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Fashion(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2007)

Future Fads



Fashion never stands still, so keeping ahead of the next hot trend can mean the difference between profit or loss for suppliers and buyers

The styles of tomorrow will reflect a variety of sensibilities as fashion continues to refresh and re-invent itself, according to leading London-based online fashion trend analyst WGSN.

The colour palette for autumn/winter 07/08 will encompass yellow to blue and purple to orange/red and the new neutrals of mustard, camel and wolf grey.

"It's going to be a very colourful autumn/winter," predicted WGSN's Creative and Editorial Director Barbara Kennington, who unveiled the company's Global Retail Update and Fashion Trends Analysis-from Close-to-Season to Autumn/Winter 2008/2009 at Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2008.

"Yellow continues to make an important fashion statement," she said, and added that lawn green and malachite would make their mark in the coming season on items like mohair coats and satin shifts.

Intense blue would also be popular, along with cerulean blue, ultramarine and midnight blue. "Ultra-violet and intense shades of purple will work well with key accent colours for party pieces and sport separates, along with amethyst," Ms Kennington said. "Garnet is a key direction for party wear."

Vivid marigold will make its presence felt in the orange/red colour tones as an accent in knitwear and dresses, deep burgundy will impart a subtle "retro" feel, and hot pink and modernist orange will complement grey and black, while vivid scarlet will work across all product areas.

The "1940s femme fatale" look was one of several design themes that Ms Kennington said would predominate in the upcoming season, with colours featuring warm mid-tones - including the new neutrals - enlivened by ginger red.

Silk crepe evening dresses, cropped cardigans, pencil skirts and graphic prints inspired by Art Deco motifs are among the 1940s' characteristic styles, complemented by strong shapes and bold designs.

"The strong female mood mixes with 1940s' military-influenced shapes, such as shearling flight jackets," Ms Kennington noted, and anticipated that plaid coats would be a hot new direction for outerwear.

Another trend was the "young sophisticate", with its clean palette of black, smoke and vanilla energised by ruby and violet.

"The new silhouette is long and lean, with minimal detailing, and the style is influenced by the languid elegance of the 1920s," she said, and predicted georgette flapper dresses, tailored dress shorts and mid-length wrap coats.

By contrast, the rich textural prints, delicate pleats and gathered effects of the "fairytale folk" look inspire an ethereal mood. Deep, bright colours accent tones of mushroom, smoke grey and chalk, while prints feature edged and blurred silhouettes, landscapes and woodland scenes.

"Jewelled necklines, trompe l'oeil neckline effects and heavily encrusted collars are the hot new embellishment direction for day and evening," Ms Kennington continued.

History buffs will appreciate fashion's "medieval" trend and its rich Renaissance colours softened by warm whites in wool capes, knitted dresses and cropped quilted jackets.

Metallics are softer, and include burnished bronzes and pewter tones, while prints and patterns are highly decorative, with fabrics that include plush velvets, brocades, high-shine leathers and synthetics to modernise the look.

Bulky knits will feature complex cables for a chain mail effect, as well as heavy metal hardware and leather trim. Her fashion flash: "Biker jackets reworked with new metallic leather finishes, soft silhouettes and leather."

The "future sport" trend focuses on form-fitting, body-conscious lines to create a modern, youthful look, particularly in reworked sweatshirts and hooded tops, with neon pink, day-glow lime and ultra-violet standing out against grey.

Patterns using fragmented blocks of colour, tonal grey and black accents will offer more style potential in knitted dresses, horizontal knitted sweaters, quilted puffa jackets and ovoid coats. Fashion flash: "We'll see puffa jackets in an updated quilted pattern, with satin, leather and metallic brocade to update the style."

Finally, "ethnic/eclectic" features military-inspired neutrals accented with cobalt blue, scarlet and ochre yellow. "The key to creating this look is a confident mixing of prints and patterns - a mixed-up multicultural look."

Surface decoration and embellishment will be key, with brass buttons, toggles and epaulettes among the decorative details. "The hot fabric is velvet," Ms Kennington said. "Plush velvet is perfect for updating smocks, pinafores, casual jackets and party pieces."

Looking to Spring/Summer 2008, she outlined a range of exciting fashion possibilities, with prognostications ranging from "functional glamour" to "avant-garde pretty" to "body mapping" and "otherworldly".

Sports-influenced and sensual, "functional glamour" combines function with beauty and comfort, and relies on sensual, luxurious fabrics.

"Avant-garde pretty" creates a "seductively subtle yet charming mismatch of prettiness with edge", while "body mapping" describes richly organic and natural garments that closely follow the body's sinuous lines.

"Otherwordly" refers to awe-inspiring designs based on erotic, organic structures. "It's an exotic take on urban designs, revealing nature's strange and savage beauty," Ms Kennington said.

Other trends for Spring/Summer 2008 showcase a "decadent attitude", which alludes to an overall atmosphere of decadent theatricality. "It's creating new textile dynamics - pop culture meets techno-trash," she observed.

"Tailoring revisited" is a nod towards tailoring with avant-garde elements.

"There is precision cutting with origami-like forms," Ms Kennington noted. "The styling is energised and goes into overdrive by mixing tailoring with unexpected silhouettes."

Taking an even longer view, she cited four upcoming trends for 2008/09 - "new frontiers", "curated", "elusive" and "disturbed", with the first about rebelling against the mainstream and embracing change. "Space remains the ultimate new frontier," she said.

The "curated" trend examines materialism versus social responsibility. "Sustainable businesses will nudge us towards more responsible choices," Ms Kennington maintained.

"Elusive" focuses on transience and exploration in relation to the unpredictable forces of nature, while "disturbed" ventures into an "off-kilter world that is strange and unapologetic".

She finished by talking about three inspiring new trends, the first of which is "techno-intimacy" - an effort to design new products around human interaction such as a shirt with sensors that actually hug the wearer.

The second is re-evaluating mankind's relationship with nature, through "desert art" that reflects the beauty of the world's great landscapes.

"The last is an attempt to soften and humanise objects by wrapping subway railings and other mundane items with 'knitted tags', essentially using brightly-coloured yarns to brighten and decorate things that people otherwise take for granted," Ms Kennington concluded.