By guest author Fawnia Soo Hoo from Vogue Business
Buyers from Net-a-Porter, Harrods, Lane Crawford and more tell Vogue Business what they are planning to stock next season.
Based on the preferences of top luxury buyers from around the world, the Autumn/Winter 2020 season focused on a refresh of the classics: modern fringe, dramatic volume, layered outerwear, versatile capes, tonal dressing — often in real and faux head-to-toe leather — and the endurance of tailored power-suiting. Following the announcement of Raf Simons joining Prada as co-creative director, buyers recognised the magnitude of Miuccia Prada’s final solo collection — and underscored the milestone in their picks.
While discussion of social issues felt overshadowed by coronavirus concerns, which quickly escalated during Milan Fashion Week and peaked in Paris, retailers pledged a commitment to “luxury” sustainability through their buys, via techniques, fabrications and sourcing, as well as a sharp edit of investment pieces for clients to keep and rewear. For this reason, New York-based The Row regularly topped the international buyers’ lists from Hong Kong, to Dubai, London and Dallas. Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander, Valentino and Gabriela Hearst also resonated with retailers around the globe.
Below, 10 luxury buyers discuss their top collections, pieces and trends from the AW20 season and what speaks to their region and discerning clientele.
Lydia King, fashion and buying director, Harrods
Trends: Supersized bell sleeves, fringe, pastels, glam warrior, sexy-cool.
Collections: Fendi, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Paco Rabanne, Thom Browne, Jil Sander, Simone Rocha, Area, Moncler Genius.
King’s take: “The standout shows for the season came from Fendi, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and Paco Rabanne. The Moncler Genius exhibition exceeded previous showcases. We are launching more new brands than ever before, including Thom Browne, Jil Sander, Simone Rocha and Area. We are actively seeing growth in brands with a strong sustainability focus and are adding more to our portfolio, including Mother of Pearl, Ganni, Le Jean and Peony, which use their sustainability credentials as a real point of difference. Within our business, we are focusing on ever-improving our supply chain traceability and training our buyers on sustainable luxury. Fringing was key in every city and expertly illustrated by Bottega Veneta, Prada and Gabriela Hearst. Supersized bell sleeves, as seen at Loewe and Victoria Beckham, were a key feature. Jil Sander and Maison Margiela showed a clear focus on pastels, particularly ice blue and buttermilk yellow. Paco Rabanne and Area presented the ‘glam warrior’ trend, complete with headdresses. Khaite, Nanushka and Valentino best showcased sexy-cool.”
Nelson Mui, merchandising director, Lane Crawford Hong Kong
Trends: Nostalgic plaids and checks, leather and faux leather, volume.
Collections: The Row, Nina Ricci, Loewe.
Mui’s take: “The Row just keeps getting stronger with our customer. The collectability of the pieces gives it an organic sustainability because these are pieces customers are rewearing. We only just started with Nina Ricci last season, but an early trunk show has been a hit. People have been hungering for a new player in the designer space, and with some strong price points, it’s positioned well for more growth. Our customers appreciate how Jonathan Anderson at Loewe continues to redefine luxury in a progressive, artful and romantic manner with an acute attention to detail and craftsmanship. A lot of patterns and prints, especially vintage styles, don’t really resonate as well in our market. But this season’s plaids and checks are an accessible and familiar pattern play, from the ‘90s Clueless school girl tartans to blanket plaids to menswear styles in a variety of colour offerings. Volume and oversized shapes have found their way into every collection. We’re in the midst of a full-blown animal and vegan leather trend in multitudes of colours and in just about every item: tops, outerwear, culottes, skirts and trousers in all lengths.”
Feda Ghanem, vice president of merchandising, Harvey Nichols Dubai
Trends: ‘70s glam, tailoring, power women.
Collections: Dries Van Noten, Zimmermann, Chloé, Off-White.
Ghanem’s take: “Dries Van Noten, Zimmermann, Chloé and Off-White are the top collections we’re buying from this season. Seventies glam is definitely one of the key trends for AW20. Our Middle Eastern women are known for their love for statement dresses, fresh colours and bold jewellery, while still embracing their modest culture through maxi dresses, ponchos and headbands. We are glad to see the evolution of tailoring in suiting and statement outerwear from last season. The silhouettes are more modern and designers are more adventures in colours and fabrication, which is quite refreshing for autumn. At the same time, we are seeing the ‘70s flare return in suiting and trousers to add a fresh and contemporary twist for the 2020 career women. As we continue to celebrate women’s achievements and empowerment, designers brought strong historical references to the runways using materials, such as wearable metallic dresses, oversized capes and vintage lace with chunky boots or cowboy hats.”
Deena Khourshid, senior buyer, Boutique 1, Dubai
Trends: Capes, dark chocolate, shoulder pads.
Collections: Isabel Marant, The Row, Victoria Beckham.
Khourshid’s take: “The coronavirus is definitely raising a lot of consciousness. This epidemic is making consumers more conservative and we can already see that there has been a reaction in stores and not as much traffic in the malls. For the upcoming season, Isabel Marant feels totally different with a focus more on neutral cream colours and some bohemian prints. We absolutely loved the strong, bold shoulder cuts. Our customers shop The Row for its timelessness and quality. The double effect of refined trench coats and blazers is just effortlessly chic. Victoria Beckham’s collection, which caters to the chic party-goer and working lady, has incorporated the season’s trends, from checks to volume sleeves. Capes very much cater to the nature of the weather in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Middle East. It is chic and comfortable, which complements both casual looks and eveningwear. Our customers are very feminine and this signature 1980s shoulder pad look possesses infinite architectural potential.”
Kelly Mara Withey, founder and buyer, Maison Mara, Cape Town, South Africa
Trends: Patchwork, pleats, coordinated outfits.
Collections: Ganni, A.P.C., Coperni, Thebe Magugu, Koché, Marni, 8 Moncler Richard Quinn, La DoubleJ.
Withey’s take: “We will continue buying garments and brands that encourage sustainable production. Our customers have become more thorough in knowing how their clothes were made and what impact they make before buying into a trend, so this is key to our buying process. Patchwork details at Koché and Marni show the use of off-cuts to avoid waste and make for a more unique garment. Pleated details on the runway included an especially new kind of asymmetrical pleated skirt at Coperni and Thebe Magugu. The resurgence of printed ‘total look’ outfits, like at 8 Moncler Richard Quinn and La DoubleJ, makes me excited for winter dressing. Our customers love easy-to-pair outfits. Ganni always strikes the perfect balance between strong silhouettes with joyful prints. A.P.C. sported clean lines and interesting fabric development that’s not visible in the show, but can be noticed when you touch it. We loved everything in the Coperni show. The modern update to the iconic saharienne is clever design and the WI-FI- and iPhone-inspired bags maintain their avant-garde approach to dressing.”
Kristen Cole, president and chief creative officer, Forty Five Ten
Trends: Suiting, fringe, new ‘70s.
Collections: Prada, Jil Sander, The Row, Khaite, Eckhaus Latta.
Cole’s take: “Prada is a perennial favourite for the intellectual woman. This is Miuccia’s sacred last collection of her own before her collaboration with Raf Simons begins. Luke and Lucie Meier’s Jil Sander gets better and better with soft and luxurious pieces that will be highly covetable and current. Jil Sander’s jacket proportions and styling highlight the suiting trend. Everyone wants that perfect, powerful but cool oversized blazer. I love The Row’s commitment to its chic and austere vision. We loved the drama of Khaite’s collection and the continuation of its signature silhouettes. I loved seeing the ‘70s trend continue in a new way. Eckhaus Latta looks good on all body shapes and genders, which makes it a very current cool-girl, cool-guy, cool-person collection in all the best ways. Prada did fringe in the most luxurious and unexpected way. Gabriela Hearst also showed an amazing fringe-detailed dress. So many of our designers are checking the box of luxury sustainability, either through developing true investment pieces or through sustainable design and materials. We try to support it every time. Sustainability really means something right now. It’s not a trend.”
Roopal Patel, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
Trends: Fifty shades of beige, minimalism, fringe, quilting, leather.
Collections: Bottega Veneta, Prada, Saint Laurent, Khaite.
Patel’s take: “Daniel Lee’s influence at Bottega Veneta could be felt everywhere this season. He delivered a knockout collection with an amazing line-up of bags, shoes and ready-to-wear: fringe shearling coats, knit dressing, chic sequin gowns and the fringe pouch. Miuccia Prada’s collection was one of my favourites with all of the Prada staples: car wash pleat skirts, tailoring, embroidery and fringe, which is everywhere this season. The Row has continuously proved that timelessness, effortless dressing and minimalism is part of its DNA. Each look from this collection felt light, flowy, dreamy and architectural. Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent collection surprised us all. There was a big reference to old school Saint Laurent with colour-blocking, velvet, play on brights and a sexy take on the boxy jacket paired with latex leggings. It felt like a modern day homage to Monsieur Saint Laurent. New York star on the rise Catherine Holstein also delivered a standout collection for Khaite. We have been seeing such a big shift in colour palette this season to monochromatic shades of beige, camel, cream, ecru, ivory, chocolate brown, military green and mushroom taupe. Effortless dressing has been a focus with the minimalist idea of clean lines, head-to-toe tailoring, easy toppers and monochromatic looks. Quilting elements, which feel very country chic, were found on jackets, coats and skirts. Leather feels like the base fabric for autumn, but in shades of beige, chocolate brown and maroon and in all categories from dresses to jackets to skirts and pants.”
Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-Porter
Trends: Head-to-toe leather, smart-sexy, return of the Sloane Ranger, disco glam, couture sensibility.
Collections: The Row, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Valentino.
Von der Goltz’s take: “The Row, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Valentino all brought elegant, timeless pieces that had something for every Net-a-Porter shopper. I am adoring the leather head-to-toe looks in all shades, which was treated as fluid fabric. These work for the woman who wants to wear something from day to night. We will be sure to have lots of ‘Sloane Ranger’-inspired preppy menswear fabrics, as well. For nights out or special occasions, I loved the ‘smart-sexy’ looks we saw on the runway; the cutouts and décolletage were done so well in a subtle, sophisticated way that wasn’t overly sexy. There was also so much ‘disco dressing’ with lots of fun shine, sequins, lurex and velvet. For the more elegant and feminine customer, we will be buying into the ‘couture sensibility’ looks, which is couture that has lots of volume and shape with drama and colours, brought to you with fabrics such as taffeta, moiré and tulle, as exemplified by Christopher John Rogers.”
Lisa Aiken, women’s fashion and buying director, Moda Operandi
Trends: Textured black, off-the-shoulder, tailoring, knit dressing.
Collections: Prada, Balenciaga, Valentino, Gabriela Hearst, Paco Rabanne.
Aiken’s take: “Prada delivered a standout collection that will appeal to a wide breadth of customers, from an established Prada client to the new luxury consumer, who will lust over soon-to-be-cult items: the exaggerated padded blazers and microbags. Balenciaga’s epic show production certainly made a statement about fashion within the world we live in. Demna Gvasalia’s commitment to innovate with technique and fabrication will continue to set the pace among the most directional shoppers, from the moulded tailoring to twisted Lycra eveningwear to the redeveloped City bag. While the dark tough-luxe of Valentino’s upcoming collection is a departure from recent seasons, the new mood will resonate with exquisite wardrobe investment pieces. We have had an incredible reaction to Gabriela Hearst in Moda’s pre-order trunkshow format, as we project to end 50 per cent up in sales year-over-year. Key looks include fitted leather dresses, knit coordinates and one-of-a-kind tapestry coats. Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne evolved his formula of rich ornate prints, mix-and-match styling and modern fluid silhouettes, which have found commercial success with our clients. As for trends, an abundance of texture and leather makes classic black more interesting. Off-the-shoulder necklines feel feminine and modern and tailoring continues to be a key theme and commercial driver.”
Lisa Kazor, SVP, general merchandising manager, women’s apparel, Neiman Marcus
Trends: Real and faux head-to-toe leather, tonal minimalism, volume, pleats, outerwear layering.
Collections:The Row, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Jil Sander, Gabriela Hearst.
Kazor’s take:“This season brought great ideas that can easily be integrated into an existing wardrobe: fresh proportion, new hues and updated classics. Gabriela Hearst, Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta showed great real and faux leather pieces from head-to-toe in a variety of colours and neutral hues. The minimalism and tonal dressing trend came to life this spring in suiting and now transcends to new proportions and variations, from knits down to voluminous trousers, as seen at The Row, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen. We are also seeing a range of autumn colours like redwood, olive and saffron, often contrasted with pops of red. Givenchy, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen refreshed volume with classic pieces in new proportions, notably, a high-waisted trouser with fluid leg. Sculptural statement sleeves and strong shoulders are also making a comeback. Capes are a fun alternative to more traditional outerwear that add a touch of feminine detail. Sustainable fashion was a major influence across all fashion weeks. By providing our customers with the best pieces from each amazing collection, we are giving them access to quality pieces that will be staples in their closets for a long time. Additionally, many customers are searching for brands with purpose, from those that responsibly source materials to those that give back to local communities.