2020 is in the rearview, and while winter weather and stay-at-home measures currently remain, the fashion industry is looking forward to the trends and aesthetics that will shape 2021, especially for the spring ’21 season.
Here, nine fashion and footwear trends to look forward to in the new year.
1. Comfy pants — that aren’t sweats
Consider spring’s new separates to be training wheels for returning to the pre-pandemic notion of wearing real clothes. They may not be sweatpants, but wide-leg cuts and relaxed silhouettes with slightly tapered waists offer comfort for a new decade and new look.
To buy: Staud Tropics pant, $122 (was $225).
To buy: Diarrablu Leer pants, $125.
In fashion, “thong” can mean a few things, and all versions will be having their moments in 2021. There will be cheeky swimwear (and yes, we have seen a whale-tail or two), but on foot the elevated version of a flip-flop (or thong) will also continue to spark interest, whether it’s a dressed-up thong kitten heel or a sporty take on the between-the-toes style. One thing is for sure, trend seekers will have the option of baring a bit more this year — in more ways than one.
To buy: Steve Madden Melrose sandal, $86.
3. More of the outdoor
The outdoor-focused, fashion hiker trend has been percolating for a few years now, especially in menswear. Now that nature seems to be the only safe source of leisure in these physically-distant times, the co-mingling of outdoor and fashion markets will continue to resonate. Take Gucci’s new collaboration with The North Face, or Danish line Ganni, one of fashion’s buzziest high-contemporary brands, whose hiking-inspired boot continues to be one of its best selling items. For spring ’21, Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci experimented with outdoor silhouettes (shown in an actual forest). Expect to see these technical pieces mixing in with more fashion-focused items, like the hiking-boot-with-a-dress look.
4. Miles of mules
Mules, the big footwear trend of 2017 and 2018, were somewhat on their way out in 2020, prior to the pandemic. But after a year filled with multitudes of difficulty, it makes sense that footwear’s easiest silhouette would be sticking around. For 2021, designers gave the mule simple, graphic updates, from stripes at Jimmy Choo to inverted triangular heel shapes at The Attico. For footwear’s biggest It brand, Bottega Veneta, the mule came in a chunky, nearly-wedge heel with an almond toe — a distinctive turn from its cartoonish square toes of 2019 and 2020.
To buy: Miista Frostine mule, $350.
5. Return of the gladiator
The ancient footwear trend ruled much of the aughts, and it was only a matter of time until it turned back up on the runways. At Chloé, it came in a cutout bootie hybrid (a style that has never really disappeared from the brand), with an easy block heel. Elsewhere, at Alberta Ferretti and Etro, flat beachy styles and espadrilles suggested more carefree days of summer 2021, while both Gianvito Rossi and Giuseppe Zanotti did glammed up versions. But perhaps the biggest hint of the gladiator’s return comes from Valentino, which brought back its aughts hit Rockstud in a flat and kitten heel. Get ready to strap up.
6. Black and white
Spring ’21 seems to have less of a cohesive color palette — no singular bold hue or two to join collections for buyers and retailers. But the absence of color, in black-and-white, did pull through in a variety of ways. At Gabriela Hearst, it was both a simplicity and literal duality, while French brand Koché used it mixed in with lace and floral prints, and at Alice + Olivia, it was simply a graphic statement.
Sporty, flirty or retro, the skin-baring top was all over the spring ’21 runways, perhaps another nod to designers’ notions of vacation escapism.
8. Floral feet
We know that florals for spring aren’t groundbreaking, but a crop of blooming footwear is certainly an update to the botanical printed dress the comes around each season.
9. Luxe clogs
There’s a new “It” shoe in town for spring ’21 and it won’t be cheap: Meet the Hermès clog, its traditional wooden sole paired with shiny, sumptuous leather and fastened with even equally luxe nail heads. It may not be as comfortable as an “ugly” sandal or sneaker, but we’re betting that the French luxury house will make the footwear as spa-like as the shoes were originally intended.
Until the Hermès clogs debut in early spring, here are three other clogs to wear now:
To buy: No. 6 Old School Clog, $350.
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