It’s a hard question to ask at a time when the world has been devastated by a virus and social and economic upheaval, but it’s an important one: How will we dress when we finally step out to re-engage with the world?
After all, fashion or dressing up is not just about indulgence, it’s also a way to lift the spirit and look to a future with hope. And besides praying for a vaccine, we have spent the past 10 months dreaming of going out, dressed to the nines, meeting friends and family, clicking selfies and talking about covid-19 as if it was one long bad dream.
The 2021 look will definitely include a lot of colours, mostly pastels, predicts Ayushi Gudwani, the Delhi-based founder and chief executive officer of premium workwear brand FableStreet. “People will make up for the dark year 2020 has been. They are craving a bright future.”
The 2020 trend of wearing loungewear while sleeping, sitting and working from home, though, is likely to continue. In fact, it’s expected to gain greater acceptance. “We have grown so accustomed to elastic waists and stretchy, comfy fabrics that more clothing brands will work towards bringing those aspects into their products,” Gudwani says. “T-shirts, for instance, are going to be a big part of office-wear.”
She’s so sure about the future of tees, especially the polo-neck, that she introduced a collection in pastel shades around September. “Even shirt dresses are here to stay. It’s going to be all about being casual and comfortable.”
This element of functionality is expected to extend to jewellery and accessories too this year. The constant reminders served by 2020 about climate emergencies—Australia’s bushfires, the US’ wildlife fires, India’s floods—have led to a seismic shift in fashion choices. It’s not that people will stop adorning themselves; they will just become more aware and mindful of how they do so.
“It will no longer be about buying jewellery or any another accessory just because you love it or you think it looks good. The consumer, especially the more conscious and aware millennial and post-millennial, will look at its usability, its value for money,” says Tarang Arora, the chief executive officer of Amrapali Jewels, which has started introducing more versatile products over the past few months.
He adds: “I wore only five shirts—all the same design but different colours—during the lockdown…. There’s a growing realisation that one can do with less. People no longer want to buy a piece of jewellery so that it can stay inside a drawer; they want a choker that they can also wear as a bracelet. Simple, minimalistic, versatile jewellery will be a winner 2021 onwards.”
Theme song: Declutter
Perhaps a good thing that has come out of 2020 is the enhanced focus on wellness—Kaabia Grewal of the label Outhouse believes this will be the year’s big trend. “The great thing about covid-19, if you can say such a thing, is that people slowed down. They realised how toxic overconsumption can be and are now decluttering and redirecting ways of doing things,” she says. At present, she, along with Sasha, her sister and Outhouse co-founder, are working on collections of accessories and clothes that can be styled in different ways. “We are playing with our vegan leather bags more with different kind of embellishments to appeal to Gens Y and Z, who are all about sustainability and longer usability,” says Kaabia.
Even when it comes to wedding wear, timelessness is expected to shine. Couturier Gaurav Gupta believes people are still ready to spend big bucks on clothes for their special day, even if it’s a small affair—but they want value for money. “People are now looking for originality in designs. They would like to have something that can be used again and again and later be given as an heirloom. It’s no longer about just wearing a designer dress on your special day. It needs to be more than that.”
Essentially, he says, “change was already happening in consumer choices, fashion trends, the industry. Covid has given it a hard push, and 2021 is when it will all be visible.”