I remember when all anyone wanted was a fun, flashy handbag. Prior to 2008, every sought-after bag seemed to be decked out with huge hardware, flashy embellishments, or some ultra-vibrant color.
Even high-end fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Fendi jumped on the brighter-is-better bandwagon and produced bags covered in sequins or crushed velvet or some loud print that signaled you were totally on-trend.
In-your-face fashion used to be cool, but for the past decade and a half, it seems that showing some restraint is the real name of the game.
Some say that the big financial crash caused affluent consumers to take things down a notch in order to practice “stealth wealth,” but the chunky hardware and fun prints mostly remained out of sight even once economic times began to improve. It became clear to designers and style forecasters alike that consumers overwhelmingly preferred a more minimalist approach to fashion.
No longer used to solely conceal wealth, the desire for minimalist fashion revealed our collective need for freedom and flexibility in our dressing. The pieces are easy to style, and there’s just something about those clean lines and clutter-free spaces that bring a sense of calm to an already stressful and complicated world.
It seems that even after more than a decade, this design trend has only increased in popularity. Its focus on simplicity really struck a nerve, and it’s left such a lasting impression on the design world that it’s now split off into enough sub-categories that even the most maximalist-minded fashionista can use as a base for their wardrobe.
Of course, there’s classic minimalism demonstrated by brands like Celine, and there’s also the more contemporary flavor found in brands like The Row.
But now, there’s deconstructionist minimalism (things are intentionally made to look unfinished) popularized by brands like Ann Demeulemeester, Maison Margiela, and Yeezy.
There’s also eco minimalism ﹘ pieces that are simple because they are produced without creating waste. Brands like Cuyana are fan favorites in this category.
And then there’s futuristic minimalism and genderless/unisex minimalism and so on and so forth.
There’s no doubt that pivoting to minimalism was a profitable move for the luxury fashion industry (it’s hard to hide the material’s quality without a bunch of logos and glitter to cover it up,) so it’s probably here to stay. But where will the design world go from here?
Do you think designers have altogether given up on visual complexity to instead focus on simpler concepts? Will the resurgence of flashy Y2K or 1960’s mod trends once again dominate the design world? Will intentional in-your-face conspicuous consumption ever make a real comeback? Is the laid-back look the new social signal? How long do you think consumers will be so keen on such decluttered looks?