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Pastels & Patterns: An Intimate Look At NYFW’s Emerging Trends

By Jaclyn Lupo

Despite all the challenges 2020 has served, New York Fashion Week persisted. With New York City being the fashion capital of the world, the industry leaders and local government were willing to modify the event so designers would still have the chance to celebrate their newest collections. To comply with Governor Cuomo’s safety guidelines, the shows were debuted as a virtual experience, with a limited in-person audience. The shows have been streamed on according to a specific schedule. The film productions have allowed designers to showcase their fashion in more imaginative ways than a traditional runway show permits. Never before have I been able to experience the iconic week, but this new presentation format has given anybody access. Even better, brands can broaden their audiences and form more intimate connections with their customers. We must take a moment to reflect on the way this industry is reinventing itself, and changing for the better.

Now, let’s talk about the essence of the shows. For the Spring/Summer 2021 season, it is clear designers collectively want the woman they dress to feel empowered. The models catch the attention of the camera with a fierce glow in their eyes. There are allusions to an alternative, more perfect society. Given the context of these shows, designers are envisioning a world where all genders and races are appreciated and celebrated. The focus is on the potential of the woman in the clothes, rather than just her aesthetics. Emerging trends challenge tradition by suggesting women need to celebrate their femininity in a way that allows their voices to be heard and cherished.

Here’s a guide to what’s next in fashion:

Pastel Colors

With all the global chaos happening today, these soothing color palettes provided a sense of tranquility. The pastels made their way onto the carpet in multiple shows, and each look served a dreamy experience. They provided a gentle touch to the runway. Badgley Mischka, an American label, served an array of evening gowns done in a gorgeous pale pink fabric. These soft, delicate hues have been popular in recent years, and no doubt they will populate the streets yet again.

Powerful Suits

Blazers are all the rage this year. By choosing to focus on this traditionally masculine style, designers are suggesting that the stereotypes are outdated. However, the femininity of the models was not sacrificed. If anything, labels like RVNG, a luxury brand headed by designer James Stewart, successfully accentuated the woman’s beauty despite the long-established presumption that a suit is intended for a man.

Bold patterns and prints

From florals to stripes, a feminine silhouette made with a loud textile is everything. Tadashi Shoji, an American-Japanese designer, debuted her all-over print floral dresses in an array of greenery with soft piano music. Jason Wu, a designer based in New York City, showed his loud prints on a boardwalk through a jungle of greens. Similarly, Veronica Beard exhibited her flowery dresses in a grass field. The escapist settings and fun patterns denoted the designers’ urges to use clothes as a way to evoke joy. Shoji, Wu, and Beard, vividly depicted the female as vibrant and an optimist. Considering the tragedies that have recently struck, this trend conveys fashion has the power to uplift our spirits.

Monochromatic Looks

Jonathan Simkhai, a modern luxury label, and Adeam, an American-Japanese brand by Hanako Maeda, proved that when an outfit is made up entirely of one color, the effect is effortlessly chic. Both labels chose to focus on soft hues for these styles, specifically a cool taupe. This is one of the easiest ways to elevate an outfit since it simply involves focusing on a single color. It is especially tasteful when contrasting textures of the same shade are worn together. For example, Simkhai paired knit, cotton, and leather to add depth to his monochromatic styling.

Voluminous Silhouettes

From wide pants to big sleeves, the woman was being dressed to dominate at NYFW. Sleeves in particular have gained popularity through the last seasons, and they will not be going away anytime soon. Macgraw, an Australian label, did a beautiful job creating voluminous garments while preserving the true essence of femininity. The clothes allowed her models to demand space, respectfully. The cuts granted permission for the woman’s body to be appreciated politely.


Sweatsuits are defining 2020. With staying home being the cool thing to do, a comfortable sweat set is what everybody wants. At NYFW, designers got creative, and it was hard to find a show that didn’t highlight some version of the trendy sweatsuit. Radarte, a label known for its lacey skirts and whimsical dresses, showed a sweatsuit featuring the French phrase “J’amie Radarte”. It’s cute, and wearable for a night out in the town, or a day spent in bed. Brands are breaking free from tradition to get in on this iconic look. Seriously, anyone can get involved with this trend, and the possibilities are endless.

All in all, September’s NYFW confirms the fashion industry is unstoppable. Designers easily adapted, and presented notable collections despite the many challenges this year has surfaced. Here’s the final question: how will you be incorporating these emerging trends into your wardrobe?

Jaclyn Lupo is an editorial trend forecaster passionate about fashion, sustainability, and culture.

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