While the ordering season for SS24 is just coming to an end, the next season is already in the starting blocks. In a webinar hosted by trend research institute Fashion Snoops and Informa Markets Fashion, trend expert Nia Silva gave first insights into the cultural signals, consumer sentiments and the four emerging design aesthetics that will shape sourcing trends for AW24/25.
Sentimental - a nostalgic journey into the past
The first design aesthetic presented by Silva for AW24/25 is called Sentimental. This theme focuses on the namesake sentimentality and the art of craftsmanship. Sentimental offers a nostalgic yet modern take on breathing new life into traditional design and fabrics as modern heirlooms.
Silva grounds nostalgic sentimentality in what the sourcing expert calls two fundamental cultural signals. "The first is Craft Care, which highlights the craft and wellness movement as a new way of looking at design." This interweaves the fields of craft and wellness and introduces a novel approach to design that finds solace in the mindfulness of craft and the therapeutic act of restoration.
The second signal, Mythical Meaning, recalls the wisdom of past eras and anchoring oneself in ancient practices to face the uncertainties of the present. "More than ever, brands are revisiting the origins of their products, from raw materials sourced through ancient, regenerative agricultural practices, to incorporating time-honoured artisanal techniques and fabrics that can add charm to the range,”, said Silva. "The goal is to take some of the richness, skills and thinking of the past to pave a way into the future of design."
Translated into materials, Sentimental expresses itself primarily in artisan fabrics and vintage pieces. A major focus is on what the material expert called "upcycled fabrics, recycled metals and old embellishments woven into the fabrics like little vignettes from the past or a meaningful story."
Weaving techniques showcase tactile artistry through interwoven threads of varying textures and the use of ethically harvested silk, regenerative cotton fibres and unadulterated, chemical-free wool also brings sustainability into focus.
Sentimental explores surfaces that feature a rich variety of textures, blending eras and cultures to create innovative, time-honoured techniques. The surfaces are highlighted by the deliberate inclusion of wear and fraying, creating a tangible connection to history, used for both denim and wool fabrics. The focus on craftsmanship in design also extends to repair techniques such as patching, sewing and darning in knitwear, breathing new life into archival materials.
The colouring of design aesthetics "almost feels like a window to the soul or a casket of treasured heirlooms," she stated. Specifically, this means using familiar and stealthy warm colours, from bold forest tones to buttery creams to dark, saturated reds.
Immersive - nature meets technology
While Sentimental dealt with the past, the second design aesthetic, Immersive, is a fusion of natural spectacles and cutting-edge technology. Nature is at the centre, but it is depicted through a high-resolution lens with vibrant digital colours and 3D textures.
Web3, one of the cultural cues this aesthetic conjures up, is on everyone's lips at the moment, so it's hardly surprising that sourcing trends are also inspired by it. Then there is Made to Morph, a change-based signal that Silva describes as a response to economic and environmental instability. This is aimed in particular at all those who are looking for products that adapt to every situation, resulting in highly sensitive, functional materials.
Immersive materials are characterised by an extremely diverse range of yarn textures and pigments that resemble natural and virtual ecosystems. Dyeing is the focus, with processes offering sustainable yet commercially viable results, she says. Bio-based alternatives, faux fur and vibrant prints convey the fascination of the natural world.
Surfaces provoke a hyper-stimulating experience by mimicking microscopic intricacies and featuring tactile design. Shiny materials, such as sequins, iridescent ribbons and reflective prints dominate the overall look, and heat-sensitive, changeable surfaces also take centre stage.
Nature is represented in garish hues, evoking microscopic imitations of the natural environment. Warm as well as vibrant greens, pinks and blues evoke a celestial yet austere view of reality and create a transition of the seasons.
Chaos - uncertainty and unpolished design
Chaos is the latest and most emotionally charged of the four design aesthetics for AW24/25. Chaos celebrates the possibilities that arise from uncertainty and invites you to engage in unpolished design that pushes conventional boundaries. Drawing inspiration from the current climate of political unrest, cultural polarisation, climate change and economic uncertainty, this aesthetic urges us to find the beauty in imperfection.
"We look for textures that break, ashen patterns, fragmented constructions, the imperfect, brutalist forms and industrial craftsmanship to inspire design for the future,” Silva explained.
One of the most important cultural signals is the growing distrust of younger consumers towards hierarchies and institutions, the anti-establishment movement. Consumers are demanding more transparency and honesty in the supply chain, fair labour practices and the use of resources to redress environmental and social imbalances. In addition, there is a signal that Silva calls Brutal Ambiguity. The signal raises the question of how to use uncertainty as an opportunity for innovation, and challenges companies to adapt to constant change and foster innovation and resilience.
The materials of the Chaos aesthetic are characterised by an industrial-like precision and correspond to the post-pandemic mentality of being ready for anything. Innovations like needle punching and 3D printing make for lighter and more resilient results. Circular knitwear, for example, is made from regenerated waste fibres and is both sustainable and durable, and developing highly functional yarns, such as aramid fibres, are designed to protect against extreme conditions.
Surfaces are made from recycled materials and feature laser-cut textures that add a rough touch to tactility. Worn denims and engineered flocking enhance grip and flexibility, while thermoplastic moulding modifies the structures to provide protection from unpredictable elements, at least visually.
"When we embrace the chaos aesthetic, we find liberation in imperfection, a bold departure from traditional design and a celebration of innovation and resilience in the face of uncertainty,” Silva summed up the trend.
The colour palette reflects the drama and energy of the environment, with intense, fiery reds and oranges alongside dark, earthy hues. At the heart of the palette are softer neutrals, complemented by bright hues that convey a "sense of natural optimism".
Fragility - strong vulnerability
The latest design aesthetic, Fragility, is a departure from previous trends but equally relevant, said Silva. With delicate and soft design that should in no way be mistaken for weakness, Fragility celebrates imperfection and emphasises a sense of vulnerability alongside resilience. Wellness takes centre stage, nurturing and comforting with a choice of fabrics and finishes.
Cultural signals include the Divine Feminine movement, which emphasises nurturing and intuitive qualities and urges companies to prioritise social and environmental responsibility. “The recognition of supposedly feminine characteristics such as intuition, nurturing and emotional intelligence are crucial here,” commented the expert on the cautious trend. “Inspired by the concern that we all have, femininity movements are pushing companies to act through social and environmentally friendly procurement and production methods to become better stewards of the world."
The Comfort of Solitude signal reflects a growing appreciation for peace, relaxation and introspection, which are also present in practices such as meditation or digital minimalism and the avoidance of constantly being online. Consumers are increasingly choosing wellness-oriented product categories such as loungewear, activewear and underwear.
Fragile surfaces define craftsmanship with highly detailed techniques and slow processes. Finely considered metal stitches and coatings decorate surfaces with simple elegance and shine. Surface treatments without water and dyes are becoming increasingly important and promote environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. In shoes and accessories, studs and ties are formed into lush clusters, while quilting with lighter and less pronounced stitches and appliqués creates calm.
The colour palette for *Fragility* exudes a delicate expression of strength and subtlety, with light, bright neutrals and rich natural tones. Shady midtones ground the entire spectrum and fulfil consumers' desire for materials that “nourish the mind, body and soul.”
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.DE. Translation and edit: Rachel Douglass.