By Tyehimba Turner
As winter slowly transitions to fall, New York Fashion Week kicks into full gear. This spring, women’s fashion trends lean toward the cautiously creative. Many influential designers have relinquished control of their houses and the passing of the late, great Oscar de La Renta left a gaping hole in the American fashion scene. Now, young and lesser-known designers such as Peter Copping are inheriting those houses and the enormous burden of expectations that come with them.
This spring, fashion has taken an architectural turn with an emphasis being placed on sharp cuts and intersecting lines. Designers have diluted this tailored aesthetic by adding details such as fringe and tassels. In this way, artists can experiment with looks that are more gender neutral without alienating their primary consumer base. Textiles range from the fluidly transparent to the softly textured and most frequently come in neutrals or subdued pastel colors. Quite a few designers have chosen to release collections that feature unfinished and abstracted floral prints, though even these are not nearly as bright as those of seasons past.
Street fashion designers have been much bolder in experimenting with concepts of gender or lack thereof. Notably, Kanye West’s 2015 collaboration with Adidas contained many pieces that could be worn by men or women. Other street and sport brands such as Supreme have drawn on protest art to inspire their collections. The influence of feminism on street fashion, and the entire fashion industry, have been far-reaching. It is cool to be feminist and many designers are injecting that attitude into their collections. Magazines like Rookie and Vagenda are becoming increasingly popular as designers market their products to teenage girls.
Perhaps even more interesting is how feminism has affected men’s fashion. Male-oriented brands have transitioned from sharply tailored variations on the suit to more casual, relaxed looks. Tailoring has become softer, with fabrics such as cotton and silk being used for trousers instead of the traditional wool. Features like Dolman sleeves, cinched waists and dropped-crotch pants were seen on runways in both New York and Paris. The ubiquitous bearded hipster look has given rise to a more multidimensional definition of masculinity, as the societal pressures placed on both women and men slowly evolve. Colors such as pastel blue and pink are now viewed as acceptable for men.
Notably, fashion continues to become more commercialized as consumers continue to grow impatient with obstacles like shipping and handling. Many new fashion companies have created mobile-only platforms where consumers can buy clothes directly from their phones or laptop computers. In the next three years, services like same-day delivery and free live streaming of fashion shows will become the norm as modern consumers desire instant gratification.
However, not all of spring 2015 has been purely architectural. This approach is facilitated by the wavering strength of the global economy and the desires of designers to return to the days when money flowed freely. Overall, designers seem be cultivating a message of hope in light of the rapidly fluctuating global economy. There is always hope. As long as there are people there will be clothes.