In this new decade, throwaway trends are becoming increasingly passé, and we are all looking for clothes that will have a lasting impact within a capsule wardrobe. The spring summer 2020 runways were notably more commercial than usual, with a focus on classic legacy buys rather than whimsical and artistic creations, which could potentially fall into the fad or impractical category.
Every fashion buyer I have spoken to about the fashion week in September used the word "realistic" as the overarching theme. Another buzzword for spring 2020 fashion was "wearability"—a word I am usually loathe to use to describe clothes, given it is their basic function, but it's an adjective that keeps being used to describe the aesthetic for spring 2020.
Image courtesy of The Row
Pictured above: The Row
The headlining trends will all seamlessly transition into many of our wardrobes and stay there for the foreseeable future. One of the most in-demand items for spring, for example, is a simple blue Oxford button-down shirt by The Row, along with bodysuits, little black dresses and relaxed suiting. "Keep it simple but never boring," is how Moda Operandi's Lisa Aiken sums up the tone of this sensible season. "The large majority of the runway collections have been incredibly wearable, the brands have showcased the ultimate wardrobing heroes in a new and interesting way: the suit, the Bermuda short, the white shirt, the tank top…" says Elizabeth von der Goltz, Global Buying Director at Net-a-Porter.
Pictured above: Jacquemus
Behind this desire for more classic, timeless pieces was a topic that's high on the agenda of every fashion office in the world: sustainability. From Extinction Rebellion stationed outside of Victoria Beckham's show to carbon-neutral fashion shows, the fashion industry's impact on the planet was something that couldn't be ignored during fashion month. There's no doubt sustainability will have a significant impact on how trends are shaped over the next decade.
Heather Gramston, BrownsFashion's Buying Manager, said what is particularly notable for 2020 is how new talent is responding to these challenges, finding new ways to produce and create clothes: "I think the innovation coming out of the new wave of talent look to creating sustainable collections. Designers like Ancuta Sarca, Mariah Esa and Duran Lantink are all creating something incredibly unique and pushing the conversation on conscious dressing forward."
The boundaries between seasons are also becoming much less defined—the spring summer 2020 collections make a case for building a capsule that you can wear twelve months a year. In fact, you were as likely to see coats and partywear as you were swimwear on the runways for these collections, which is reflective of the how we no longer buy something to wear for one season only. Below you'll find trench coats, leather separates and knitwear styled alongside sandals, rattan handbags and Bermuda shorts.
Pictured above: Jennifer Lopez at Versace
We might be seeing a focus on sensible dressing, but that doesn't mean that fashion month was without those high-impact moments. The most talked-about look of fashion month had to be Versace's cutout gown, which was a reimagining of the dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys in 2000. Even Anna Wintour grinned when J.Lo walked down the runway at Milan Fashion Week in the dress that led to the invention of Google's image search tool. This wasn't just a moment for Instagram—Net-a-Porter notes that this is its biggest investment from the Versace runway. The original runway version is £6960, while NAP has heavily bought into a commercial version for £4850.
Ready for more detail? Below we chart all the hero silhouettes, colours and themes, as well as the smaller finishing touches which are coming through in this new decade. From '90s minimalism to Bermuda shorts suits, keep scrolling for what's what for spring.
Spring Summer 2020 Key Themes
Getty, images courtesy of The Row.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Gabriella Hearst, Bottega Veneta, Prada, The Row
The '90s have been a source of inspiration for several seasons, however, instead of bold prints or tiny sunglasses, for 2020, designers are inspired by the clean lines, relaxed tailoring and simple staples. Think Gwyneth Paltrow in Calvin Klein. "Everything was incredibly stripped back—silks, slip dresses, halter-neck tops, naked knitwear… There was a real return to minimalist dressing, even in the colour palette where monochromatic tones were the most dominating," explains Elizabeth von der Goltz.
As for other key pieces, MyTheresa's Tiffany Hsu explains, "We loved the elegant box blazers from newcomer Low Classic as well as The Row's impeccable construction. The simple leather accessories we saw at Loewe—modern staples with simple lines—made the biggest statement."
Courtesy of Yannis Vlamos for Dries Van Noten/ Gucci/Balenciaga. Getty.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Gucci, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga
The Zara spotty midi dress is a testament to just how popular polka dots are, and this summer, we can expect many more viral spotty dresses. Designers like Gucci, Richard Quinn and Marc Jacobs played with the classic polka print by moving beyond the usual navy-and-cream colour combination.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Coach, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta and Bottega Veneta
Leather was one of the key fabrics for A/W 19, and this is continuing into summer, showing that the boundaries between seasons are becoming much less defined. This isn't your typical summer trend, however; designers have played with lighter shades and lightweight leathers, and items like Bermuda shorts are coming in leather (we can thank Bottega Veneta for that one). Moda Operandi has seen an 85% increase in leather sales for S/S 20.
Getty/Image courtesy of JW Anderson, Rejina Pyo and Gucci
Pictured clockwise from top left: Victoria Beckham, Gucci, JW Anderson, Rejina Pyo
Every buyer I have spoken to has been most excited by the suiting in the spring 2020 collections. BrownsFashion's Buying Manager Heather Gramston says she was most impressed by the "relaxed tailoring and menswear-inspired oversized fits from designers including Victoria Beckham and Kwaidan Editions." Tailoring isn't just about a classic trouser suit, as shorts suits and skirts suits (such as at Alessandra Rich) will prove just as popular. I am certain that the short suit will be one of the key street style trends for 2020.
"The difference with suiting this season is the multiple personalities that the suit embodied," explains von der Goltz. "Deconstructed at JW Anderson; the '70s style at Gucci; mannish at Balenciaga—each brand did their take on the wardrobe classic. We have 200 options coming for S/S 20."
Pictured clockwise from top left: Marni, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace
We have Jennifer Lopez to thank for this one, thanks to her plunging Versace dress. But that wasn't the only jungle-leaf print to make an impact for spring: "From Fendi's and Dolce & Gabbana's luxuriant green leaves to Marni's abstract blooms, tropical prints have been flowering during S/S 20, with palm trees and vivid colours invading dresses, jackets and footwear," says MyTheresa's Tiffany Hsu.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Bottega Veneta, Jacquemus, Miu Miu, Khaite
When it comes to necklines, it's all about showing off as much décolletage and shoulder as you can, thanks to the '90s minimalist resurgence. Think scoop, square and slashed necklines. Miu Miu's off-the-shoulder cardigan and Jacquemus's seriously low knits are key styles. Khaite's Maddy ribbed-knit top was also a sellout item in autumn and will be continuing as a hero piece in its spring collection.
Pictured clockwise from top left: JW Anderson, Victoria Beckham, Lanvin, Fendi
Wide, pointed statement collars appeared on coats, shirts and blazers, with many using zesty or contrasting colours to really exaggerate the lapel. If Victoria Beckham and JW Anderson are backing this, something tells us it'll catch on.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Chloé, The Row, Bottega Veneta and Alberta Ferretti
One of the key items for S/S 20 is Bermuda shorts—either to be worn as part of a suit as seen at Max Mara and Chloé or separately. "Our clients not only purchase suits as all-in-one looks but also as separates—making this trend a key trans-seasonal look that offers even more options to layer and mix. Another highlight for next season is the sophisticated leather short," adds MyTheresa's Tiffany Hsu. This is an item that is set to translate, as Moda Operandi said it saw a 30% spike in shorts sales in its trunk show compared to S/S 19.
Designers like JW Anderson aren't done with reinventing the trench coat just yet, and the spring staple is going to be more playful than ever in 2020. Key iterations include the split-sleeved coat at JW Anderson and the blazer-meets-trench at Loewe: "It was hard to find a runway that didn't include some iteration of the staple piece. Hits from Proenza Schouler and Loewe contributed to a 140% spike in trench coat sales for spring summer 2020, affirming its must-have status," notes Moda-Operandi in its S/S 20 report.
According to Moda Operandi, fitted tank tops bodysuits and crop tops accounted for 20% of its total top sales for S/S 20. Many of these crop tops are so tiny there are more like bras, as the likes of Dior, Fendi and Loewe made a case for wearing your bra as a top. The racer-back tank top is also going strong for 2020.
Again, here we have another summer staple, but one that designers have reimagined with in line with the "keep it simple but never boring" mantra. Valentino opened its show with several white cotton dresses, Loewe showed beautifully draped midis and Jonathan Simkhai's white maxi dress is pure perfection.
Photos courtesy of Louis Vuitton, Celine, Maxmara; Getty
Pictured clockwise from top left: MaxMara, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Gucci
Now this is an item that may terrify many and bring back '00s flashbacks. You read that correctly—the waistcoat is making a comeback thanks to the abundance of tailoring on offer for spring. Several designers including Max Mara, Louis Vuitton and Gucci layered them as part of a three-piece suit, however, Hedi Slimane for Celine perhaps provided the coolest styling inspiration, with an unbuttoned black waistcoat layered over a white blouse.
The preppy polo shirt is going to be a hero buy for 2020, with designers like Albus Lumen, Prada and Gabriella Hearst creating chic, minimal knitted polos that you could wear to work or at the weekend. Net-a-Porter is so convinced that this is going to be a new wardrobe staple—so much so that it has bought over 1100 units.
We have already mentioned how designers revisited classic wardrobe building blocks for spring 2020, and one of the items that has been reimagined the most is the little black dress. Versace, for example, opened its show with three little black dresses. Moda Operandi found that over 75% of all runway trunk shows had at least one black dress in the collection.
One of the leading sandal trends for 2020 is thong sandals, which come under the umbrella of '90s minimalism. There is already an appetite for this shoe style, as Net-a-Porter notes that last March it created a capsule with Gianvito Rossi and sold 1600 pairs of thong sandals in a week. (PS: Net-a-Porter has 36 other versions coming in spring.)
Chain necklaces have been a micro-trend for several seasons (one quick scroll on the Who What Wear Instagram and you're bound to see a chunky gold choker), however, this spring, they are set to be even more popular. Net-a-Porter has bought over 840 chain necklaces for spring, with fine jewellery options by Lauren Rubinski, Spinelli, Foundrae and Jessica McCormack.
And here we have another Bottega Venta accessories triumph: shoes adorned with chain anklets. The Bottega mesh shoes with a chain around the ankle were a huge success in autumn, and they're back for spring with a thicker, more dominant chain. Gucci and Alighieri have also created shoes with built-in anklets.
Baguette bags will continue to dominate in 2020, with brands like By Far, Bottega Veneta and The Row interpreting this classic '90s accessory. Net-a-Porter has 50 styles of nostalgic shoulder bags coming for S/S 20.
Basket and rattan bags are hardly a surprising addition to a spring/summer trends roundup, but this summer, they are going to be particularly elevated and grown-up. Moda Operandi crunched the sales of the S/S 20 bags, and raffia weave was identified as a feature that most of the top sellers had in common. This is a trend Anna Wintour is particularly keen on for 2020, as she said "We're seeing a lot of linen and raffia fabrics that are very organic and natural."
Pictured clockwise from top left: Gabriella Hearst, Valentino, JW Anderson, The Row
Instead of bright white, ivory and softer light shades proved to be popular in the S/S 20 collections. "This season, we saw a lot of mixed ivory and white, and lots of layering, creating very soft and beautiful ensembles. I always like the latest take on fresh whites, which is always a classic way to style out spring and summer seasonal dressing," says Von der Goltz.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Kwaidan Editions, Valentino, Valentino, Rochas
Fluoro shades have been prominent on the runway for several seasons now, but for spring, we saw a more refined spin on neon, with highlighter gowns and dresses. "Standout styles for us included Valentino's pairing of tone-on-tone bags with belts, diamonds-meet-neon jewellery from Melissa Kaye and EÉRA, and Kwaidan Editions' highlighter-green power suit," says MyTheresa's Tiffany Hsu.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Prada, Gabriella Hearst, Bottega Veneta, Jacquemus
At times, the spring 2020 colour palette resembles a tequila sunrise, as vivid oranges dominated, punctuated with bright pinks and yellows. "Uplifting tailoring in warm tangerine was seen at Gabriela Hearst, while Daniel Lee's Bottega Veneta proposed a marmalade interpretation of the leather summer dress," observes Hsu. "Another striking style for us came from Prada: a double-breasted coat in neon orange with pale blue embroidery."