Sue Evans is the Senior Editor, Catwalks at WGSN – the global leader in fashion and style forecasting. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, Sue had a long distinguished career in trend forecasting and fashion consultancy, working with international retailers and manufacturers including Onward Kashiyama, Isetan, Bloomingdale’s, Coca-Cola, Shiseido and Arcadia. Sue has been with WGSN since its launch in 1998 and was instrumental in creating the Catwalks, What’s in Store and Close-to-Season directories.
There are three strong key messages underscoring the trends for autumn/winter 11/12. One of the most important is the fact that fashion is slowing down and trends are taking far longer to evolve and peak with retailers and manufacturers working to longer lead times in deference to the slowdown in consumer spending. We can also expect to see a growing confidence in the use of colour, evolving from the riot of summer brights currently on the high street. The final key message directing trends for next winter is the continuing fascination with all things vintage as catwalk designers looked to the last century’s fashion archive for inspiration.
Colour will certainly help drive the market with an unusually colourful winter palette bringing a sense of newness to established best sellers – especially in the area of outerwear and accessories. We are seeing 3 distinct palettes emerge; the rich autumnal brights, which revolve around intense saturated colours like marigold, cognac brown, grenadine and cool mallard greens; a range of graphic pop brights centred around vivid orange, Kelly green, vermillion, cobalt blue and sunshine yellow; and to add a quiet note of contrast, the luxe neutrals — black and winter white, camel, grey and blush.
There are strong fabric directions for next season too, with an accent on the importance of wool, from the soft weightless luxury of cashmere to lofty mohairs or plush-touch brushed finishes, and of course brightly coloured checks and traditional tweeds. Designers continued to opt for the luxe touch of furs, from curly shearlings to the drama of vintage-style long-haired goat or Mongolian lamb, as well as brightly coloured furs such as fox – all highly applicable for development for the more commercial aspects of faux furs. The tactile feel continues with plush velvet – particularly strong for accessories — and don’t underestimate the importance of recoloured suede for everything from dresses to skirts and casual tops and of course for footwear and bags. Expect to see lace evolve for another season, recoloured in the season’s fashion colours and in heavier weights like guipure, while sequins add a touch of glamour for party and evening.
Country themes come into play for print and pattern with an emphasis on richly coloured bird prints, autumnal foliage and the continuation of florals, contrasted with the more graphic qualities of winter stripes, chevrons and bold colour blocking. Other key print directions include colourful Paisleys, scrolling Baroque imagery and snakeskin – a really key pattern trend for accessories.
Those are all the building blocks for the season ahead and we can expect to see them translated into the season’s key looks which draw on the early 70s, the pop 60s, 50s collegiate -‘varsity looks and the cinematic 40s for inspiration. Overall silhouettes are for longer midi skirt lengths, the continuation of wide 70s pants, graphic coat shapes, cropped jackets to balance those fuller bottomweights, androgynous tuxedo dressing and simple shift dresses, all worn with high block heeled loafers, high-heeled Chelsea boots, 40s-style wedges and boxy 70s bag shapes.