More than ever, the fashion industry has become one 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 immortalised on the pavements of fashion week, and whose 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 not, perhaps, 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 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 autumn/winter 2021
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 or Gabriela Hearst who are fronting this 'minimalism 2.0'. Add to this the fact that, more than ever, shoppers are wanting to invest in pieces that last, both for budget reasons but also for ethical and sustainable implications, and it's the perfect storm for purists.
"Approaching 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, buying director at MatchesFashion. "The Purist opts for 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 autumn/winter 2021
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 nameksake label. We might want longevity from our clothes, but we also want personality.
Minimalism now comes in many forms: From tonal outfits and draped silk dresses, to voluminous tulle creations, as well as classic tops and basic blazers. This is good news, as it means we can all inject a little minimalist-chic into our lives, even if we haven't considered it before.
Photo:Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst
Gabriela Hearst autumn/winter 2021
Need a little more inspiration? Keep scrolling to see the minimalist-loving fashion girls acting as our muses this year. You can also shop the key pieces in their wardrobes.