IS THE NEW STYLE – COMFORT, ALL WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL THIS TIME?

Photograph credit: Julia Kaczmarek

Fashion lifetime is no different than the human circle of life. It all stays in the loop, and the history repeats itself. Since the pandemic has begun, more and more brands as well as big fashion houses started appreciating and reestablishing the new standards of fashion, but what’s most important, comfort, is finally becoming more and more popular and vital in the fashion industry. The fashion industry has always been controversial and various trends have not always served for human purposes. I bet that each and everyone of us has a pair of pants or shoes that no matter how amazing they look, they are just not what you like to wear, and what your body does not define as comfortable. So my question to all of you is: comfort, is it really a new trend or are we just closing the circle of fashion trends and going back to the vogue of early men in prehistory?

Usefulness is something that did have its moments throughout the history of fashion. However, even when a concept is good, sometimes it just doesn’t last. Thus, it might be useful to look back at history and realize which pieces have lasted until this day? The iconic example is the Birkin Bag: an emblematic piece, which was created to help manage all the things the iconic actress Jane Birkin had to fit into her bag and take with her. Practicalness turned out to be a source for creating something that’s not only original but also timeless. Yes, the bag is an iconic item, a legend even. Let’s focus on something more ordinary. Something that everyone is familiar with, something that is not a museum exhibit (Birkin Bag), but simply an accessible garment: the most practical invention of all the fashion designs, something that everybody loves and seeks for – pockets. Throughout the history of fashion, many designers used them to make their garments more attractive and popular. Pockets began appearing ages ago, and have been popularized by designers like Yves Saint Laurant or Chanel to add another feature to their simple designs. Thankfully now this addition to garments is becoming more and more visible in new collections. Everyone has experienced a feeling of disappointment when a coat does not have pockets or a favourite pair of jeans has them sewed, an absolute nightmare! We want our clothes to collaborate with us and our bodies, we want our personal items close and in the reach of our hands. Thankfully, now even boots have tiny pockets, so there is hope for the future of fashion. This is where the mode is heading, the main purpose now is to make human life easier.

Jane Birkin: credits in the image

However, usefulness does not only come with pockets. In today’s fashion usefulness also shows itself in new designer collections, where many creators tend to add backpacks or fanny packs to it instead of just bags, especially in women’s wear, which for a long time was and still is dominated with stereotypical accessories. Nowadays, at least from my observations, more commonly designers focus on using materials and colors that will create an eternal collection. That is how a new trend emerged – creating a capsule collection from your wardrobe. A capsule collection is a method of gathering a small amount of clothes that will match with each garment a person can find in their closet and create a collection that will contain essential pieces that will always stay up-to-date, no matter what trend is currently popular.  This creation of “harmonic wardrobe” mainly became famous in the 80s thanks to Donna Karan, when she released her “work collection”, however, now we can also see how many brands use this trend to encourage customers to stay loyal to the brand and create a combination of outfits from the clothes they offer. The capsule collection is also a sign of simplicity and a timeless trend that more and more people are starting to consider vital. Creating a collection like that contributes to a more sustainable and aware shopping, and considering the overall global consumption trend, this is what the world really needs now. 

Photograph from Donna Karan’s 7 Easy Pieces Collection in 1985
Image credit: WWD Archive

Some people like extravagant, rebellious looks, and that is absolutely fine, you should make your outfit to be a part of who you are, with what you feel comfortable. However, while discussing current trends, we cannot deny that simplicity is clearly making a comeback.
We are like the early men, who used simple materials and cuts to cover their bodies.  The need for keeping ourselves warm has never been more visible in the fashion industry. The enormous North Face puffer jackets or the long coats in the shape of a sleeping bag are making the streets look like a runway show that celebrates comfort. The feeling of warmth is attractive, feeling literally hot is becoming the new trend. Again, simplicity and practicality are taking the lead, and while scoring society’s approval, they are alluding to what was created and worn centuries ago.

Another instance of prehistoric trends slipping into our fashion culture are the common strap phone cases and bottle holders, which can be compared to early men’s straps and belts for weapons and survival tools. If we analyse our habits and face the truth of today’s reality, then a smartphone and a bottle of water to „stay hydrated” are the new survival kit, aren’t they? Fashion is heading in the direction of simple and practical items that will improve the convenience of everyday actions. Fashion should follow human needs and should act as the essence of time passing and leaving a mark. 

Credits in the image, graphic design made by Julia Kaczmarek

Comfort comes with a different dimension. To illustrate, the word „passé” , used a lot in previous decades, is no longer common and the actual usage of this word is in fact out of fashion. Second-hand becoming first-hand is what is making the street catwalks comfortable for everyone. It is not the époque of corsets anymore; you can be walking on the street catwalk in your favorite pair of sweats and still be considered as stylish and fabulous.
Let’s appreciate the fact that we no longer are forced to put on gazillion layers of crinoline and suffocate our bodies in various versions of tight, uncomfortable garments. The influence of the pandemic is also vital for the changes that have been made in the perception of what can be treated as high-fashion garment. Sweatpants, loose sweaters and jeans and comfortable shoes are no longer a sign of not caring for your appearance, they are the look, they are the new standard of being stylish. 

As icon Adele put it in a recent Vogue 73 questions interview: “Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Comfort over style.”,  comfort is the essence of what should be done and it is the motto that the fashion industry should respect and implement. Even though the comfort style is not entirely new, it is partially connected with the beginnings of fashion, now we can properly manifest it. It’s high time we come to the moment where the fashion industry treats our bodies as a priority and our feelings as determinants of new trends. Let’s appreciate and celebrate the circle of fashion and pay respect to the first garments invented ages ago.

Written by Julia Kaczmarek

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