Checking in with Kelley Shields, Apparel Trend Projection Specialist
Is Williamsburg losing its edge? Our streets in Williamsburg have become less edgy because of the population surge we’re experiencing. And while the ratio within any population of in-touch, inner-thinking types is probably a fairly static ratio, when you increase a population as much as has happened in our neighborhood, the visibility, and by that I mean the ability to see past shoulders in a crowd, decreases. So maybe the answer to the question is yes, the area has lost a little bit of its “edge.” Even so, there’s still is a lot of newness in our area.
What’s happening in the fashion world today? The New York and London runways are over. Milan, Paris and Tokyo have yet to happen, it’s all still unfolding. By the end of March there’ll be some meaningful alignments from all five cities to consider. What is already obvious is that minimalism as a statement is gaining strength. The minimalism that emerged two ready-wears ago as directional is getting much stronger, When a trend repeats in the next cycle and gains strength I refer to that as “cresting.” “New” used loosely, means new from the prior ready-to-wear, or the prior six- to eight-month period. But everything is really just a re-presentation, a re-visting of things that have come before.
Yes, however, the minimalism I see now is not quite as austere or stark as when it first re-presented itself a few runways ago. An over-simplified definition of minimalism in apparel would be that there is not a lot of embellishment, and in the case of the collections underway at the moment, the statement is coming across both in silhouette and in surface design. Surface design refers to the surface of the fabrics and garments, i.e., prints, textures, embellishments like sequins, studs, etc. The interest in color blocking—the breaking-up of the figure through color fields—at the moment is hugely significant.
As I mentioned this cycle of minimalism is also presenting through form or silhouette. The prevailing hourglass silhouette, which reappeared after a very long hiatus two seasons ago, will probably be supplanted very soon by the column or rectangle, which is long and lean and devoid of excess decoration. The styling theme that looks interesting to me, which has been manifesting well before New York fashion week, is a Bavarian-Tyrolean thing It may not grow to have wide commercial appeal, but it’s definitely presenting.
What else have you spotted as far trending? What’s really interesting is this is a fall runway right now and based on the fabrics showing it’s apparent that “seasons” are falling away; fabrics are becoming year round, and people’s impressions of what a seasonal message means is completely changing. Dovetailing are global weather patterns and the consumer’s ability to access information and make informed, personal choices. They don’t have to wait for a magazine to tell them how to look. Anyone can check out style.com or vogue.com on their own, it’s free coverage. The “season-less” effect has deepened over the last five to six years, and that means one can extrapolate what’s going to be valid for much longer.
What are your roots in fashion? That was set in stone at the DNA level; my mom was a self-made sewing expert, she began early in life needing to make money for her family. She taught me how to sew by age five. She would assign me simple projects. The scraps coming from her machine were my harvest. She did that for 30 years and her business grew to such a degree that she needed me to work in it, to keep it going. I used the money I earned to help pay for my studies at Parsons.
How does street fashion inspire what becomes “fashionable”? Street intelligence is always a faster turn than runway and certainly light years faster than editorial…at least mainstream editorial, ie., Vogue, Elle, etc. Really edgy fashion mags won’t waste pages on established fashion, generally. They will, however, seriously mix it up with emerging talent, and pair that with established icons. I am not saying the current street look anywhere has the capacity to influence a current runway anywhere. A season or so later—yes, it definitely could and in my opinion, does. The runways that just closed have been in development for months. But what’s going on in the streets of our neighborhood confirms that a Collective Consciousness or Intelligence exists.
The Collective Intellect informed the design visionaries who just showed, and the in-touch residents of any hood like ours, also spend a good deal of time hanging around that very same water-tower of inspiration—ergo, they’ve come up with versions of the same impulses on their own, in the same timeframe. True, they did not just close their own runway show, but day-to-day their personal wardrobes already express/reflect many of the biggest messages that New York Fashion week had to share.