US Retail Radar: Runway report from Fall/Winter 2020 New York Fashion Week

February 17, 2020
6 min read

The 2020 fall and winter New York Fashion Week has wrapped up, unveiling fashion trends that are sure to impact consumers and retail stores. Here, we recap all the key takeaways and must-know trends for the season ahead.

Aesthetic trends: Teals, tailoring, sheer and capes

Source: Louis Vutton

In 2020, expect to see consumers looking for teals, tailoring, sheer and capes. These trends are already hitting the mainstream audience, with all four making their way off the fashion week runways and onto the Oscars Red Carpet. An early Oscar telecast this year meant an overlap with NYFW and the awards ceremony, a rare occurrence. The significance of the timing means double exposure for the many consumers who were watching the Red Carpet purchase trends from the likes of Zara and other brands and retailers.

The four common aesthetics witnessed at both events were a combination of sharp details, particularly menswear inspired tailoring and lots of capes, combined with feminine, ethereal finishes, such as sheer details and head-to-toe metallic beading. The color of the season is teal, a cross between a blue and green hue, with garments in iterations of one or a combination of both, showing up in everything from blouses to ball gowns. Designers including Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Ulla Johnson and Brandon Maxwell featured the trends in their shows, while Celine, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton dressed Oscar attendees in these trends for the red carpet.

The color choice can be attributed in part to Pantone’s Color of the Year, but its significance goes beyond that. Pantone chose a blue hue because of its calming effect and in an election year, anything calming and soothing will be welcomed. Brandon Maxwell’s finale dress, which is not a blue but rather a bold red, will be part of an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, where the designer’s show was held. The “Nature of Color” exhibit will explore the power of color in the natural and human world. The decision to feature blues for the fall season indicates the evocative and powerful role color plays in everyday decisions, including what consumers buy and wear.

Source: Carolina Herrara

Why is it important?

As more shows are live streamed on social media – and some are available for purchase almost immediately online and on social media – runway and red carpet trends will be top of mind to consumers looking for shopping inspiration as the post-holiday spending freeze begins to melt away. Many of the New York shows are designed for fall and winter, but that’s not to say consumers won’t start to seek such trends in the coming months, especially as women in particular do most of their clothes shopping in the spring and summer months, according to Mintel research on women’s clothing.

Messaging trends: Eco-friendly and inclusive

Source: Rebecca Minkoff c/o Wetherly Group

It’s not enough to simply make a fashion statement. In today’s climate, shoppers are becoming increasingly conscious and using their purchase power to support brands that align with their values. Designers and brands are using fashion to make a statement and bring their ideals to life. Designer Rebecca Minkoff, an advocate for women’s empowerment in the fashion industry and beyond, often uses her fashion week presentations as a platform for her brand’s message. This month’s presentation was no exception, with Minkoff expanding last season’s focus on the modern working women to show another dimension; this time with children’s wear. Little Minkoff is an eco-friendly line using technology to help mitigate waste and packaging and sourced from biodegradable materials. The collection is made-to-order and will be a testing ground for introducing more eco-friendly practices into Minkoff’s core collection. Little Minkoff is an opportunity for the designer to serve more of her customers’ needs by dressing the family, something reflected in the mini-me models featured throughout the presentation.

Why is it important? 

Although price is always a driving factor in purchase decisions, consumers are shopping more consciously, looking to put their money where their mouth is. As awareness of environmental issues increases, more consumers – particularly Gen Z and Millennial shoppers – will prioritize shopping sustainable brands, or those that reflect ideals they value, when and where they can. For moms, Minkoff’s collection does this while also providing convenience. Moms can make decisions they feel good about for their children, while also shopping where they shop for themselves, something certain parents see value in, according to Mintel research on children’s clothing.

Format trends: Interactive fashion continues

Source: Philip Lim via Instagram

Gone are the days of a simple runway show. Consumers want an experience in order to witness something in real life, but knowing that many are also consuming fashion shows online or through social media, designers are creating unique experiences to appeal to an audience, regardless of how they witness it. Designer Susan Alexandra staged a musical in place of a traditional fashion show, recruiting the cast and crew from Instagram. Designer Philip Lim wanted to take a different approach and invite guests to interact around his designs in person, hosting an open-house at his NYC store, where all were welcome, in place of a traditional show. Marc Jacobs closed out NYFW with a show that was anything but traditional. The show featured classic clothes ranging from essentials such as coats and underwear to evening wear on models and dancers in continuous movement.

Why is it important?

Source: WWD

Jacobs’ decision to showcase simple, versatile clothing in an anything-but type of performance art is indicative of the craving for practical, quality clothing more women are adopting without wanting to forfeit style. Designers are well aware of the fact that the fashion show audience of today is wide and inclusive of more than just the industry insiders. They’re presenting buzzworthy shows that are social media-friendly, but also encourage consumer-brand interaction, such as Lim’s open-house style. Giving consumers more opportunities to connect with brands provides a personal experience that is much appreciated in today’s digital world, where shopping can sometimes feel isolated and impersonal, according to Mintel Trend, “Social Isolation.’

Alexis DeSalva Kahler
Alexis DeSalva Kahler

Alexis is a Senior Research Analyst at Mintel. Alexis focuses on US Retail and eCommerce reports.

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