2015 marked the dawn of an era for eccentric and extravagant fashion, where Gucci, under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, revived the trend in using vibrant popping colors and showy logos in the luxury fashion industry. Brands like Fendi made the most out of their monogram patterns, while Prada decided to go all out with neons. Fashion was all about turning heads and spotlights, much like the Y2K era. Aside from being the statement of style and self-expression, this phenomenon created the perception that donning luxury items calls for social recognition and the statement of wealth in society. However, fashion enthusiasts have come to be aware that the glitzy days are over.
High-end fashion is taken over by a wave of minimalism. Minimal logo, minimal colors, pure simplicity. Fashion powerhouses are suddenly very hush-hush about their affairs, opting for more stealthy marketing campaigns. Bottega Venetta took a bold stunt by removing its presence from social media and Balmain chose to cut spending on printed campaigns with various fashion magazines but rather spending on full-look styling, where the brand directs the full-look instead of the magazine stylist. What exactly is going on here?
Evidently, fashion trends answer sociological circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic caused an impactful hit on the world’s economy. McKinsey reported that sales of luxury goods as of 2020 have dropped by 70%, indicating the buying power of the middle class is severely reduced. Burberry’s annual revenue plummeted by 48% in the first quarter of 2020, no surprise here. Here is where the anomaly comes to light. Bottega Veneta, a Kering-owned luxury brand known for its minimalism, showed 8.5% growth year on year.
With that being said, the pandemic is intensifying the inequality of income classes. When the income gap is being highlighted, wearing pieces that everyone knows cost more than an average paycheck may not be the wisest thing to do. Take a look at Batman’s tragic backstory. The crème de la crème do not wish to flaunt their money right now. Granted, in the current condition, obnoxiously flashy statement luxury pieces could come across as insensitive to the world’s hardship. Thus, the ‘old money’ quiet luxury is trendy right now.
Fashion houses like Celine with their Classic Box Bag and Max Mara’s timeless coats are back on the rise. Besides the old players of the industry, contemporary luxury brands like Olsen’s The Row, which embody obscure and low-profile luxury, are also gaining popularity. ‘Loud’ brands like Gucci are also seen to be simplifying their designs through the release of the Horsebit 1955 bags with no monogram color block options. Currently, luxury spenders prefer indulging in obscure fashion items that display great craftsmanship with impeccable attention to detail and quality. The aim is to dress luxuriously in a subtle manner such that only people belonging to a certain social class would recognize and be impressed.
It is not possible to exactly pinpoint whether this trend started out as a public image stunt or whatnot, but this clean and expensive look is definitely aesthetically pleasing and personally, I hope that high-end fashion brands continue to move forward in this direction.
Photo: Business of Fashion
Sources: Hypebeast, Bloomberg, Vogue Business
Words by: Giannina Tan