Changing Trends in Fashion Design

Designers who get it right hit the jackpot, those who do not fade quickly into obscurity. Store buyers work in advance of the season, trying to predict what their customers will want, and celebrities and socialites are the first to be seen wearing the latest must-have look.

Trends are cyclical and often historic with new looks based on old shapes and concepts. Things we've seen in the past often come back to haunt us in new ways. Spring 2009 runways saw a resurgence of late seventies and early eighties styles, where clothing went from the previous skin-tight, sexy and revealing disco look to a more bohemian, comfortable approach.

So who decides what will be the next new thing?

The answer may be surprising. Designers and store buyers watch what young people are wearing for clues as to what they want to wear. Fashions often catch on in the street before making their way to the runway. If young people start buying big tops and belting them over jeans, it is time to introduce tunics. Fashion is art, but it's also a hugely commercial business, one driven by the whims of consumers. No matter how cool a garment might be on the runway, it must translate to ready-to-wear and droves of people must want to buy it. Without consumer support, the design might as well be a museum piece.

Trend reports published by fashion industry trade groups indicate what styles, colors, and fabrics will be popular for a season in the future. Textile manufacturers use these reports to create the patterns and fabrics that follow the trend predictions, and designers go to the manufacturers or trade shows for early samples of the fabrics to use in creating their new designs.

Upcoming trends to watch for in spring 2009:

  • Jump suits - one piece, figure hugging jump suits made a big comeback on the runway.
  • Dirndl skirts - cinched at the waist and gathered below, these comfortable Bohemian skirts were everywhere.
  • Skinny pants paired with tunic tops - pants that fit tight all the way to the ankle, paired with big tops are back. There were even a few instances of spandex bike shorts!
  • Harem pants - in keeping with the loose, billowy feel, the fashion risk that is harem pants made an appearance on more than a few runways.
  • Peplum waist - this look features a wide waist that begins high, hugs the curve of the waist, and dips down in the front and back to give shape to the hips, Victorian style.
  • Ruffles - lots of ruffles hit the runway, they were everywhere, layer upon layer of frills.
  • Layers - tunics or skirts over pants, layered shirts and vests were big.
  • Sheers - the runways saw a lot of very sheer fabrics. Some layered for a more modest look, others just let it all hang out.
  • Lilac, lavender and chartreuse - soft purples are in, along with chartreuse, that greenish-yellow color that looks good on no one. For a cutting edge look, pair chartreuse with a garish color clash, purple or red.

From the Spring 2009 Mercedez Benz runway shows:

Michael Kors

Vera Wang

Anna Sui

Rosa Cha

Diane Von Furstenburg

Phillip Lim

Zac Posen

Herve Leger

Betsey Johnson



Caroline Herrera

Rock & Republic

BCBG Max Azaria

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