Throughout history, fashion has often been a sign of cultural change. One notable fashion transformation included the 1960s hippie movement where clothing shifted from polished and tailored a-line dresses with suits to a world full of colorful tie-dye, headscarves and a rebel outlook due to the unrest and disturbance in the country. Influenced by rock bands in the 1990s, fashion overhauled once again and made room for plaid, distressed denim and combat boots. Fast-forward almost 30 years and we are now faced with another fashion reconstruction due to social and political unrest and a global pandemic.
Here, 303 Magazine connected with four noteworthy and extremely talented Denver designers — all past participants of Denver Fashion Week and discussed the future of fashion.
Seated in numerous studios, workspaces and offices, many Zoom calls connected writer to designers. Various backgrounds, sounds, colors and atmospheres showcased independent concepts within these brilliant minds, yet they collectively spoke similar words. The famous MENEZ brothers talked the future of new collection ideas; solo Tomboi international designer C.R. Lee explained how the pandemic changed the way we look at fashion; the vivacious Electric Bubblegum reinforced the idea of online presence; luxurious and supreme designer Royal Outerwear made a case for the continuation of streetwear-inspired clothing. Through the months of abnormal time where spring and summer fashion shows worldwide would have been scheduled for crowds of thousands, these Denver designers used the time to pause, reflect, visualize and create.
While their many pet birds chorused in the background, Vinny and Saul of MENEZ discussed the future of fashion. Part of this rearrangement came to fruition as Alessandro Michele of Gucci reduced their number of runway shows per year from five to two. “As glorious as individual shows can be, as a whole they’re unsustainable — excessive in terms of cost, time, and waste,” Nicole Phelps, writer for Vogue explained.
In agreement with Gucci, MENEZ explained why their brand prefers a lesser amount of runway shows. “We just want to make sure everybody is safe, first and foremost. We are focusing more on the behind-the-scenes creative projects and working on stuff we have never done before. You get more creative instead of just pushing stuff out.” During the months of stay-at-home orders and while their Italian manufacturing clothing plant was closed, MENEZ used their creative freedoms to dive into new collection ideas such as sculpting and headpieces.
Similar to MENEZ, C.R. Lee — who recently appeared on the Tamron Hall Show — explained how the pandemic already changed the way we look at fashion and said a rebrand of her label is underway. “It’s really taken out the surfaceness of fashion,” she said. “It was all about the way it looked and I think it’s really changed it to where it’s gotten back to the emotional connection we have with our clothing, the buying experience and the customer retail relationship.”
“Purpose” stood out as another word the Denver creative used to describe her perspective on the way customers moving forward will think of fashion, and she suggested fast fashion brands are negatively impacted by this shift. “You see it with the store closures and you see it with how people are consuming different things,” Lee explained. Throughout this change, the Paris Fashion Week alum supported the idea that high quality, lasting clothing is necessary for prolonged wardrobes. She also believes consumers are readily available to support creative individuals when designing timeless pieces.
Online presence from brands proved to be crucial during the pandemic, Mariah Hodges of Electric Bubblegum explained. The youthful and imaginative eye-catching designer communicated from her newly renovated pink Denver studio that since the pandemic began her online sales increased 75% with loungewear and accessories the most sought-after items. “I think fashion is going to become more lounge,” the effervescent designer explained. “I think there will be a decrease in formal wear due to events, which is sad.” The year-round designer plans to continue her seasonless collections, where hoodies and crop tops are offered throughout the entirety of a year, and she expects the brand’s future fashion shows to be available via online mediums.
Likewise to Electric Bubblegum, Denver streetwear designer Hunter Higgins of Royal Outerwear also commented on the continuation of streetwear clothing and noted loungewear should be expected for seasons to come.
“Loungewear is very popular. Fashion has become more effortless and I think people enjoy that,” Higgins commented. The “Living Like Royalty” brand emphasized the importance of the fashion world slowing down with trends, runway shows and halting an excessive amount of new fabric into the world as new collections arise. “I try to value my time. Environmentally it is good and stress level it is good.”
Altogether, these creative minds sympathized with the rhythmical pattern of change in the fashion world. They understand and take notice of the future of fashion shift and embrace the remodel with open minds, open arms and open hearts.