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SS 2021: Runway Top Fabrics

What can fabrics tell us during a pandemic? How can they help us to cope with this time of crisis?

The SS21 fashion shows, the first collections created during the Covid-outbreak, have put some innovative materials into the spotlight. With lifestyles becoming even more fluid and lockdowns turning the home into a hub for work, work-out, social-life and entertainment, comfort has become one of the key drivers for the material choices of this Spring/Summer 2021 season. A visible value shift has made well-being and health a top-priority and put human at the center of conversations again. This intensified relationship of people with touch and the sensation of materiality on the skin and of the skin itself, has increased the focus on soft-touch and comfortable material. 

The intensified relationship of people with touch and the sensation of materiality on the skin and of the skin itself, has increased the use of textured materials. Fabrics are rendered more human and turned into something visually haptic. This visually haptic character addresses the current health-related fear of touch and a generally increasing contactless and touch-less world. Updated textured fabrics range from handmade artistry to fibers with purposeful imperfections. Such unique fabric qualities are generating a poetic sentiment. A textured fabric narrative is a great possibility to update your best-sellers and create a more sensitive dialogue with the costumer. 

If we look at the runways, we can also witness a growing consciousness about the planet and a strong focus on nature. This ecologically-aware mindset has increased designers’ use of sustainable materials and pushed creativity towards low-waist fabric solutions. May it be in sourcing more sustainable textiles or taking innovative up-cycling approaches, the dialogue on resourcefulness has been accelerated and turned good-will into action. We could see Balenciaga proposing a collection with more than 90% of plain materials being certified as sustainable or up-cycled. Acne Studios repurposed its deadstock-materials for the collection, while Maison Margiela reworked genuine vintage pieces into limited-edition products. Patchwork, Craft and Raw materials are also centric part for the conversation on textiles for SS21. 

Which fabrics will be relevant next summer?

Materials and textiles touch our skin, they give us comfort and protection. During this pandemic, these keywords have become increasingly important. Designers have been challenged to create garments that are not only comfortable and adaptable to our new fluid lifestyles, but to capture the sentiments facing this crisis as well. 

Knits

930
+4%

VS SS20

Sheer

733
+4%

VS SS20

Leather

500
-1%

VS SS20

Sparkle & Shine

463
+5%

VS SS20

Crafted

340
+70%

VS SS20

Patchwork

193
+159%

VS SS20

Shiny Satin

190
+9%

VS SS20

Raw

162
+40%

VS SS20

Fishnet

53
+92%

VS SS20

Fashion Week data on top fabrics

The trends are organized in number of outfits, represented by the number on the left. If you want to analyse them by index of growth versus SS20, refer to the number on the right. In the middle the graphic represent the evolution of the trend over the last three seasons.

We can see, that important shifts and attitudes towards materials and sourcing are taking place. Demanding comfort, it comes as no surprise, that knit was the most represented material on the runways. Sheer fabrics continued to rise, revealing the skin of the body while we have to be covering our face on the streets and are unable to touch each other. With leather, making up 500 looks, a timeless and reassuring material continues to be a solid bet for the next Spring/Summer season. 

Nature focused materials like large fishnets, raw and crafted materials are omnipresent and document human’s returned focus on the planet and nature. Linked to this craft and artisanal spirit, patchwork-themes have been introduced to the runways and augmented by exceptional 159% compared to SS20. Opposed to these more traditional and nature-centered textiles, shiny satins and metallic sparkle are taking clothes into new realities and dreams of brighter days.