The decade that changed fashion as we know it

In effect, it was the decade that changed fashion as we know it.

The decade that changed fashion as we know it

The 2010s brought us Donald Trump and Game of Thrones, the iPad and its subsequent obsolescence, royal weddings, and the rise and fall of various social media channels. As the decade draws to a close, it is worth casting our minds back to summarise the fashion trends that defined the 2010s.

While we can conceal our political preferences and our choice in entertainment, we cannot hide how we feel about fashion. Ultimately, how we choose to present ourselves is a reflection of how we see ourselves and how we see the world. In this regard, the 2010s in fashion were loaded with a social and political subtext.

In effect, it was the decade that changed fashion as we know it. With the meteoric rise of Instagram, fashion became entertainment and less elusive than it ever was before. It was the decade of overconsumption versus sustainability. It was the decade injustices against industry members bubbled to the surface and ethics changed - or did they? Amidst all of this, designers churned out collection after collection in attempts at defining the epoch. These five trends could be perceived as the ones that made their mark.

Designer collaborations When Prada and Adidas announced a collection towards the end of 2019, it cemented fashion’s fascination with collaboration. From its early days in the 2000s, designer collaborations proliferated in the 2010s with everyone from H&M and Topshop to Adidas and Nike announcing partnerships with other brands, ones typically belonging to a different realm of fashion.

DESIGNER COLLABORATIONS: The Giambattista Valli Loves H&M show in Rome, Italy. Picture: Getty Images
DESIGNER COLLABORATIONS: The Giambattista Valli Loves H&M show in Rome, Italy. Picture: Getty Images

Take for example when Louis Vuitton collaborated with skateboarding label Supreme -- instantly sold out, resale prices for the collection soared, with some touting goods for upwards of $25,000.

‘The landscape is changing and collaborations have become part of the conversation. It offers customers an opportunity to connect with designer labels that were previously only accessible in designer boutiques or department stores,’ said Joanne Hynes, the Irish designer who has been collaborating with Dunnes Stores since 2016 on limited-edition capsule collections.

‘Collaborations are mutually beneficial for brands and customers. High-end brands get to be more accessible while the more accessible partner gets to be more high-end. The customer benefits from both sides of it,’ said Hynes.

Of course, others too have democratised the designer collaboration. H&M, chiefly, has brought a host of designers to the high street with bestselling once-off partnerships from Versace to Isabel Marant, Balmain to Moschino. In 2019, they released collaborations with Giambattista Valli, Pringle of Scotland, and Johanna Ortiz.

The new face of menswear Perhaps the most earth-shattering of trends is how drastically menswear has evolved in the past 10 years. Few designers were challenging the codes of men’s fashion in 2010. Everything that was offered was straightforward and accepted unquestioningly.

Enter Alessandro Michele, plucked from inside the Gucci empire in January 2015 to invigorating a house whose tried and tested formula was beginning to date.

Jared Leto arrives at the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020.
Jared Leto arrives at the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020.

In one fell swoop, he brought men’s fashion to its knees with a foppish and fey mien equipped with sheer pussy-bow blouses and chintzy patterns. Gone were the days of hyper-masculinity, enter a new wave of masculinity - a technicolour revolution bending expectations of gender, an introduction to maximal fashion for men.

A young Irish menswear designer, Rory Parnell-Mooney delves into the performativity of masculinity in his work which straddles hypermasculinity and homoeroticism. Meanwhile, labels like Charles Jeffrey and Palomo Spain have entered the industry defiantly opposing preconceived notions of maleness and what one expects from contemporary menswear.

The moment for new masculinity was crystallised with US GQ’s November 2019 cover starring Pharrel Williams dressed in a Pierpaolo Piccoli x Moncler puffer jacket resembling a ball gown. In the editor’s letter, Will Welch wrote, ‘this issue is an exploration of the ways that traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged, shifted, and overturned.’

Stealth wealth When the financial crash hit in 2008, the following years in fashion were defined, largely, by an aversion to surface decoration and bold statements. While many people’s lives and purchasing power crumbled in the crash, others flew under the radar. Quietness was key.

There was Phoebe Philo at Celine making her mark on fashion by delivering authentic, streamlined options with minimal inclinations. She was duly followed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s line The Row and Victoria Beckham’s eponymous label.

STEALTH WEALTH: Streamlined fashion at Celine.
STEALTH WEALTH: Streamlined fashion at Celine.

(It also emerged in conjunction with the Scandinavian style fascination - swathed in layers of neutral tones and perfunctory perfection, sumptuous tailoring and luxurious casual, labels like Stand and Filippa K emerged as key players, while Instagram feeds were dominated by lithe blonde Swedes.)

‘2008’s economic crash birthed a worldwide trend of retail sobriety as shoppers cut up their credit cards and hopped on the spending wagon. Frugal fashion tips and total abstinence became badges of honour in a binge/purge recession pattern,’ said stylist and Irish Examiner columnist, Annmarie O’Connor.

‘Those who still held the means (and desire) to indulge in luxury purchases aligned with the aesthetic of the current climate, one which swapped conspicuous consumption for a mantra of minimalism,’ she added.

‘Discretion wasn’t just the better part of valour; it was a sign of liquidity; a knowing wink that kept style seekers hydrated during the economic dry-spell,’ said O’Connor.

Maximalism makes a return While the 2010s accepted minimalism, others defied the colour purge with maximalism. In September 2019, Jeremy Scott conjured the spirit of the American TV show The Price is Right decorating models in prints ranging from fizzy drinks to dollar bills and washing detergent. A far cry from the clean lines and muted palettes of the first half of the decade.

This filtered down to stores too. ‘While we’re certainly fans of the chic, minimalistic look, there’s no denying that maximalism has hugely influenced our buying patterns over the last decade. Dries Van Noten is one of our designers who likes to play about with silhouette, and his prints can be quite bold too - geometric, floral, striped,’ said Clodagh Shorten, owner of Samui in Cork.

‘Likewise, Italian label Etro goes above and beyond with print, and the layering of pieces - and colours and patterns - can result in a real celebration of maximalism.’ Of course, it had to be distilled to make sense for customers. ‘We feel that maximalism is often associated with extremes but that, when executed to a lesser degree, it can be both stylish and striking, without being ‘too much’,’ said Shorten.

THE NEW FACE: Alessandro Michele arrived at Gucci in January 2015.
THE NEW FACE: Alessandro Michele arrived at Gucci in January 2015.

‘Dad’ shoes In 2016, a relatively unknown Georgian man called Demna Gvasalia was appointed as artistic director at Balenciaga, one of the most prestigious marques in fashion. Under his stewardship, the house’s revenue is expected to exceed 1bnEUR.

In part, this is due to how he disrupted luxury. A 'top trends of the 2010s' list could include many of his contributions but perhaps the most notable of them all was the ‘Triple S’ trainer that led to the ‘Dad’ shoe trend.

The ‘Triple S’ (745eur at Brown Thomas) are known for their chunky sole, thick layers of leather, jacquard, and suede, a hark back to the 1990s. What they symbolised was a new language in luxury - that streetwear had entered the game. Fashion was no longer solely about glossy leather ‘It’ bags and rarefied ready-to-wear, fashion now looked to the street.

‘Streetwear was everywhere a few seasons ago and sneakers became a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. Customers couldn’t get enough of the ‘Dad' inspired shoe when this trend first emerged and it remains popular,’ said Corkery. (At the time of launch they caused a worldwide frenzy, instantly selling out in shops and online retailers with customers signing up to waiting lists and scouring the internet for an opportunity to buy them.)

‘As trends evolved with a more glamourous edge, trainers continued to make a statement, even becoming acceptable for the boardroom. Instead of making an outfit feel casual, trainers can glamourize a look more easily thanks to embellishments, stud detail or flashes of neon,’ she added.

In the seasons that followed, Gucci, Prada, and Chanel jumped on the bandwagon, offering chunky-soled styles.

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