Fashion forecasts for 2010


In the world of fashion and style, the calendar flip to a new year is something akin to getting the key to a brand-new, bare-to-the-walls walk-in closet right next to the one we just finished filling up. What goes into the new space depends a lot (but not entirely) on what came before.

In 2010, that means more traction for the familiar -- Forever 21, home shopping networks, Americana -- while adding some foreign influences (the ascent of Brazil) into the trend mix as well. But the biggest shift in the fashion and style realm might very well be in process rather than product; now that we can have anything we want when we want it, perhaps we’ll give more thought to how it gets from point A to point B. What follows is a little crystal-ball gazing from the Image staff.

Forever 21

Thakoon for Target, Jimmy Choo for H&M, Christopher Kane for Topshop -- in 2009, you couldn’t swing a shopping bag without hitting a new cheap-chic designer collection.

While those fast-fashion chains grabbed headlines, opened pop-up shops and hosted celebrity events, Forever 21 was the quiet giant, growing sales from $1.7 billion to more than $2 billion and launching its own magazine, cosmetics collection and a plus-size line called Faith 21.

Founded in 1984 by Korean immigrants, Forever 21 has 460 stores worldwide. In 2010, it will launch a new kids concept, for ages 7 to 14, and open more than 80 new locations, including megastores in Japan, Europe and New York’s Times Square.

What is Forever 21 doing right? “They have held their prices well below other teen apparel retailers at the mall,” says Brian Sozzi, a retail analyst for Wall Street Strategies, a market research firm in New York. (At Forever 21, a bubble hem party dress costs $29, and an armful of sparkly bracelets is just $6.80.)

Jane Buckingham, founder of the L.A.-based marketing and consulting firm Trendera, said, “Forever 21 gets the trends right. You look like you’re fashionable but don’t feel like you’ve spent a fortune if it falls apart.”

The chain has taken advantage of the recession’s glut of vacant retail real estate to expand from mall-based stores into big-box locations. The prototype for the new stores is based on the 86,000-square-foot Forever 21 outpost opening in Cerritos this month.

“Going into a Forever 21 store is an experience,” Sozzi said. “You want to stay awhile.”

All things Alice

Look for fashion/entertainment synergy to break new ground this year, including novel partnerships for on-screen placement and higher-profile designer collaborations. One of the first down the rabbit hole in that regard will be Tim Burton’s live-action “Alice in Wonderland” remake, due to open March 5.

In addition to Disney Consumer Products’ official high-style tie-ins with jewelry makers (Tom Binns, Swarovski) and clothing designers (Stella McCartney is among those rumored) set to roll out in conjunction with the film’s release, Lewis Carroll inspiration is popping up like hallucinogenic mushrooms after an acid rain. The recent holiday window displays at Bergdorf Goodman in New York bore an Alice in Wonderland theme, and in March, Parisian department store Printemps reportedly plans to unveil window displays of custom “Alice” dresses by the likes of Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane.

Designers recently name-checking Lewis Carroll and his creations include Donatella Versace, Jason Wu, Kenzo’s Antonio Marras, and Zac Posen. A self-professed lifelong fan of all things Alice, Posen has collaborated on a collection of Wonderland-themed jewelry and recently unveiled a pre-fall 2010 collection that he describes as “Lewis Carroll meets Paloma Picasso,” which includes thigh-length, Alice-appropriate dresses in mad, mad plaids. He explained there are several things that play into the fomenting fashion fixation.

“First, there’s a real sense of escapism and imagination to it that I think is important in popular culture right now,” he said. “And Alice and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ have really become a part of the fashion vernacular.” He pointed to everything from the familiar iconography of the tea party accouterments and playing cards to “the woman dressing as a little girl in a shrunken dress, and the black, white and red colors, and even the dandy tweed suit.”

Home shopping networks

QVC has Isaac Mizrahi, Dennis Basso and Rachel Zoe. HSN has Badgley Mischka, Naeem Khan, Loulou de la Falaise, Carlos Falchi and Sean John. Though a future merger of the two networks is still up in the air, one thing’s for sure -- with edgier designer collaborations, and glossy magazine and fashion week tie-ins, it will become increasingly chic to shop your TV screen.

On Feb. 13, QVC will be using the runway at New York Fashion Week to launch new designer lines (including one from Oprah Winfrey favorite Costello Tagliapietra), before heading to L.A. to host two days of remote programming from the Four Seasons Hotel during Oscar week and a star-studded red carpet event. A top seller from last year, super stylist Zoe will be back with an even bigger range of products. “When our customers get to call in and talk to her, and ask her how to wear something -- and she’s on a hit show on Bravo at the same time -- you can’t lose,” said Jamie Falkowski, a spokesman for the network.

HSN plans to increase its visibility in Hollywood as well by hosting a party at Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge estate to launch Duquette partner Hutton Wilkinson’s line of jewelry in March.

HSN Chief Executive Mindy Grossman, who joined the company three years ago, sees her customer evolving. “Our three largest markets are New York, L.A. and Chicago. Our customer is above-average income, educated and loves to know the ingredients in skin care.” For 2010, Grossman is putting more emphasis on the format of shows, sending a production team to designer showrooms and cosmetics laboratories to film the story behind the product. During New York Fashion Week, Elle magazine editors will be on HSN talking about the trends of the season.

“Both companies have transformed their brands,” says Christopher Marangi, financial analyst with Gamco Investors in Rye, N.Y. “The previous perception was that they targeted lower-income households. But now they are younger and edgier, and taking a fashion-forward stance has helped. Many designers have also realized what a powerful channel the electronic selling area can be.”


Brazil seems to be having a moment -- or perhaps it’s a series of moments that may add up to a permanent place at or near the top of the heap. Economists predict the country’s economy will be relatively robust in 2010, the country will play host to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, and Brazil has fashion in the bag as well.

Some of the most famous faces in the global fashion industry have come from Brazil, beginning with the leader of the modeling pack, no-last-name-necessary Gisele. Isabeli Fontana, Raquel Zimmermann, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio and Madonna’s current boy toy, Jesus Luz, also continue to hold supermodel status, bringing media and designer attention to their home country. Though they may walk the runways of Milan and Paris, many of these stars return to Brazil to strut the catwalk at São Paulo Fashion Week, a biannual event started in 1996, which attracts media and designers such as Alexandre Herchcovitch, Tufi Duek and the king of the Brazilian bikini, Amir Slama.

The country’s booming fashion scene has also fueled the luxury retail market, attracting brands and boutiques that are on par with Paris and New York. Christian Louboutin, Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta and, just last month, Missoni, have opened stores in São Paulo, with several also retaining outposts in Rio de Janeiro.

(All this is happening despite huge pockets of poverty and crime in cities such as Rio, a phenomenon that gives some tourists pause.)

Executives at many Brazilian companies are working for greater exposure on the fashion front. The plastic accessories company Melissa, for example, teamed up with designer Vivienne Westwood to produce a line of plastic high heels and flats that were seen on fashionable feet everywhere last fall. Brazilian fashion export Carlos Miele, the country’s answer to Tommy Hilfiger, made a move into the U.S. market eight years ago, opening one of the first high-end clothing boutiques in New York’s stylish meatpacking neighborhood alongside McCartney and McQueen and has managed to successfully stay open despite the sour economy.

“You feel like it’s the country of the future because everything is on the rise,” said L.A.-based entertainment marketing consultant Isaac Joseph. “The Olympics may help pull the country together, and everything is moving forward in this fast and exciting way. Between the ethanol, nature reserves, culture and people -- it’s really a hub of all things that are totally happening.”

Brand America

The heritage chic trend that gave us 2009 phenomena such as Florsheim by Duckie Brown’s star-spangled Patriot Boot, and Pendleton’s collaborations with Hurley and Opening Ceremony, is ripe to broaden into a global appetite for “brand America.”

In addition to more advertisements that emphasize the hardworking, can-do spirit, industrial fortitude, and pick-ourselves-up-by-our-own-bootstraps message (see Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign), look for European designers to partner with some of the most revered of American brands.

At the Paris spring/summer 2010 men’s runway shows, the trademark Red Tab of Levi Strauss & Co. could be spotted in the collections of Rick Owens, Junya Watanabe Man and Jean Paul Gaultier, who added his signature maritime stripes and bondage straps motifs to the traditional 501 silhouette, as well as a classic-looking trucker’s jacket with the front panels cut out so that it resembled a bondage harness.

And for the first time, Emporio Armani, the lower-priced line from Giorgio Armani’s Milan-based fashion empire, is making jeans in the United States. The company recently announced that four new styles (two for men and two for women) for spring/summer 2010 are being made in downtown Los Angeles. Touted as “the refinement of the Armani brand with an original interpretation of the authentic vintage American look,” they bear a distinct stars-and-stripes vibe that’s reflected in special hangtags, brushed white enamel rivets and red, white and blue leather labels.

Denim’s not the only department either; Italian label Missoni has partnered with another venerable American brand -- the 101-year-old Converse company -- to make $200 versions of the classic Chuck Taylor All Star high-tops printed with Missoni’s signature zigzag patterns. Converse’s deep bench of collaborations for 2010 will also include a shoe with Number (N)ine’s Japanese designer Takahiro Miyashita and another with the British rock band the Clash.

The new bridge

In retail parlance, “bridge” used to describe bland career wear and mom jeans by the likes of Jones New York, Anne Klein and Liz Claiborne. But no more.

Tory Burch, Elie Tahari, Phillip Lim and others have carved out a “new bridge” market by offering clothes with designer details and more accessible prices.

In 2010, more designers will run to the middle to appeal to price-sensitive shoppers. This month, Alice for Alice Temperley will arrive in department stores, with prices ranging from $130 to $820, for striped cotton tailored jackets, quilted leather biker jackets and printed dresses. In the spring, Posen will debut his ZSpoke line of sportswear exclusively for Saks Fifth Avenue. Although his namesake runway label goes for $900 to $6,000, ZSpoke will start at $78 for a T-shirt and $675 for a knit dress. Even John Galliano, who designs haute couture, is expanding his lower-priced Galliano collection to include menswear, which will be shown on the runway in Milan this month.

“More and more, it’s going to be hard to be at the top end of the market,” said Buckingham of Trendera. “There are only so many designers people are going to spend a lot of money for. The luxury consumer is saying, ‘I’m going to spend money on designers I know will be around 15 years from now.’ So it makes sense to penetrate that new bridge market. And for many people now, the middle is the high end.”

Health-conscious beauty

Call it a beauty product backlash or the rise of a more health-conscious consumer, but natural and organic skin-care products are continuing to replace the commercial soap and synthetic anti-aging serums in bathrooms of women everywhere. In 2008, 64% of women who use beauty products said they used “natural” items, according to NPD market research group, and last year the New York Times reported that “the market for natural and organic cosmetics has grown in leaps and bounds.” With more women learning about potential problems associated with parabens, petrochemicals and other preservatives found in many skin-care products, many of them are opting to decrease the potentially toxic substances they encounter.

Dr. Jessica Wu, a Westwood-based dermatologist, used to hear references to natural and organic beauty products only from her Malibu clients, but now, she said, all her clients seem interested. “I think this is a natural extension of eating organically and being more conscious of what we are putting into our bodies,” she said. “More and more people come to me after seeing their acupuncturist or nutritionist and tell me they’re no longer interested in prescription remedies and want to switch to a more natural product with more gradual results. . . . And now with places like Sephora, which has “green” and “organic” beauty sections, it’s easier for people to shop for these products.”

Publicist Robin Gilbert started her shift to organic beauty products last year, mostly to eliminate parabens, which in some studies have been linked to breast cancer in women. (Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic products, according to the Food and Drug Administration.) “If I can control what goes into my body to some extent, then I will,” said Gilbert, who uses products from organic and natural brands such as Nude and Tom’s of Maine.

Gilbert said she was so overwhelmed with how many department store products she was using that streamlining her regimen into something more “clean” and natural seemed less chaotic. “I was trying so many things before. And with natural products, I don’t feel as bad about what it’s leaving on my skin or what’s going into my skin.”

On the other hand, she continued, “if I have something on my skin I want to get rid of, I’ll do whatever it takes. I really don’t know how much those natural products are gonna help with wrinkles. It’s about finding that balance and targeting what’s important.”

Sometimes it’s tough to know what is natural. The labeling of such products is mostly unregulated, and consumers would be wise to do their homework. “The reality,” said Beverly Hills dermatologist Harold Lancer, “is that there are very few things on Earth in the beauty world that are 100% organic,” he said. “Unless you have the bees flying it up to you every day, you need something to preserve it.”

Living local and reconnecting

The locavore movement, dedicated to eating locally grown food as a means toward sustainability and eco-consciousness, seems likely to influence other areas of life. In fact, trend forecaster Faith Popcorn has made the concept of localization the cornerstone of her predictions for 2010.

“There is nothing we can do about Iraq and Afghanistan, so we are trying to find someplace where we can have an effect,” Popcorn said. “It’s like a turtle pulling into its shell; it’s hyper-cocooning. Local becomes an attitude.”

Concern is growing about money and jobs sent elsewhere, she said. “There will be a push back against companies that make too much money and don’t support their communities.”

More companies will source locally and be transparent about where ingredients and materials come from. “There is a tremendous craving for community, authenticity and information about the source -- where did this grape come from, what are the politics I’m putting in my mouth?”

“We’re all looking for quietude, away from the buzzer, the beeper and the phone,” she said.

Indeed, in 2009 we seemed to twaddle, facepoke and iplot ourselves to a never-ending cycle of delirium that forsakes interpersonal connections for Internet connections. In the world of style, that translated into runway shows going virtual, fashion weeks fixating on baby bloggers and 140-character “tweets from the seats” becoming the status quo.

If 2010 isn’t the year it all comes tumbling down around our ears, perhaps it will at least be the year the foundations begin to buckle.

“Once the economic recovery starts to happen, one of the first things we’re going to do is say: ‘All that networking and faux-networking didn’t do a . . . thing for us,’ ” said Richard Laermer, a trend watcher and author of “2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade.”

“It didn’t help us get jobs or help us with our relationships,” Laermer said. “It didn’t keep us happy, it didn’t get a healthcare bill passed. We’re going to realize Twitter and Facebook and all those things didn’t do a . . . thing for us and that maybe we ought not to do that for a while.”

The analog shift won’t happen overnight (probably because there’s no app for that), but Laermer thinks we’ll start to see people put down the mouse and pick up the phone. “Having conversations, or a cup of coffee -- what the kids call IRL, which stands for ‘in real life.’ I think we have to go back to being in real life.”