Kayla Marci

August 30, 2021

Is minimalism fashion making a comeback?

With Phoebe Philo's return and seasonless dressing, learn about the six reasons to keep trends simple.

The influx of dopamine-inducing trends in retail and on the runway reflects consumers' pent-up demand for more extravagant dressing. However, simple and clean lines are quietly returning, indicating minimalist and maximalist trends can coexist. 

We know the more dramatic Yee-haw and Y2K aesthetics are snatching headlines. Yet, other factors are at play, showing retailers shouldn’t count out timeless wardrobe pieces. Read on for six reasons why minimalism will be more important than ever. 

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1. Phoebe Philo's return to the fashion fold

After a three-year hiatus, Philophiles worldwide jumped for joy upon hearing news of an upcoming eponymous line by the British designer. Philo was famed for championing post-recession fashion for the female gaze, with understated minimalism at the core of her collections - an aesthetic filled by Bottega Veneta, The Row and Jil Sander in her absence. The internet speculates Philo's label may be different to those of her Céline days. Yet, the brand self-describes itself as "rooted in exceptional quality and design," hinting at refined and timeless products for the modern consumer. It could potentially serve as a palate cleanser to the maximalism, logomania and streetwear trends dominating luxury today. More news of the highly-anticipated brand is to come in early 2022.

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Phoebe Philo's Céline vs. Hedi Slimane's CELINE. Images via Imaxtree - Céline Fall 2017 Paris, Céline Spring 2018, Celine Fall 2021, Celine Fall 2021

2. Prices for classic pieces have lifted

Minimalism emerged as a way to counteract excessive displays of wealth post-recession. Then the pattern was disrupted during COVID, as consumers spent a year indoors unable to indulge in occasions, leading to a rise in disposable income. This resulted in the revenge dressing phenomenon to make up for lost time with lavish and often maximalist fashion purchases to cater to Dopamine Dressing. With demand for newness surging as shopping habits return to normalcy, retailers inflated their prices

Prices of minimalist pieces have also swelled, with consumers looking to purchase special or essential items that will last. So retailers need to ensure they’re pricing products accordingly to command stronger margins. We’ve done the hard work for you, pinpointing what's more expensive this year vs. last across key wardrobe staples. 

In the US, womenswear items designed for the minimalist wardrobe have seen a price hike - wide leg trousers, trench coats, oversized blazers, white sneakers and slip dresses are all averaging higher than 2020. Plain tees are relatively flat, while sweaters are more accessible. The UK shows a similar trend. However, slips and oversized blazers come up cheaper, with native fast fashion brands vying for market share. 

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Menswear in the US averages at a higher price point vs. 2020, with the exception of sweaters, plain tees and trousers. In the UK, men’s solid colored sweaters are on average currently priced 18% higher YoY. 

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3. It allows for more conscious and inclusive dressing

Minimalism fashion underscores the notion of “buy less, buy better” - a crucial movement as the planet struggles from the negative impacts of overconsumption. The concept of capsule wardrobes consisting of seasonless, versatile pieces have been bubbling up for some time, especially during COVID, to promote the idea of living with less. It’s also  been adapted into the mass market, evident from top performing fall styles below. There’s less flash-in-the-pan trends. Instead core, gender-neutral styles with longevity will be worn across future seasons.

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Images via Bershka, boohoo, H&M, M&S Collection

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Images via Old Navy, Pull&Bear, Zara, Zara

4. Neutral hues top fall arrivals

Excluding black and white, neutral is the highest-invested color in womenswear, equalling 16% fall arrivals. While blues, greys, navies and greens take precedent for men, 12% of fall arrivals are dedicated to neutral shades. It's also the top performing color, making up 18% of new styles selling out of majority SKUs in womenswear and the second-best seller for men at 16%, indicating demand is outpacing arrivals across both markets. 

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5. Solid colors are outselling prints

Of the new fall arrivals selling out of majority SKUs, 69% of menswear is plain vs. 31% patterns. Solid colors also are selling better across new womenswear products at 75% vs. prints at 25%. This doesn’t mean retailers need to discount their checkerboard ranges - just ensure they’re merchandised with essential color palettes and classic products as mentioned above so consumers can mix and match minimalism and maximalism. 

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6. It’s prevalent in Spring 2022 collections

Confirming minimalism fashion's longevity for next year, understated and elevated wardrobe staples were showcased throughout many designers’ latest presentations. We round up how the theme was communicated on the latest runway to inform retailers’ future buys. 

Head-to-toe neutrals

Poised as the new black, classic natural hues were prominent across smart casual and loungewear looks, indicative of its broad appeal. For men, it cropped up across jersey tees, utilitarian aesthetics, tailored separates and co-ords. In the womenswear Pre-Spring shows, the “goes with everything” hue was applied to elevated loungewear, trench coats, wide leg pants as well as mini and midi dresses. 

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Images via Imaxtree - Burberry Pre-Spring 2022; Chloé Pre-Spring 2022; Cult Gaia Pre-Spring 2022; David Catalan Spring 2022

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Images via Imaxtree - Diesel Spring 2022; Dior Homme Spring 2022; Paul Smith Spring 2022; ROTATE Birger Christensen Spring 2022

Colored tailoring

Who said minimalism was dull? Sleek suiting was given a fresh update to appeal to the modern consumer seeking relaxed fits and happy hues. Intertwining Dopamine Dressing with wardrobe staples, sorbet shades colored up suits at Stine Goya, Stella McCartney and Versace. While in menswear, Louis Vuitton and Walter Van Beirendonck showcased bold and bright sets. Talk about the best of both worlds. 

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Images via Imaxtree - Emanuel Ungaro Spring 2022; Louis Vuitton Spring 2022; Officine Generale Spring 2022; St.John Pre-Spring 2022

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Images via Imaxtree - Stine Goya Spring 2022; Versace Pre-Spring 2022; Victoria Beckham Pre-Spring 2022; Walter Van Beirendonck Spring 2022

Simplistic shoes

Not just for apparel, classic footwear styles were confirmed by the catwalk for next spring. Neutral colorways were core at Fendi and Eudon Choi, while minimalist sliders and loafers appeared as an emerging trend for both men’s and womenswear. As consumers slip back into heels, toe-posts, mules and square-toe sandals will be coveted. For sneakers, sleek, 70s-inspired options are emerging as an alternative to the chunky styles. 

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Images via Imaxtree - By Malene Birger Spring 2022; Davi Paris Spring 2022; Eudon Choi Pre-Spring 2022; Fendi Pre-Spring 2022

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Images via Imaxtree - JOEONE Spring 2022; Missoni Pre-Spring 2022; MTL STUDIO Spring 2022; OAMC Spring 2022

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