Remember the “stuff” scene from the movie “Devil Wears Prada”?
What does the video clip tell you?
Just one thing !
“History is important and so are your clothes.”
Fashion can be trendy or classic but never stagnant. Its ever evolving, ever changing to give us a glimpse of what is going on in the world in and around us. Why do you think the 90’s chokers made a comeback? Why did the punk trends of the 70’s return to the ramps? How did the vintage florals of the 60’s bombard every designer’s spring summer collection? These aren’t mere coincidences! It’s a science.
Today fashion trends are not just defined by the fashion forecasters. Trends are the products of careful calculations that takes place from forecasting, manufacturing to production at different levels of fashion industry. It is unlike the yesteryears when trends originated from individual choices; think of Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress and Madonna’s costume couture.
Fashion does not exist independently. It’s history is entwined with art, culture, industrial and social change of that decade. Whether it’s a shift in social and political scenarios or emergence of art movements, pop-culture or technological innovations, fashion has always emerged as a story teller of that time.
Sohiny Das, Co-Founder of Grain Fashion Consultancy throws light on the influence of pop culture on fashion as she shares “I find the shifting definitions of ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative’ fascinating. What is alternative at one point of time becomes mainstream in another era. And cult becomes pop-culture. Conversations in fashion which were in the fringes and side-lines in the past decades are now on center stage. We are talking about gender-less fashion, non-binary identities, size-free bodies and broadening standards of beauty.”
Remember how Jesminder’s mother in the British- Indian film Bend It Like Beckham comments on her skin tone saying “Look how dark you’ve become from playing football in the sun all day!” It has always been too difficult for people and brands to understand that your skin tone has to do with which side of the equator you fall in and nothing else. Brands, Indian or foreign have always counted on skin diversity to market their products. India’s age-old beauty brand “Fair and Lovely” was forced to change its name to “Glow and Lovely” after the debate on racial remarks hyped. Now is the time to embrace skin-tone diversity.
On embracing the skin-tone diversity, Sohiny added saying “The biggest jolt that the Indian fashion and beauty industry has felt in the past few weeks is the re-branding of ‘Fair and Lovely’ – an iconic player in the Indian market that has set the bar of domestic pop-culture for decades. This change was long overdue; it shows that pop-culture needs to be a reflection of the current mindset.”
Giving you insights on the changing paradigms of fashion, Ciceroni traces its evolution in the last 20 years.
2000-2010: Years of Pop stars, Film Icons and Television Series
In countless ways, the decade (2000-2010) was a time when celebrity obsession peaked. People were obsessed with TV shows, pop stars and embellished outfits with music icons like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Shakira, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lopez replacing models and becoming trend setters.
Movies and shows like Friends, Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada that are watched even today, strongly influenced fashion trends back then.
Also, Disney stars like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers were popular among the teenagers.
The fashion scenario in the early 2000’s was reminiscent of the late 90’s in many ways. The beginning of the decade was all about crop tops, low waist denims, skirts and shorts, halter neck tops, bandeaus in tropical prints, asymmetrical tops and maxi skirts in paisley prints.
If you were a Gossip Girl fan, you definitely would have owned at least one pair of low rise capri jeans that looked like Leighton Meester’s.
The ruched tops and stretchy dresses were everywhere ever since Blake Lively wore to the Teen Choice Awards in 2005.
The tube tops were flaunted by almost every skinny girl who wanted to flash the belly- button ring or show off shoulders and collarbones.
The leggings that we so admirably associate with the so called “athleisure fashion” were back then worn as pants with almost anything and everything – tunics, dresses and crop tops.
Cropped Cardigans were considered as perfect layering pieces and Sarah Jessica Parker managed to rock it like a diva while filming Sex and the City in 2003.
2010 – 2020: Years of Social Media, Technology, Gender Neutral Fashion and Sustainability
Known to be the years of transformation for the fashion world, the time period from 2010 – 2020 saw the advent of social media, influencers, artificial intelligence and a new wave of sustainability.
The decade began by saying goodbye to formal wear and welcomed athleisure fashion. Fashion got casual in the 2010’s. With the explosion of social media platforms, a relaxed culture gained popularity, paving way to the decade’s most comfortable fashion trend. The customized and stylized workout gear broke the boundaries of gyms as they evolved with higher quality fabrics, vibrant colours and graphic prints.
From blogs to Instagram feeds to fashion weeks, street style gained popularity among the influencers ; this in turn gave rise to the new breed of street style fashion photographers and gave fashionistas a new genre to shop. The mainstream brands, luxury power houses and shoe brands took note of it and made streetwear more popular at fashion weeks majorly in the form of crop tops, joggers, fanny packs and sneakers.
The much awaited movement for inclusivity and diversity had a huge effect on the fashion industry and led designers and brands across the world to design clothing for people of all sizes and age without being biased. The fashion weeks and couture houses also opened doors for plus size fashion.
Style is not measured in inches? Is it? The Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festival paved way for India’s first plus size fashion when Shilpa Chavan of Little Shilpa walked the ramp for clothing brand aLL – The Plus Size Store.
Bridal designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee celebrated plus – size fashion in his spring/summer 2020 collection campaign making it a part of the wider movement in Indian fashion in order to make it more inclusive in terms of size and skin tone.
The boom of technology saw the rise of artificial intelligence that made it easier for the brands to reach out to the consumers irrespective of their geographical locations and cultural barriers. In its annual survey of the $3 trillion fashion industry, consulting firm McKinsey predicted that AI would increasingly influence the business of everything from design to manufacturing going forward.
In last two years, robots have taken over the influencer marketing game internationally in fashion. Shudu, the model behind the page @shudu.gram is being called one of the most beautiful models on Instagram with 197K followers.
On the other hand, Miquela Sousa is an influencer like any other, except for one big difference – she’s a virtual avatar that exists only online. She rocks Supreme, Prada and Chanel, and attends exclusive events with other influencers. With 1.8 million followers, Miquela even receives freebies from brands for her influence.
Adding to the change that defined the ramps at fashion weeks, collections of designers and brands and colours that WGSN popularised, Sohiny enunciates that “Fashion is a form of expression and storytelling, which are pillars of the arts. The biggest star of fashion in the last two decades has been social media. It has changed everything, created new icons, shaken the foundation of old establishments and pushed fashion from being ‘exclusive’ towards becoming ‘inclusive’. It has shrunk the globe onto a palmtop device and we can access style from any part of the world, sitting in our homes. Social media has changed the way we think, act, design and style. It is the lifeblood of 21st century fashion.”
The wave of sustainability on the other hand, is a topic still debated and discussed across the world and it will continue as leaders, politicians, environmentalists and fashion proponents continue to redefine fashion in order to save the planet and make it greener and pollution free. The rise in this movement has seen fast- fashion brands struggle with the mass-produced catalogue and dwindling consumer base, forcing them to embrace sustainable fashion. On the other hand there is a clarion call from the PM’s office to support local crafts, local labels and all things Swadeshi.
In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Vocal for Local” campaign, Rebecca Reubens, Founder and Principal Designer – Rhizome and Baka Jewellery highlights the importance of local crafts and sustainability as she remarks, “Craft is important to sustainability because its local. The income which you earn for local production stays in the local economy. Also, the crafts people have a livelihood owing to crafts. If they don’t earn enough money through craft skills, they distress-migrate. When industrialization happened, people started shifting to ready-made industrialized products; thus, craft people’s work decreased. When they don’t have scope of livelihood, they migrate. Not because they want to, but because they have no other prospects.”
Check out Sohiny’s styling tips for inspiration on acing retro fashion in 2020!
The next time you buy an outfit, do not forget to delve into its emergence! That way you will know how to embrace the cycle of fashion without being too cynical about it.