Fashion - for the most part - is pretty good at reading the room. People often ask how trends are born? Why do so many collections, say, follow similar threads in one season? (Who could forget Star Wars mania in 2018, after the release of The Last Jedi; futuristic references reverberated across runway, after runway). The answer is simple: because designers are living and experiencing the same things as you. Which leads us to the present moment. Winter 2020: A Mood.
With the backdrop of a global pandemic, more impending lockdown restrictions, the state of the world seems, well…pretty bleak. Sure, our Instagram feeds may say otherwise, but for the most part a lot of us are feeling displaced, distressed and downright despairing.
And so, to paraphrase a James Taylor lyric; when you're down and troubled, and you need some love and care, and nothing, nothing is going right…we look to comfort. Reassurance. Support. Whether consciously or not, we seek a sartorial safety blanket to protect us.
Pleasingly, oversized ‘blanket’ overcoats or duvet-style down puffas are big news, coinciding with the fact that one is forcibly having to embrace alfresco living more than they normally would during the colder months. OK, for some, duvet dressing may not sound the most aesthetically appealing option. The haute makeover? Whack on a sneaky logo on the left breast and Cinderella shall go to the outdoor ball in her stylish bedleisure (this season’s answer to athleisure, of course).
See Moncler for an ultra-feminine take or support Arket’s upcycled down project that comes in some timeless shapes and hues. Alternatively, Gabriela Hearst’s fringed cashmere shawl isn’t too distant a relative to your beloved ‘Slanket.’
Next stop: footwear. Which always marks the start of a new season for me. Whether it’s a pair of shiny chunky boots, that will eventually stop tearing the summer’s nubile skin off the back of my heels, or a pair of the latest sneaker collab from Nike, to replace my Chuck Taylor’s I fucked up going in the sea on my summer holiday.
And while the state of the world may feel uncertain, it’s important to give ourselves the credit we deserve, simply for getting through 2020 (yup, it’s nearly November, folks). Give yourself the highest accolade, in wearable form, because gold is back, baby. Big time. Bottega Veneta, Celine and MSGM all showed an array of full-on gold looks in February. And well, it’s never not fun to dress up as an Oscar statue IMHO.
So, as far as fashion’s ability to read the room? It’s ticking the boxes, giving us all some much-needed hibernation haute couture realness. Like a long warm hug from a friend (when such acts weren’t illegal). Though, Bojo cannot impose a two-metre rule between us and our favourite chunky knit. Oh no.
And, if there was ever a question that this season’s It pieces were inspired by the place we are so destined to spend the majority of our time? The sofa. Then look no further than the amount of leather in the stores right now.
From real to ‘vegan’ there is a whole plethora of dresses, trenches, trousers and jumpsuits to give you the ultimate #twinning Instagram post when it’s just you, in lockdown, with no one but your décor for company. Whilst giving those sporadic commutes and rare glimpses of the outside world the clear message that no, you are indeed not to be fucked with today.
We round up proceedings with the ultimate sartorial symbol for the collective conscious. The elasticated waist. Dependable, supportive and forgiving. Because, lord knows we are all in need of a little more self-forgiveness right now. In fashion speak, nothing could do that better than the dream scenario of turning ones back on the restrictive, tailored waist. Can you remember the last time you actually chose to wear jeans? Nope, me neither.
Sweatpants, specifically, seem to be the perfect metaphor for the times we’re experiencing. I evade using the term “living in,” - as are we actually living right now?! - and offer those base level needs of support and comfort, while reaffirming a sense of understanding that says, “sure, you may struggle with a fixed waist band right now but hey, I got you.”
Two places to looks for this particular brand of forgiveness right now would be Entire World and Pangea. Two brands who both have a firm focus on ethically sourced and manufactured everyday casual pieces with real life and genuinely effective sustainability missions front and centre. Pangea will plant a mangrove tree for every item sold while Scott Sternberg’s (previously of Band of Outsiders) Entire World uses pre-consumer recycled cotton.
If until now, you have lived your life by the rules of Karl Lagerfeld, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat, you lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants,” then perhaps it’s time we reframed that term “defeat.” Realising that we haven’t actually lost control of anything. In dressing to claw back some much-needed comfort in our lives, Monsieur Lagerfeld, we are in fact taking it back.
One elasticated waistband at a time.