Words by Sophie Penn
Sophie is a freelance brand consultant, fashion journalist and stylist. She is a regular contributor to many of the industry’s top magazines, trend services and fashion blogs.
As retailers across the globe prepare for the high summer season, buyers prepare late summer and autumn ranges and merchandisers assess the best way to push products, Mpdclick highlights the final phase of must-haves for the remainder of spring/summer 09.
Dresses & Skirts
Structure and volume are undoubtedly the most influential silhouettes of the season; and two attributes that look set to last. Peplum, tulip, lantern and puffball skirts were all over the s/s 09 runways and are dominating the British high street already, from Primark and Topshop and through to high-end labels like Reiss; making them an essential for retailers worldwide.
The peplum skirt is undoubtedly a retail champion this season, updating the traditional mini skirt, pencil skirt or fitted dress. Women’s career collections can be brought right up to date with this flattering feature. (Mainn image – Karl Lagerfeld)
UK consumers are typically trend savvy, constantly on the lookout for something unique. The all round winner for wearability, whilst remaining on trend this season is the tulip skirt. The ‘tulip’ shape can be created simply with angled hemlines, but the very eighties-reminiscent tulip wrap around skirt or dress will make an authentic alternative. The shape can be best achieved with fabrics that create a dough like fold such as suiting with a slight stretch or even a very fine, soft suede (ideally in a neutral or earthy tone or subtle pattern).
At the more extreme end of this trend, Grace Jones-esque space age/super hero structure around the hips (as seen at Alexander Mcqueen s/s 09 and Proenza Schouler s/s 09), echoed by the use of shoulder pads (being championed at Balmain s/s 09) and strong structural sleeves (seen at Dolce and Gabbana 09, where incidentally the typically never subtle Italians even managed to work big shoulder pads into silky Noel Coward style pyjamas). As wearable styles become more widespread, high street consumers will have interest in this trend, and with the likes of Lady Gaga and Estelle bringing ‘structure’ into the public eye with a fantastic reception. To achieve this construction very stiff dress fabrics will be needed, such as satins with structural inserts like shoulder pads and boning, while intense jewel tones will complete the stand-out look.
Dolce & Gabbana
The shapes and lines in skirts this season are going to be reflected in the new jacket silhouette – making a very popular wardrobe upgrade for consumers. Buyers and merchandisers take note, in the current financial climate, customers will be looking for pieces that will go with everything and bring last season’s outfits up to date.
On the catwalks we’ve seen a lot of extreme structure in outerwear; there seems to be an abundance of severe 80s tailoring with Jerry Hall-esque styling – a trend that looks set to continue through a transition into a softer early 90s style that has been prominent in the a/w 09/10 shows (especially Louis Vuitton) - another successful theme for high street brands.
Peachy deconstructed tailoring (as seen at Stella McCartney s/s 09) and jackets with softer and more slouchy volume around the shoulders, a looser more relaxed shape with no nipped in waists and neutral or muted tones will give casual, laid back glamour – a look essential for brands and a key tool to be used in visual merchandising in-store and for window displays. Another feature of this trend, set to make it even more marketable, is the nostalgic feel about it - the trend uses authentic elements taken from the kind of clothes mothers or the glamorous, inspirational women on TV wore when the lucrative Generation Y were young, which will lend a warm likeability to this trend.
Knitwear is another wondrously versatile staple in store; in summer as a replacement for a jacket when the evenings get cooler, and is also obviously fantastic for the transitional period and winter layering (making it an investment buy, and so a top seller in today’s climate). Volume is a key look in knitwear too, and especially effective because the weight and stretch in the fabric creates a draped, fluid effect. The most popular knitwear this season is going to be that made of lighter and smoother fibres so as to create soft lines.
Harem, peg and masculine tailored trousers began as a strong catwalk trend and now it seems high street consumers are ready – use in casual, evening and office collections. Light soft, but not clingy, fabrics are best, especially for relaxed summer elegance (as demonstrated in the silky billowing trousers on the Louis Vuitton s/s 09 catwalks). Neutrals are once again the palette of choice and the one with the most longevity (as seen in the unusually muted safari elements of Emilio Pucci’s s/s 09 show). To provide a little summer escapism to your collection, and for a bolder statement amongst the sea of neutral, we’ve found ourselves looking to Jaeger’s s/s 09 collection for a Miami Vice style splash of colour.
In accessories, once again, versatile wearability is a ruling factor. An oversized day bag is an essential right now – all pointing to big slouchy neutrals again (especially as hobo bags are having a bit of a moment this year, that looks set to continue) in the softest leathers to give a luxurious feel in these frugal times.
For evening, the most popular glamour upgrade looks to be the teeny tiny moulded capsule clutch. So far, examples on the high street are quite simple, but some have embellished clasps, long chain shoulder straps and Topshop have even done a heart shaped Union Jack emblazoned version – so adding a trend accent to this style is a very successful move. Adding a feature to such a compact piece is like magnifying it, it is a very useful way of showboating any specific trend features being carried in store such as nautical symbols, florals or embellishment. We can see the capsule clutch being around for quite a while, it is understated and simple but something about carrying it feels very special (and the definite relief at the prospect of carrying something so petite after lugging around a hobo bag all day will appeal to customers).
In the eyewear department, Ray-Ban Wayfarers are still the front runners as they have a relaxed cool that is so much more relevant and desirable right now than the dramatic glamour of the 70s style oversized sunnies. Excellent news for high street brands as the Wayfarers are so easy to imitate. The Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses look set to be another staple this summer.
Actress Diane Kruger in Ray-Ban Clubmasters
As a general rule this season, pieces that add an accent or twist to an outfit are going to be very popular, leggings in an on-trend pattern under an outfit will transform it and body suits instead of tees or shirts will bring an outfit up to date, making these simpler and more basic garments an in disposable tool and fantastic sellers. Buyers and merchandisers take note of these seasonal updates. Allow key shapes to provide essential inspiration to range planning and revise high-summer collections.