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Nautical, neon and nostalgia – the Spring 2021 runway trends to back

Despite the uncertainty around the Spring 2021 shows, find out how designers went digital and the 5 runway trends retailers will be buying into next season.

With viral trends evolving from social channels, conversations around rethinking the traditional runway circuit alongside big names such as Gucci and Saint Laurent opting out, Spring 2021 was shrouded with uncertainty. Yet, the melting pot of trends at the recent shows reinforced the importance of the catwalk now more than ever. 

This season, many designers showed behind closed doors or experimented with digital innovations – something savvy retailers will invest in (like Balmain’s neon color palette, spoiler.)

runway trends
Balmain Spring 2021

Traditionally during runway season, buyers and designers spend countless hours poring over collections to identify the most successful trends to adapt to their assortments. With much international travel still halted, buying trips are paused while working-from-home makes visiting stores to comp shop and compare prices more challenging. 

At EDITED, we’re here to help you digitally plan and prepare for Spring 2021. Our in-house Analyst team reviews every look from the runway and applies their knowledge of what’s working commercially for shapes, colors, patterns, fabrics and details across core categories so you know the winners to back, without leaving home.

Get in touch for a demo on planning next season’s assortment and keep reading for the analytics-approved trends to range.

Vintage femme

Cottagecore grew up and got a refined makeover with the influence of 50s and 60s-inspired silhouettes clocked at Fendi, Genny and Batsheva. Adding to the reasons why the house dress isn’t going anywhere, smocked dresses in modest, roomy silhouettes adorned in vintage florals stood out at Anna Sui’s Virgin Suicides-inspired digital collection among others. 

Gingham checks, Broderie Anglaise and pastel hues also lent themselves to the traditionally ladylike aesthetic. Girly accessories and footwear were interpreted through Mary Janes, headscarves, gloves and pearl jewelry. 
This aesthetic adds longevity to the oversized collar trend already bubbling up in the mass market with & Other Stories, Topshop, Zara and H&M all including it in their fall ranges.

Minimalism vs. maximalism

Spring 2021 presented a juxtaposition of minimalism and maximalism, drawing parallels to the current climate. Designers favored simple, pared-back looks popularized in post-recession dressing or bold OTT styles to evoke joy and optimism during uncertain times. 

Clean silhouettes were commonplace at Milan with the likes of Valentino, Salvatore Ferragamo and BOSS showcasing square neck tops and dresses. Head-to-toe neutrals complimented contemporary tailoring with the workleisure wardrobe presented through oversized blazers and waistcoats with billowing high-waist trousers. Natural, raw textures were a standout fabric for this trend, seen via linen-like all-in-ones, co-ords and maxi dresses. Leather sandals, gathered ballet flats and heeled flip-flops were among the premium footwear trends offered.

On the other side of the coin, a joyous and uplifting message was communicated through blown-out silhouettes and fun clashing prints. Voluminous shapes continued to dominate catwalks with texture and drama built up through puffy tulles and feathers, while plissé and chunky knits added volume to sleeves. For accessories, making a bold statement over Zoom meetings is set to continue with chunky chain-link necklaces and jeweled drop earrings showcased. Nautical prints were a standout thanks to Versace’s underwater show with neon starfishes and shell motifs conjuring up a sense of escapism. 

Noughties nostalgia

Nostalgic influences were ever-present with the 00s emerging as a key era across cities. The mood was set through cowl necklines, cropped tops, mini bags and dresses, sheer fabrications and platform shoes. Animal print made up of 9% of fall 2020 arrivals. For retailers who missed the boat, there is still time – zebra, leopard, tiger, cow, snake and crocodile were all present in Spring 2021. 

While loungewear continues its reign, denim was still important on the runway. Look to the noughties to refresh your jean buys with straight and wide-leg styles including frayed hems and patchwork denim as seen at Dolce & Gabbana and Phillip Plein for a more directional nod to the trend.

Positive palettes

Underpinning maximalism and nostalgic themes, the runway was illuminated by the power of color acting as an antidote to the bleak year. Strong blues were of note at Kenzo and Longchamp while Balmain showcased vibrant neon pink and green suiting. Highlighter hues also cropped up at Mark Fast and Sportsmax through co-ords and footwear and on graphics at Chanel. All-over citrus was favored by Ricostru and Harlem’s Fashion Row, while Tom Ford and Prada embraced luxurious jewel tones. 

Check out how the Spring 2021 color palettes boiled down:

The primary palette shows every instance of color on the Spring 2021 runways, while the secondary palette shows the key color stories within.

Our image recognition software detects the color of every product online so retailers have full visibility of the seasonal hues to invest in. Reach out to see our color wheel in action.

Lounge and homewear

In retail, the drop in temperature has seen new loungewear flood the market once more with comfort dressing showing no signs of slowing down. 

runway trends

Luxury designers are also doubling down on loungewear for Spring 2021. Co-ords and sweatsuit sets emerged as a must-have for new season buys in soft-touch fabrics, while short knitted rompers provide a more trend-led offer. These items are where a more muted color palette comes to play with neutral, pink and pastel shades in focus 

Expanding on this trend, homewear was equally important for an elevated spin on loungewear. This serves as another avenue to promote the house dress alongside silk pajama sets that can double as day or nightwear.

Comfort continues to play a core role in footwear trends too with consumers at home. This was reflected on the runway through sliders, classic white sneakers and sports-inspired sandals. Fluffy slippers were also of note at Balenciaga and through Molly Goddard’s collaboration with Ugg. 

Fashion’s new format

The disruption of COVID-19 on the traditional runway circuit meant designers needed to be innovative and rethink ways to show new season collections with hygiene and safety measures front of mind. 

Got EDITED access? Log in to read our picks for the Top 10 Spring 2021 Video Presentations.

Jeremy Scott curated a socially distanced puppet show with dolls replacing models and attendees for Moschino’s Spring 2021 collection. Miniature versions of each of the looks were flipped inside out to reveal each garment’s inner workings with the seams and trims on display as the dolls paraded past marionette versions of Edward Enninful and Anna Wintour.

runway trends
Moschino Spring 2021

At Balmain, Olivier Rousteing made sure his show wasn’t without the usual A-list suspects in attendance by partnering with LG to create a digital FROW experience. VIPs such as J.Lo, Megan Thee Stallion and, of course, Anna Wintour appeared on individual TV screens as they dialed in digitally. 

runway trends
Balmain Spring 2021

With sustainability a top priority for the industry, digital showings are looked upon favorably. However, if this is the new normal, how can designers stand out from the crowd? Coinciding with fashion week, Rihanna’s latest Savage x Fenty fashion show is being coined as the best practice playbook. Bringing the drama and experience, the show that aired on Amazon Prime on Oct 2nd generated just as much buzz as any luxury designer presenting in Spring 2021, if not more. Featuring live music acts and casting a line up of LGBTQ+ models alongside celebrities and dancers spanning all body shapes and sizes, Savage x Fenty was more than a runway. It was an event that set a new precedent for the future of fashion shows.  

For full coverage and analysis on Spring Summer 2021 runway shows, log in to read our  Womenswear: Spring 2021 Cheat Sheet.

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