As the new season begins, fashions from New York, London, Paris and Milan will appear in boutiques around the world. Despite globalisation, different markets still have diverse tastes and demands. Here, buyers, boutique owners and taste makers reveal how their local markets will interpret this season’s trends.
“You would think Dallas was all about glitzy, over-the-top clothes,” says Valerie Steele, museum director at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, “but you would be surprised. Even someone as sophisticated and avant-garde as Comme des Garçons sells quite well in Dallas.”
The 1980s TV show may have given the city an association with glamourous society events, but customers are eager to embrace cutting-edge Paris fashion. For autumn, Brian Bolke, owner of trendy boutique Forty Five Ten on McKinney Avenue, sees a return to delicately crafted clothes with a focus on structure rather than richly embellished surfaces.
“I think we are all having a bit of a Céline moment,” he says. “It makes you feel good, but it doesn’t scream, and the longer skirt length is the trend we think will hit it here.”
Céline’s tiered dress in burgundy crêpe and leather has a hemline just below the knee, quite a bit longer than the skirts seen in previous collections. And there is a waiting list for the French label’s sought-after Phantom bag in stamped black croc, sold at $2,300.
The new restrained, grown-up mood is dubbed “lady chic” by Ken Downing, senior vice-president and fashion director at retailer Neiman Marcus, which has a branch in Dallas. He sees pencil skirts as a wardrobe essential this autumn. “They bring a sexy attitude to the dressed-up approach,” he says.
Lady chic also reverberates through China’s fashion world. Nicoletta Santoro of Vogue China notes: “What [Chinese] shops are buying, what they think is appropriate for the public is different from the pieces you see in New York. It is kind of girly and it shows the value of the clothes.”
But tastes are changing: while consumers have favoured feminine clothes that are not too revealing, they are also increasingly receptive to darker, more challenging styles. At Vogue China, (now second in Vogue’s ad revenue league, after the US version), a key theme is a nod to fetish and hidden desire.
Andy Cheng, men’s wear manager at Lane Crawford, a retailer in Beijing that operates from Hong Kong, says “Chinese people need a bit more time to understand themselves and develop a feeling for a style that suits them.” According to Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons, however: “The Chinese audience is much quicker in accepting and embracing new ideas than we imagined.”
Dimitri Elfes of new boutique On Pedder spots a trend for fur, not just on mink coats but perhaps worked into a youthful baseball jacket in black beaver from Givenchy. On Pedder will stock the crème de la crème of fashion’s avant-garde, including Azzedine Alaïa, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Haider Ackermann and Rick Owens.
Elfes expects the dramatic aesthetic showcased by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen to catch on: “The box clutches with skull detail will no doubt translate well,” he says. “The thigh-high lace-up boots featured in the runway collection are very directional and I find customers interested in this particular look.”
While the longer skirt length isn’t attracting much attention in India, lace mania has caught on. It’s been spotted on Bollywood stars such as Sushmita Sen, who frequently chooses lace outfits over silk gowns. Anaita Shroff Adajania, fashion director of Vogue India, confirms the preference for lacy looks, ruffled fringes and a general attraction to lingerie-inspired pieces such as a lace-framed V-neck top in midnight blue from Dior’s autumn collection.
Indian women also like to experiment, to wear colourful accessories with traditional saris. Hermès will acknowledge this by releasing its iconic La Danse du Cheval Marwari scarf in a bright fuchsia for the opening of its store in Mumbai, its third in India, early in October.
“There is this idea that Indian women only wear Indian clothes. That is untrue,” says Charu Sachdev, founder and chief executive of TSG International Marketing, which owns the Kitsch boutique in Mumbai, a pioneer in introducing international designer brands to India. “Kitsch has shown that if selected properly, western fashion is more than accepted ... but people like to make the style their own.”
Monica Narula, a member of the Raqs Media Collective, an Indian art group, says “trends in China, Korea, Japan, South Africa, the Gulf States, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil have become as significant as points of reference today as the traditional west used to be.”
“Maxi dresses, maxi skirts, maxi coats.” That’s what’s going to catch on in Moscow, according to Natalia Syunkova, brand manager at department store Podium. She expects nearly everything this season to go big and long: “Below-the-ankle will be one of the biggest trends, even in the coats.”
Expect the ladylike look to get an injection of raunch with some snakeskin. Candy-coloured python biker boots from Missoni will create a buzz, says 26-year-old fashion journalist Miroslava Duma, who is a favourite with street-style photographers and runs a fashion and politics webzine called Büro 24/7. “Russian women adore reptiles,” she says, “so I am 100 per cent sure they will love this new trend.”
“Our style is casual, very sexy; urban, but relaxed,” says Daniela Falcão, editor of Brazilian Vogue. “Sometimes a trend that is important in Paris does not replicate with the same strength in Brazil.
“This new skirt length or the ladylike attitude – that is much more fitting for the woman here than the fetish from Louis Vuitton, for instance,” Falcão says. “This is not Brazil at all, because even if it is sexy it is very hard, and Brazilians show their sensuality and their sexiness in a much more natural way.”
But Brazilians do seem comfortable showing a bit of flesh, so resort collections have a much bigger impact and are carried almost in their entirety by the local brand outlets. They coincide with the Brazilian summer and show a lighter and fresher style. Falcão admires the Hawaii prints at Givenchy and Stella McCartney’s resort collection, and says Christopher Kane’s rainbow-striped lace dress would be sure of a euphoric response if sold there.
Import taxes on European luxury goods drive up prices, so brands have adopted a Brazilian custom of allowing payment in instalments, which will boost access to goods from Prada, Lanvin, Balmain, and Balenciaga – all of which will open shops in São Paulo in 2012.
Tips from a trendspotter: The key trends to invest in
Keen to avoid costly mistakes, many designers, retailers and creative directors use agencies such as WGSN to look into the fashion future. They can predict trends two years in advance by assessing how cultural events, technology and socio-politics will be reflected on the catwalks. If you want your new-season buys to tap into autumn/winter trends and last beyond a season, look to these insider tips from Cher Potter, an editor at WGSN:
Sections of different textures are combined in a single-coloured garment, as seen at Rag & Bone or in Céline’s pink blouse with masculine shirt panels. Look out for “texture morphing” whereby one texture is woven into another. It’s set to reach fruition as a trend in winter 201213.
The low double breast
These appeared at Acne, Alexander Wang and Dolce & Gabbana, where long-line coats with exaggerated lapels had a rockabilly feel.
The default slouch
Loose-fitting tailored trousers – which appeared at Gucci and Michael Kors, and on the high street at Zara and Whistles show no signs of waning.
The mid-calf skirt – seen at Marni, Louis Vuitton and Jonathan Saunders – has exploded this season. Keep the outline streamlined and strict.
The double bond
Leather, synthetics and felted wool are bonded together to create boxy outlines. Dries Van Noten and Rag & Bone picked up on the look, while Loewe’s bonded leather coats looked like cardboard cutouts.
Think streamlined and concealed. Jil Sander’s 1960s-style black pantsuits worn with knitted hoods made models look like elegant cat burglars on a skiing trip; capes at Giambattista Valli and Halston added mystery.
On a high in fashion and finance. The metallic cropped up on leather skirts at Marc by Marc Jacobs and jackets at Balmain. Set to make a strong statement through to 2013.