7 trends to know from fashion week Fall 2021

video game, scuba sock sneakers, held literal pillows, @trucnguyen

This season, fashion week went almost entirely digital. In place of elaborate runway shows and intimate presentations, designers and brands held shows without a live audience and released lookbooks, short films and even a video game (at Balenciaga) to showcase their Fall 2021 collections to consumers and members of the media. 

Like the format, fashion week schedules were fluid too; the traditional start and end dates of each city's calendar a mere suggestion. And some labels have chosen not to participate at all right now, so the weeks are also decidedly less crowded than usual. As an example, Gucci announced last spring it would present only two co-ed fashion shows a year instead of five going forward.

This was a season like no other. With neither celebrity-packed front rows nor stylish show-goers to snap for street-style photos, brands needed to work harder to catch our distracted attention online and on social media.  

Still, the distance and challenges of the past year have also offered designers a rare opportunity to recalibrate creatively, and the season's most compelling collections reflected clear, curated ideas of what we may want to wear when we can finally go out again. And unsurprisingly, there aren't many sweatsuits in the mix.

Here, seven Fall 2021 trends to look forward to.

Texture play

While some designers championed a quick return to glamour, many others proffered cozier, more approachable collections for fall designed for both comfort and style. Soft knits and pyjama-like sets, for example, stood out at Acne Studios, and there were plenty of bold, almost childlike textures competing for attention at Max Mara, Ports1961 and Prada. Whereas past seasons may have relied on a single accent piece to make a textural statement, fall's best looks freely layer textiles and surfaces so long as the hues are complementary.

Slouchy suits

Perhaps in anticipation of a general return to office life, pantsuits made an appearance in many Fall 2021 collections. The best ones featured wide-leg trousers, a slouchy silhouette and a look that is tailored but decidedly not constricting or fussy. We spotted highly covetable versions at Beaufille, The Row and Proenza Schouler, all in various shades of brown.

Turtlenecks rising

Turtlenecks are going to feature prominently this fall, on their own, but also as an essential layering element. From attention-grabbing chain-mail-like versions to basic knits to offset a bolder topper, and must-touch textures that add way more than a pop of colour to any look. Layer freely under your favourite suiting, knits and even evening wear.

Knit dresses

Big on comfort? You'll be happy to hear that stripey knit dresses (and separates) will be big for fall, whether you go for a body-con style or something a bit looser and more relaxed. Designer Gabriela Hearst featured maxi- and midi-length takes on the trend for both her eponymous label and debut collection for Chloé.

Happy feet

From “scuba sock sneakers” at Salvatore Ferragamo to shearling-and-pearl sandals at Altuzarra to Doc Martens with every look at Rosetta Getty, comfortable footwear continues to reign this season. Indoor-outdoor-friendly styles like mules, clogs and house slippers also made an appearance in several shows and lookbooks.

Quirky puffers

Oversized exaggerated-silhouette puffer coats, ponchos, capes and more were spotted in the collections at Thom Browne, Toga, Khaite and Rick Owens. The key to this trend is to look for unexpected proportions and eye-catching colours that are as far from your standard-issue black winter parka as possible.

Huggable clutches

It's been a tricky couple of seasons for handbag designers, but once we're out and about again, it may be time to think about a soft sculptural clutch to gently nest under your arm. (At Tanya Taylor and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, the models held literal pillows!) Leather and embellished styles are both popular this season, but really anything with a nice shape that you can hug will look great — just make sure it's roomy enough for all your daily essentials.

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.

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