Now more than ever, the fashion industry is defined by binaries. On the one hand, you have the throw-everything-at-it maximalists, many of whom only exist on our Instagram feeds or are immortalised on the pavements of fashion week. This look is spearheaded by the likes of Alessandro Michele at Gucci and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. On the other hand, you have a fashion tribe who are rejecting the noise and clamour of clashing prints and accessory overload and instead embracing a more contemplative approach to dressing. Yes, this is minimalism, but perhaps not as you know it.
An aesthetic that has simmered beneath the cultural surface for decades, minimalism has occasionally bubbled up and made its presence felt, but it never really disappeared entirely. It has presented itself in a variety of guises. Think Coco Chanel's sporty separates, Calvin Klein's '90s greyscale and Phoebe Philo's austere post-financial-crash stylings at Celine. It's one of the few fashion movements that has transcended multiple generations.
Photo:Courtesy of Jil Sander
Jil Sander A/W 21
Over the last few seasons, it has become clear that simplicity is having another moment in the spotlight, in no small part thanks to the designs of cult brands such as The Row, Jil Sander, Lemaire and Gabriela Hearst, who are fronting minimalism 2.0. Add to this the fact that shoppers are wanting to invest in pieces that last for budgetary, ethical, and sustainable purposes, and you've got the perfect storm for purists.
"As we approach each season, we look to our six muses: the fashion pioneer, the warrior, the free spirit, the curator, the romantic and the purist," explains Natalie Kingham, a fashion consultant and the former buying director at MatchesFashion. "The Purist opts for a minimalist style with a sleek, functional edge, and this season, we noticed a new mood for clean, monochromatic elegance on the runway. This back-to-basics approach to wardrobing reinforces the pieces that matter—the clean, modern staple items that become the building blocks for the ultimate wardrobe."
Photo:Courtesy of Lemaire
Lemaire A/W 21
This emphasis on creating an effective and long-lasting backbone of basics in your wardrobe was not, perhaps, so prevalent in previous manifestations of minimalism. With sustainability becoming an increasingly pressing consideration, people are wanting pieces that will stand the test of time but also feel versatile enough to work in multiple settings. Also, when it comes to design, 2021's contribution to the minimalist cause is unlike the sombre simplicity of the '90s or the sharp-edged appeal of Philo's first Celine collection. (Although, the news has now finally come that Philo will indeed be making a return soon with a namesake label.) We might want longevity from our clothes, but we also want personality.
Minimalism now comes in many forms, including tonal outfits, draped silk dresses, voluminous tulle creations, classic tops and basic blazers. This is good news, as it means we can all inject a little chic minimalism into our lives, even if we haven't considered it before.
Photo:Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst
Gabriela Hearst A/W 21
Need a little more inspiration? Keep scrolling to see the minimalist-loving fashion people acting as our muses this year. You can also shop the key pieces in their wardrobes.
1. THE LOOSE-FITTING SUIT
2. A SIMPLE-BUT-FUN TOP
13. THE BASIC BLACK BAG
14. THE COOL JUMPSUIT
16. KNEE-HIGH BOOTS