After an unprecedented year, fashion designers and influencers have acquired a bevy of new skills that will help them navigate 2021. As they anxiously anticipate the new year, fashion tastemakers Danielle Bernstein, Christian Wijnants, Rebecca Minkoff and more get candid with FN about the trends they expect to reign supreme in the months ahead.
Flor de Maria Rivera
Founder and designer, Flor de Maria
What 2020 taught me: What a year, huh? What hasn’t 2020 taught me? That’s the question actually! I have learned so much, and I think I’m a different person because of it. It reminded me to cherish every single moment because the future is not promised; enjoy the simple things like sitting on my front porch, drinking coffee while the sun hit my face and I read a book. It taught me to be more resilient and never give up. Having just launched my shoe line – four months before the pandemic hit, I had to stay focused and block outside noise. I had two choices: keep pushing or be sad. I chose the former. I kept dropping shoe after shoe, and I’m glad I never gave up!
One thing I want to leave in 2020: In general, COVID. Fashionably, Crocs. It doesn’t matter the collaboration, I will never be on board.
My New Year’s resolution: I’m not big on resolutions, because when I’ve tried them before I stop doing them after February. But next year I want to change my whole routine. I want to wake up really early, work out in the mornings and go to bed before midnight.
My 2021 mantra: ‘I can and I will.’
My big prediction for retail is: I believe retail will continue to focus more on online shopping and do more fun virtual events.
How will fashion evolve? What trends will dominate the conversation? I think most people have adopted a more comfortable lifestyle, so brands will focus on giving the customer loungewear, but with that extra something. But at the same time I believe people are tired of not dressing up, so when we can all finally go out and celebrate, people will want to go all out! I know I’ll be wearing sparkles, feathers; you name it. Yellow, the Pantone color of the year will be big – happy dance – and I’m so excited about it since it’s my brand’s DNA. Shoulder pads, cut-outs, bralettes, sheer clothing, wide leg pants and gladiator sandals.
The biggest trend in fashion/retail in 2021 will be: Bold shoulders.
What 2020 taught me: Before the pandemic, there were some unquestioned practices at Koio. For example, we were used to spending a certain amount on the maintenance and improvement of our website each month. In the first days of the pandemic, we decided to reduce our cost base in certain, non-product areas, wanting to be cautious and not knowing how long the pandemic would last. We did that and realized that, in many places, like our website, the quality did not suffer one bit. This was an incredible insight for us. I want us to stay as efficient as we became in early 2020.
One thing I want to leave in 2020: I remember feeling an exceptional level of uncertainty at the beginning of the outbreak. We did not know how bad the situation was, and how long it would last. I’d be excited to leave that feeling in 2020. The pandemic is still raging, but I now sense optimism and the ability that we can get things under control.
My New Year’s resolution: Our team did an incredible job navigating Koio through 2020. Everyone worked very hard, from their places in New York or their family homes. We connected twice a day in the whole team, at the start and at the end of the day, so we were able to maintain a good personal connection and stay aligned.
We’re a pretty lean team, running Koio. When we were still in the office, everyone would naturally overhear other people’s conversations which helped the team strengthen their ideas of our vision and our values. Moving to WFH, there was no shared office anymore, so there was no way for this casual alignment of values. Our work was very tactical due to the constant emergency mindset that we found ourselves in. Our big vision of Koio became less of a priority. In 2021, I want to make sure we return to very-long-term thinking and find ways to formally align on our vision, our mission and our values.
My 2021 mantra: Plan for recovery, and don’t lose the focus and frugality that you learned during 2020.
My big prediction for retail is: It’ll remain tough for the time being, no question. I do think that, for the 2021 Holiday season, the pandemic will be much more contained, our behavior will have normalized and consumer sentiment and spending will be close to pre-pandemic levels.
How will fashion evolve? What trends will dominate the conversation? Comfort; (honest) environmental sustainability; online-first; harmony, not division
The biggest trend in fashion/retail in 2021 will be: I believe that comfort will remain a key trend. People will continue to spend a lot of time in their homes, only meet close friends and family, and not go to formal events. All this supports the demand for comfortable apparel and footwear. And once the pandemic is contained, I expect everyone to be so used to comfortable items that this feature will become an unquestionable mainstay, except for very special occasions.
Any new strategy that will be important for fashion brands in 2021? The past year showed us the risk of doing business in only one market, e.g. the United States. We’re going to prioritize entering international markets. Europe and Asia are high on our list. Additionally, from Koio’s perspective: Europe is our home turf, with my co-founder, Chris, and me being from Germany. And a lot of countries in Asia value the exceptional quality of an Italian-made product like ours.
Founder and designer, Rebecca Minkoff
What 2020 taught me: This year has taught me the importance of being resilient, how to pivot fast and take a stand for what I believe in.
One thing I want to leave in 2020: I would definitely leave behind homeschooling my kids!
My New Year’s resolution: My resolution is to get into fighting shape.
My 2021 mantra: Breathe. Take a walk. Be grateful. Work your ass off!
My big prediction for retail is: When we are able, people are going to want to get out and about in their communities. For this reason, I predict that we will see a return to customers shopping brick and mortar more regularly.
The biggest trend in fashion/retail in 2021 will be: I believe we will see more companies focusing on eco-friendly solutions like using recycled materials, upcycling garments, etc.
Founder and designer, Sarah Flint
What 2020 taught me: 2020 has taught me to let my creativity soar and to dive head first into projects and hobbies that I am passionate about — such as painting and interior design. It has also made me even more thankful for my health and the health of my family, friends, and my wonderful team members and partners. 2020 was an unbelievably difficult year, but it allowed me to take a step back and refocus my energy and I truly believe I am coming out of it stronger than ever.
One thing I want to leave in 2020: Wearing pajamas and sweats all day, every day! I hope that 2021 brings with it the return of dressing up, fabulous outfits, and beautiful shoes — because we all deserve to look good and feel good. I love a good cozy set as much as the next, but I think it’s time to leave the pajamas for sleeping.
My New Year’s resolution: Something about getting up and moving more. It’s easy to not leave the house when you start and end work with it dark out. Getting outside and going for a walk keeps you sane.
My 2021 mantra: This is a time to be extra kind to yourself and those around you. Everyone is going through something these days and small acts of kindness can make a world of difference.
My big prediction for retail is: I’ve seen a huge shift in consumer buying habits and values over the past year and think they will continue to evolve well into 2021. Customers are shopping smarter and are more socially, fiscally, and eco-conscious than ever, forcing brands to follow suit. Customers want to be seen and feel heard by retailers and their buying habits are reflecting this.
How will fashion evolve? What trends will dominate the conversation? Fashion will always be a creative outlet for people to express themselves and just have a little fun. The concept of dressing for comfort is definitely here to stay; however, style and comfort are not mutually exclusive. I founded my brand to bring women style without sacrificing comfort which has benefitted my customers and my business tenfold. Outside of comfort, I think we’ll continue to see brands make the switch to DTC, which has been a necessary retail shift for some brands this year.
The biggest trend in fashion/retail in 2021 will be: Consumers will really be shopping for pieces that bring them joy. Especially in the spring and summer, I think we will see a lot of bright, warm colors and little details that help bring the fun and flair back to fashion. I expect consumers will be drawn to brands that are honest, engaging and offer products that make them feel beautiful and happy.
Founder and designer, Christian Wijnants
What 2020 taught me: Need less, have more – life expands when you eliminate the excess.
One thing I want to leave in 2020: Isolation
My New Year’s resolution: Love and cherish every moment.
My 2021 mantra: Less is more.
My big prediction for retail is: Comfort clothing
How will fashion evolve? What trends will dominate the conversation? Less excess, smaller collections – a stronger focus on what is essential
The biggest trend in fashion/retail in 2021 will be: Casual chic
Founder and designer, We Wore What
What 2020 taught me: 2020 taught me to slow down and reminded me how precious life is, to prioritize bettering myself and my mental health, but also the responsibility I have to use my platform and reach to help as many people as possible. With the creation of WeGaveWhat, my team and I will continue to focus on this throughout the next year and grow that part of my efforts.
One thing I want to leave in 2020: Negative thoughts, bad energy and people who judge others.
My New Year’s resolution: I will continue to work on my relationship with myself and commitment to giving back.
My 2021 mantra: We all have something to give.
My big prediction for retail is: Direct to consumer brands that are mission driven will grow in popularity. Transparency is key.
The biggest trend in fashion/retail in 2021 will be: I think athleisure wear will continue to be strong in 2021, and people will really invest in more basic styles they can get more wear out of.