The fashion collections of 2017 for both menswear and womenswear were high on utilitarian details and workwear inspirations this year. Redefining the meanings of blue-collar as well as white-collar garments is easily the biggest theme of the season. This new-fangled interpretation is all thanks to the ongoing social upheavals in our international political and economic atmospheres. As is customary with fashion weeks, they are the best representation of current mind-sets of the world at large and never have political messages and a call to action been this impertinent in our surroundings.
For Fall/Winter ’17, designers went back to strong suiting of the 1980s for a new age of power dressing. Nevertheless, the new pantsuits resemble nothing of the past; they are a clear indication of changing times that call for changing fashions. While there might be several contributors to this trend, we are looking at Hillary Clinton’s rainbow coloured, electoral campaign wardrobe and the return of feminism in full force as a major driver behind it. The modern pantsuit comes in various colours that are wearable but never boring and the silhouette is work appropriate without being restricted. In its essence, fashion is ready to get back to work!
Just because women are reclaiming the suit does not mean that femininity is out, rather the suit has transformed into a canvas for painting contemporary girlhood in all its beautiful details. Here are the main styles taking the pantsuit trend by a storm in women’s ready-to-wear collections for Fall/Winter 2017-18.
The world’s obsession with print is far from waning and suiting incarnations from various designers are testimonials to that statement. From blockbuster florals in vivid colours to old school argyles, prints were abundantly present in both daywear and eveningwear appropriations. A patchwork of multiple sizes also manifested itself in many collections unified only by their colour palettes. Even florals, which are normally sweet and girly, were reinstated with a tough, cool-girl bite at Dolce and Gabbana and Anna Sui. Anshu Saxena of Mossanite Apparels agreed with the season’s love for prints and embroideries saying, “While we’re doing simpler fabrics like cotton and viscose, the print motifs are going bigger than ever. There are plentiful tropical inspired designs in cheerful colours happening and embroidery is looking very strong for winter. The motifs are extra-large and appear very loud and in your face this time.”
Pantsuits have always been the go to for business meetings or attending important conference for everyone, but not anymore now. Formerly associated with bankers and Wall Street officials of the ’80s, double breasted jackets are the armour of modern times. In a decade where everyone wants to look strong and powerful, it comes as little surprise to see the return of this armour-like style, but even this jacket is not short of innovation. The new double-breasted jacket is devoid of its former bulkiness and excessive padding. Whether you look at Bibhu Mohapatra and Teatum Jones’ oversized version or Elisabetta Franchi’s dark variant with big tassels, there is nothing strict about the new double-breasted suit.
Feminism is back on popular demand and there is a new term-in-term in town – Fash-tivism. When Maria Grazia Chiuri sent a plain T-shirt saying ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ on her first Dior runway, everyone knew that the tectonic plates of gender politics have shifted and a cultural revolution has begun.
Power dressing in its old, battered-ram-shoulder sense is definitely out of the window; the modern suit wearer wants to attire herself in comfortable clothing that makes her feel secure and protected as well as powerful at the same time. The silhouette of 2017’s pantsuit is relaxed and goes from boardroom to bedroom with sophisticated ease. All garment producers in India are also in full agreement with this relaxed look. Pankaj Gupta of Exhort Fashion stated, “There is an increase in demand for easy-going garments. Buyers want designs that can be worn everywhere and very transitional in nature. To further the same trend, even the fabrics are very calm like soft wool blends, cashmere, felt and a lot of velvet.”
Shoulders are the first point of attention on any outfit and maybe the only way to highlight this part is not through cold shoulder dresses, even though the off shoulder has also made it to this season. A trend that is distinctively reminiscent of the ’80s are these big rock and roll enthused shoulders. Designers commissioned the architectural shoulder trend slowly taking it from mild to wild, serving up a perfect accessory for the strong and independent woman of this decade. Both voluminous sleeves and strong shoulders were omnipresent on runways like Versace, Jacquemus, Annakiki among many others.
Perhaps it is an outcome of Hillary Clinton’s campaign wardrobe or just our obsession with the colours on a rainbow but high-saturated monochrome pantsuits are a big hit this season. The tonal trouser suits seen in colours like cornflower blue and sunflower yellow as well as tangerine orange is just the breath of tropical fresh air that everyone needs. These cheerful statement pieces are seen through the span of sharp to tranquil free flowing silhouettes. However, Indian garment exporters like Mossanite Apparels and Exhorts Fashions claim that for winter, more earthy colours like military greens, camels as well as the jewel tones like burgundy or navy blues are still the winter favourites, while their designs for summers will be the ones packed in bright colour.
What started with Millennial Pink and Women’s March has mushroomed into a global phenomenon of women embracing femininity and finally becoming comfortable in their skin. Hence, even though pantsuits are back, this is not another ‘Borrowed from the Boys’ trend.
Plush fabrics like velvet and silk satins that instantly signal luxury; heavy-duty corduroys, which is also one of the biggest fabric trend this season as well as some fancy brocades – the fabrics employed in suiting this season is anything but basic. Some designers who dared to swim in some high-shine waters even worked with glossy PVCs and patent leathers for an inimitable rock star on business look. Back in India, Rishi Bhandari of Chandramani Pvt. Ltd. also corroborates the petition for new fabrics saying, “There is an overall relaxed look to the winter collections and fabrics like denim, quilted jersey, silk are looking very popular. There is also a huge demand for velvet and corduroys from buyers so we are very keen on accommodating these novelty fabrics into our designs.”
What started with Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo suit in 1966 has really come full circle through the new and completely renovated sporty pantsuit. Sportswear references are being infused into everything lately, so this mixture of athleisure and formal clothing is just a result of the frictions in popular culture at large. As our lifestyles become increasingly transitional and we constantly become a generation on the move, it is only fitting our clothes adapt and accommodate the same. Hence, some designers have created easy to pair separates with track pants and crisp bomber jackets, while the likes of A Detacher and La Perla made simple kimono collar jackets and stirrup bottoms to complete the look.
Check Your Lines
It is easy to argue that stripes are a classic and no wardrobe is essentially complete without some good striping options but pin stripes are taking quite the centre stage this season. Head to toe in your face style stripes have taken over suiting only rivalled by its beautiful cousin – checks! The wide variety of heritage checks that have come back in vogue through fall collection is definitely something worth talking about because we have seen everything from plaids, windowpane to gingham this season. Indian garment exporters wholeheartedly agree with the return of checks and stripes. Sushil Agarwal of Eve’s Fashion added, “Stripes and just geometric patterns are extensively in demand this season. We’re fulfilling both the demands through customization in sizes and colours to create variety for the buyer.”