The pandemic has inspired a desire for events and dressing up. For the fashion industry, this means a tense balancing act between body-conscious sexiness and the mega-trend of sustainability. How are buyers dealing with the situation? We talked to Simone Heift, buying director of The German KaDeWe Group, about which trends she is focusing on for FW22/23, and how customer behaviour has changed.
Ms. Heift, the buying season for FW22/23 is just around the corner. What trend themes will you be focusing on?
The big, overarching theme for men and women is sustainability. This is not new, but for us, the topic was not relevant from day one. Our customers used to look more at brands but that is changing now. This means we will show more sustainable products next winter.
How will you be realising the sustainability theme?
Most brands are now making sustainability part of their collections, which means we haven't opened a separate area for it, but the theme runs through the whole house. We don't have to add any new brands to our range. The big luxury brands are also moving in this direction and are now producing sustainably - even if they started relatively late.
Let's look at womenswear: what silhouettes and lengths are you expecting for the coming winter?
That is really hard to say, the range is huge. We will definitely see a lot of dresses, a lot of cut-outs, also bustiers and flowing materials. Skirts are in at every length, but they have been for years. If you want to break it down to one silhouette, I think it would be body-hugging and cut-outs.
In general, the trend is definitely moving toward going out again. But I would say that the times are over when one could identify trends by one silhouette alone. There are many different ones, also for pants. Wide trousers, cropped lengths, high-waist, everything has a place. That doesn't make it easy, but I find this variety very positive because one can offer something for everyone. Not everyone can wear everything though, and I would imagine that customers would not be happy if we sold only one certain look.
At least when it comes to fashion for a young target group, trend agencies are forecasting a new desire for sexiness. Are you noticing that too?
Yes, we are definitely noticing that. People feel like dressing up again. Occasion fashion was already stronger in 2021, and certainly will be a bit more in 2022. Feminine looks and elegant, tactile materials are in demand. Sequins are also coming back and, as I mentioned earlier, cut-outs.
According to forecasts, 2022 is going to have more festive occasions than ever before. Do you think so too?
The question is whether it will actually happen en masse. I think people have also become a bit more low-key.
What colours and materials are you banking on?
With the theme of sustainability, colours are also changing; we will see many natural tones: camel, brown tones, cream, winter whites, very high-quality natural materials like alpaca, much wool and silk. For these materials, colours come out very beautifully, also in menswear.
What about streetstyle collections?
The oversized look is over and tailoring is getting narrower again. Instead, graphic patterns are on the rise, for example at Off-White or Dries van Noten.
Which brands are you watching right now? Are there any brands that you want to expand with in 2022?
There are some highly rated brands in our range right now, for example Zimmermann from Australia, Celine Ready to Wear, Khaite from New York or Cecilie Bahnsen from Denmark.
What are your customers buying right now? What kind of fashion is currently working well?
Customers are buying specific products and are willing to spend more money on a great product. That means they pay more attention to quality and prefer to buy one high-quality item instead of five that cost less. In general, that something special is in demand right now; everyone has the basics in their wardrobe already. This applies to both men and women.
What about the booming segments of pandemic times, outdoor and homewear?
Outdoor is of course super strong right now, but it is also the right season for it. Canada Goose, Stone Island, Moncler and others are selling very well. Some of these brands are now following the strategy of scarcity, which means we could sell even more of them. Homewear is still a huge topic, but here, too, it's very much about high-quality items with alpaca or cashmere, for example from Aylin König.
Trade show visits remain doubtful for FW22/23. Which trips are you planning?
Pitti Uomo is traditionally the kick-off for menswear. This is still the most relevant trade show - if trade fairs still have any relevance at all. In recent years, we have had to learn to get information through other media. Brands have also adapted quickly and found ways to present their collections virtually. The good news is that it's working. Only the tactile aspect is missing. Of course, trade fairs like White in Milan or Tranoi in Paris would also be important, but in the current scenario, fairs have unfortunately shrunk so much that they no longer represent a trend barometer. I would be happy to have both in the future, i.e. digital elements and the opportunity to actually touch the products.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.