High-fashion runways have spoken and summer styles are in: trend-savvy shoppers are looking for quality construction, different patterns and textures, and versatility in clothes this season. Building the perfect summer wardrobe is all about mixing and matching fabrics and designs.
Sydney Sua is a New York City customer experience manager for an e-commerce startup focused on fashion.
“Stripes are huge,” she says. “They’re a great way to put an edge on a classic look.”
With degrees in design and business and four years of fashion experience under her belt, Sua has a front row seat to the eternally evolving catwalk that is the fashion industry.
This year’s color is a mixture of rose quartz and serenity, says color trend forecaster, the Pantone Color Institute. It’s a mixture of two soft colors, a warmer pink hue and a cooler blue, both of which would be at home in a feminine floral pattern.
But this summer won’t be as feminine as one might think. Sua expects more androgynous silhouettes with fewer florals, and lots of ever-trendy denim.
“There’s an emphasis on fabric, having interesting and complex and intriguing fabric combinations,” she says. “Really nice basics can be complemented by a novelty item.”
And that applies to both men and women.
Aside from the stripes, Sua expects to see polka dots, chiffon, and lightweight cashmere.
“It’ll be interesting to see how people mix and match because summer is hot, so layering is more difficult.”
According to her, trends are more suggestions or ideas than specific recommendations of what style should look like. Since the 90s, fashion has moved on from focusing on what’s hot, to focusing on how individuals wear trends that suit their needs.
There’s a new type of customer on the block. Bringing an extra outfit to work to change into before going out on the town is a thing of the past.
“Millennial customers like versatility,” Sua explains. “I look for comfort, something that looks complete and polished.”
The new customer is also looking for ethically sound and long-lasting products. Together, those factors heavily influence trends and how labels interact with consumers.
There are many categories of apparel stores, which have different objectives and target different people, she says.
Designers from cheaper brands will make their own versions of interesting outfits they see on runways. They churn the items out much faster than a high fashion designer ever could, giving a wider range of customers fast access to cheap high fashion, she explains.
But not everyone will wear the most risky catwalk getups. Cheaper brands will make the more eye-catching copies of the high fashion trend, but will also make less flashy versions, which will sell best, Sua says.
“That’s where they make their money.”
The high cost of products from haute couture fashion houses like Chanel and Balmain means their customers are of means. But those houses may choose to have less costly options in the form of designer labels, like Chanel’s ready to wear line. Mid range fashion lines, called bridge labels, include DKNY by Donna Karan, and Lauren by Ralph Lauren.
Regardless of what segment a brand belongs to, ethics are becoming more and more of a concern. It’s an option that customers look for across all brands, Sua says.
“The perfect brand is affordable, on trend, endorsed, popular, ethically manufactured, global, and personalized. That’s what all these companies are trying to be, but it’s hard.”