, puffy jacket and a pair of waterproof snow pants.

“I don’t mean to blow it out of proportion and say it’s life-changing, but you can go and do stuff outside and not be in pain the whole entire time,” he said.

He’s hesitated to wear his snow pants when he’d like to project some semblance of style, such as at a brewery patio. And while he showed up at the outdoor photo shoot for his new album wearing snow pants, he removed them before the camera started clicking. “But the grocery store — I don’t care who sees me in snow pants,” he said.

LeBlanc has also worn his new gear on walks, to an outdoor concert, deer hunting with his dad, and tinkering on his car.

“As naive as it sounds, I didn’t realize I could be outside when it’s 10 degrees and feel like I’m walking around inside,” he said.

Now, LeBlanc regularly extols the virtues of a warm lower half.

“I’ve been preaching the snow pants gospel, and we’ll see how many converts I get,” he said.

Fueling a ‘pantsdemic’

Among Minneapolis’ biggest snow pants evangelists is Charlie McCarron, organizer of an outdoor activity club he calls “Snowpantsdemic.”

This winter, McCarron busted out a pair of snow pants he hadn’t worn since high school (“a lot of my clothes are from high school, even though I’m in my 30s,” he admitted) and invited his friends to bimonthly outings, including snow kickball, sledding, and a game he invented that’s a sort of cross between boot hockey and golf. (McCarron dabbles in board-game design alongside his work as a composer.)

While McCarron has been using snow pants to inspire his friends to embrace their inner child, Hannah Aderinkomi bought her new snow pants simply to stay as warm as her kids.

In the past, when Aderinkomi took her young children sledding, she’d add a base layer beneath her pants. The last time she wore snow pants was grade school. “It’s almost like it didn’t occur to me to buy them for myself, even though I was buying them every year for my kids,” she said.

This season was different: If she was going to fully appreciate Minnesota winter, Aderinkomi wanted to be comfortable. So she ordered a pair of snow pants online and wore them on the family’s next trip to the sledding hill. Her husband, Thompson Aderinkomi, then decided to upgrade from double-layering pants to his own pair of snow pants. Since then, the couple have been as cozy as their kids every time the family has played outside or gone snowshoeing.

“I’m always cold, so the fact it took me so long is sort of fascinating — I’ve lived here my entire adult life,” Hannah Aderinkomi admitted.

In some ways, she said, buying snow pants was an unlikely form of pandemic self-care, not so different from the services that clients of her Minneapolis laser hair removal/skin-care business use to treat themselves. “Maybe adult snow pants were just something that I did for myself,” she said.

In any case, Aderinkomi is happy to have embraced a new era of outdoor warmth. “We built a snowman the other day and I think old Hannah would have done that, too, but this Hannah was a bit more comfortable,” she said.

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