AW21 Trend Report: Colour therapy, catsuits, XXL totes and more

AW21 Trend Report: Colour therapy, catsuits, XXL totes and more

Sartorial revival

Text: Kelly Lim

Collage: Amos Yip

Fashion in 2021 prioritises feeling good over looking good––these are the key trends to note for the incoming season

The pandemic has upended the world as we know it, and the realm of fashion is no different. In times of crisis and the era of sustainability, fleeting, of-the-moment must-haves are being swapped out for trans-seasonal staples as we shift towards pieces that will fold seamlessly into forever wardrobes. It's one of the reasons why minimalism has taken over in recent years. As consumers focus on shopping with a conscience, designers are manifesting a notion of luxury that is functional and feel-good rather than just ostentatiously opulent.

Barrelling on in a similar vein, this autumn's fashion outlook came with a newfound vision of idealism––after over a year of lockdown and loungewear, it seems that a sartorial revival is on the horizon as the industry gears up in energetic excitement for re-emergence. No matter how different the collections looked, one feeling resounded throughout: we're in the mood for fashion and ready to go all out. Life is for living after all, and whether you want to cosy yourself in blankets of knits or show off some skin in an itty-bitty dress that's dripping in escapist Y2K nostalgia, this season's fashion will be there to deliver. While a small number of trends focused on visual impact, comfort and ease were the order of the day across looks that work for every style, gender and silhouette. Clothes look better when you feel good on the inside, and the AW21 runways couldn't have expressed it better.

Scroll on for a round-up of the AW21 trends to know––they're guaranteed to give you an endorphin hit lasting longer than a sugar rush:


Gone are the dark hues of the fall season and in its place? Dopamine dressing is in full swing with palettes of bold brights seen all over the runways this season. From crayola shades to neon at Prada, Versace and Bottega Veneta, colour blocking was everything. It's true, you can dress yourself happy, so choose your favourite colour and go monosyllabic. As the inventor of "shocking pink", Elsa Schiaparelli put it: "In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous".


Combining comfort with confidence, one-piece wonders were everywhere to be seen on the AW21 runways. In the hands of Mugler, they manifested as sheer, sexy garments with nude illusion panels that transformed its wearers into stalking panthers, while knit bodysuits found a place at Givenchy and Courrèges for an outfit of ease. Artful patterns were all over onesies from brands like Ottolinger and Knwls. Whatever size or shape you are, bodysuits are here to adapt to your body and flatter the figure. 


Duvets were reincarnated as ponchos, capes and shawls as designers found a myriad of ways for us to cover up in cosiness come fall. Oversized was the keyword at Marc Jacobs, while Missoni and Gabriela Hearst brought body blankets with stripes, fringe and neutrals. If you ain't ready to part with your bed, enveloping knits are your solution. 


These looks may not be weather appropriate for Malaysia, but practical, protective layers were big for the upcoming season in the form of quilted coats and padded puffers which were dialled up in extreme sports styles. The bigger, the better it seems as evidenced at brands from Prada and Balenciaga to Chanel. Outerwear came in every shape and form, from longline coats to cropped jackets and even salopettes. 


Whether people are returning to offices or still working remotely, tailoring was refreshed in a multitude of ways to make the appeal of smart suiting stronger than ever. From upbeat colourways to baggy, relaxed silhouettes and pleated skirts, the options are endless with no particular cut or era in domination. Stella McCartney re-introduced '70s flares, while the strong shoulders of the '80s returned at Balmain and Isabel Marant. Over in New York, brands from The Row to Proenza Schouler presented the clean, hardworking styles of the '90s for a more refined, pared back aesthetic. 


The return of the super-mini has been a long time coming. Like cut-outs and crop tops, the antithesis of sweatpants is the sartorial iteration of 'Hot Vax Summer' as brands from Chanel to Lanvin and Valentino presented thigh-baring skirts and micro-dresses in celebration of post-Covid freedom. For an alternative styling option, take cues from the designers in Milan and layer it over a pair of trousers to bring your outfit to the next level.   


Knits are ever-present for the fall but this season they came in head-to-toe types and floor-grazing sweaters to reflect the growing demand for comfortable but dressier attire. From Chloé to Fendi, super-feminine modern silhouettes came through across soft tonal shades for an effortlessly chic 'fit. 


Florals for AW21? Groundbreaking! Designers showcased a bevy of winter blooms across ruffled dresses and prim blouses with offbeat drapery and layers as seen at Yuhan Wang, Y/Project and Acne Studios. Botanical prints came in all kinds of shades and prints, paired with ruched stitching to chiffon and smocked silhouettes to add a touch of decorative charm after summer ends. 


Shoes were all about reaching for the skies, as platforms and knee-high boots were all over the catwalks to make us all stand tall. From chunky Mary-Janes to pearl-studded loafers and metallic boots, accessories were all about adding a little height (and drama) to make a statement. 


Times have truly changed and to match our new habits, serious, everyday bags arrived in XXL sizes to carry the load of outing essentials that include anti-bac gels, masks and reusable water bottles on top of our keys, phones and wallets. From Marni to Gucci, supersize leather goods led the pack in classic colours and different types of straps to accompany us in ease and style––a chic companion that will stay with us for a long, long time. 

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