Usually, around this time of year, 303 Magazine serves readers a roundup of the past year’s hottest trends, like this one on the blazers and animal print that reigned in 2019. This year, though, the fashion industry saw a shift; Kitchens and living rooms became offices and virtually all shopping was done from home. Take a look at the pandemic-inspired fashion trends that this unconventional year has produced and how to find them locally:
The Lowdown: The face coverings used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 have become this year’s newest fashion accessory. Designers and brands are selling masks for all occasions, and many shoppers have a selection to coordinate with their outfits.
Mimi Shim, a locally based designer currently selling a “Lux” collection of cozy loungewear has also branched into selling masks — they’re currently available at “Matriarch, which is located inside the Base Coat location in Five Points.”
The Lowdown: Comfy, stylish clothes went from a luxury to a necessity when stay-at-home orders were put in place. Sweat combos, leggings and other cozy pieces became the most sought-after attire for long days spent at home.
Denver designer Crystal Lee described her brand C.R. LEE as “a lifestyle brand for women with a unique sense of style who appreciate a classic but have the guts to try something new. My customer values quality and luxury but they know how to make comfy chic a look.” This year, Lee has pivoted from custom and one-of-a-kind garments into expanding her ready-to-wear collection of hoodies and joggers.
TOMBOI, C.R. LEE’s new athleisure line, was “inspired by the tomboy aesthetic married with a refined sophistication,” said Lee. “Offering a more relaxed or ‘home’ version of the C.R. LEE aesthetic just made sense because of this shift to being home more.”
Mimi Shim Studio’s Lux Line of loungewear compliments her masks and is perfect for stylish, comfortable days spent at home. Shim commented on the merits of “clothing that is comfortable enough to wear lounging around the house, but looks great when you have to Zoom into work or run out for the essentials.” She continued, stating that she’s “not sure if this trend will go away any time soon.”
The Lowdown: Although the online shopping industry was already booming pre-pandemic, the existence of internet stores have allowed people to buy their favorite things and keep up with the trends while staying home.
Vanessa Barcus of Talisman Fine Jewelry has had to “pivot to focus more on direct-to-consumer sales than I ever was before,” she said. She formerly owned Goldyn, a boutique with a storefront in LoHi. After closing the store, she decided to focus less on retail and more on wholesaling to other businesses. “But with retailers oftentimes in a bind themselves right now, I had no option but to get more e-commerce going and reconnect with some of those old customers.” Like Barcus, many online businesses are happy to not be dealing with the expenses of owning a physical storefront during the pandemic. “I haven’t had a storefront since closing Goldyn, and boy am I grateful to not have that overhead right now!”
Hollier of Balefire Goods and Geeklery said that her brands “always had an online presence but the need for a diversity of ways to engage with us has grown.” These include online booking for virtual meetings, remote shopping assistance and local delivery dressed as holiday elves. Balefire Goods is a local, award-winning gallery and Geeklery combined jewelry with the world of pop culture and fandoms.
While Balefire has offered metalsmithing classes in the past, they’ve adjusted these as well. “We are hosting only private jewelry making workshops/classes [and] offer take home jewelry making kits,” said Hollier.
The “Kindness Economy”:
The Lowdown: Many small businesses have chosen to support local and national causes that help those most adversely affected this year. Some shoppers are also basing their decisions about where to shop on the philanthropic activities of businesses.
Meçlâ Soyer-Kaplan’s clothing line Meçlâ uses natural fibers and focuses “on designing modern silhouette’s made for comfort and versatility.” They donate to We Made This, a non-profit that helps local refugees integrate through a multi-cultural sewing program. Headbands made by one of their artisans are available on Meçlâ’s website.
Hollier said that Balefire and Geeklery have continued to support nonprofit causes this year as they have for years in the past. These include many related to food security, equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, local animal shelters and local art organizations. “This is one of the important aspects for shopping small and local,” she said. She also pointed out that research shows that small businesses “support local causes 250% more than big corporations.”
Kaeleigh Testwiude, owner and founder of private jewelry office The Diamond Reserve, makes sure to source everything locally as a way to give back to the community. “All our jewelry is handmade in Denver. Our entire marketing team is local, and when we are looking to contract, we only look to local,” she said. “Denver is filled with so many innovative and creative thinkers. I think it is extremely important to source from this amazing community any and all services I need as a business owner.”
The “giving-back model has been embedded in the sustainable, ethically made, slow fashion community pre-pandemic,” said Mimi Shim. “As for me, I have given back this year more than past years. I’ve also made it a rule for myself to buy within the local community first,” she said.
Angel Johnson of ICONI, a Denver-based activewear line, has always admired founders and CEOs that give back, like Blake Mycoskie of TOMS. “I told myself that if I ever started a business, I would give back just like Blake Mycoskie,” Johnson said. 10% of her business’ profits go back to nonprofit organizations. ICONI stands for I Can Overcome, Nothing’s Impossible. They’ve donated to Clothes to Kids of Denver, the Minnesota Freedom Fund and Healing Wings Foundation this year.
Diverted Luxury Budgets
The Lowdown: With the pandemic complicating large gatherings, most 2020 weddings were either postponed or downsized. Most wedding trends erred on the simpler side, whether it was an elopement, a small ceremony with family, or a wedding with virtual components. Some local jewelry companies are seeing increases in budgets for wedding and engagement rings as people divert large budgets into smaller luxury items. Hollier’s also seen a high number of engagements this year. “People see that they can quarantine together so that bodes well for marriage,” she said.
Testwuide of The Diamond Reserve said that “since people have not been traveling as much they have more of a budget to put towards retail shopping.” Her private jewelry office has been doing virtual diamond consultations throughout the pandemic, doing their part to keep up with these trends.
The Lowdown: Testwiude also commented that there’s been an upward swing this year in the sales of “dainty symbolic jewelry.” Shoppers seem to be “hanging onto different symbols that represent different religious and spiritual beliefs, ones they believe protect them, carry them, or give them a glimmer of hope.”