Spring 2020 Trend Report: a Sideways Look at What Matters This Spring

Recently I attended the opening of the painter Sam McKinniss’s latest show, staged at the gallery JTT and titled Jonathan Taylor Thomas (comedy gold!). I was speaking with one of the foremost geniuses of our time, who said: “Fashion is in a very insecure time. A lot of people are wearing things that, you can tell, they don’t really want to be wearing.” He said he’d felt this way since the election—the beginning of our Totally Uncommon Era—and asserted that there is a lack of confidence, or direction, in fashion.

I disagree that no one is showing clothing confidently—Rick Owens, Marine Serre, and Jonathan Anderson, to name only a few, are presenting definitive visions and directional clothing that fashion obsessives as well as the fashion curious will find appealing to the wallet and informative to the eye and mind. But he is right about this overall lack of direction in both fashion and the world, and it’s for that reason that the first trend on your Spring 2020 Trend Report is…trend reports. The world is flooded with trend reports, written by sophisticated soothsayers claiming to have a crystal ball filled with Dries Van Noten shoes and men’s scarves. Looking at culture this way is fantastically diverting, but it also prevents us from understanding what a designer is really doing or trying to say, or what a silhouette or a texture or a styling choice really means. When they tell us they are thinking about the monied middle-class of ’70s Paris—what might that say about the existence (or not!) of such a class today? It becomes our job to decide whether that intention translates or whether it fails. And I think it’s never been more important to hold our designers to the highest possible standards: if they are going to ask us to stare at Instagram and care about celebrities wearing their garms and give them $300 for a sweatshirt, all of which are things I really love doing, they have to meet us halfway!

Trend reports have become a means to make sense of what often doesn’t seem to add up. We live in an age built on a wealth of information, and yet never have we known so little. Is this presidential candidate electable? Is a global pandemic imminent? Are we about to enter an economic depression? And like, why is everyone making suits with giant shoulders? We are on the precipice of something, and googling “2020 predictions trends” will tell us absolutely nothing but will at once soothe and rile our inner spirits, giving us a sense of control and order and understanding where none, really, can exist.No one has a crystal ball, including moi.

All of that said! There are moods and vibes and inspiring energies to carry you forth into the next season, and that is all I can offer you in these troubled, too-trendy times!

From Loewe to Jil Sander to The Row, it seems most designers and shoppers agree that minimalism is the ultimate expression in luxury, at least when it comes to clothes. Perhaps it’s the hold Donald Judd has over us; perhaps it’s that being over-dressed looks so garish—and by “over-dressed” I don’t mean too formal but wearing too much fashion. What we once called the fashion victim. Think of those 2001 Lori Goldstein Versace advertisements meets the second row of attendees at a mindfulness panel at the World Economic Forum.

The problem with a lot of contemporary minimalist clothing is that it lacks soul. Sometimes I look at, you know, a longish blazer without a collar and some suit-ish pants and I just think, “Okay, doomer!” As Jerry Saltz observed of the Donald Judd retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art—which just about guarantees that minimalism is here to stay in fashion, because the rest of us may not dress to match the art but stylists, photographers, and designers certainly do—Judd’s minimalism “[produced] a platform—or a theater—onto which everyone else’s ideas about everything else could be projected.”

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