Top Trends of 2012

Are these trends the next “it” items or just the start of something big? Here’s a look at what apparel has in store for next year. There’s a post-modern notion in fashion right now that there are no such things as trends.

Fashion moves too fast, the argument goes. Old ideas are recycled so often that there isn’t anything new. Broad changes in fashion are now “stories” or “directions” – wide-sweeping characterizations that supposedly go beyond mere trend.

Buy that notion if you want. It does not erase the fact that apparel distributors must display their expertise to clients – not just what has sold well, but what will command attention in the future. By identifying what is popular at retail and in the world at large, we can come up with ideas that will shape the future. Those are honest-to-goodness trends, and they still matter. 

Of course, not all trends are created equal. Some are ramping up, some are powering down and some are at the height of their popularity. Here’s just a few to consider:

Dusters and Trench coats
Dusters have their roots in the Old West and trenches hail back to World War I, but both long coats have earned eternal status in the winter fashion menagerie. Designers continue to tweak them – playing with hem lengths, varying colors and shapes – so that each year they pop up on the fall fashion radar. What’s the difference between the two? Dusters tend to be longer with a more sweeping silhouette; trench coats are recognizable by their buttons, tie fronts and cinched shapes. (That, of course, hasn’t prevented designers from melding the two looks). Bottom line: Not only are these coats insanely fashionable, they are also highly practical.

Khaki Americana
America loves history – in particular its own. That’s why the Americana trend continues to have legs, because designers are so eager to revisit the signature looks of our country’s past. While denim continues to be the pre-eminent fabric of the Americana revival (and will be until time immemorial), khaki has emerged as a central figure in the trend. It’s versatile enough to be used in a variety of products and can be combined with all sorts of modern tweaks (distressed details, cargo pockets, etc.). Plus, it dovetails nicely with the ever-enduring military aesthetic. Uniforms with a vintage look are a perfect vehicle for khaki, but this fabric marvel excels with practically any rugged work-wear option. 

Anoraks and Hoods
Traditionally speaking, an anorak is a hooded rain- coat. But generally it describes a wide range of outerwear and pullovers – everything from light waterproof jackets to the heaviest of winter parkas. The key element in all of this is from the neck up – hoods, raised collars and cowls. After hoodies skyrocketed to popularity this past decade, it’s no surprise that the popular look has transitioned back to outerwear and fleeces. Not only does it serve a practical function in guarding against the elements, but it also creates a distinctive silhouette that is part of fashion’s current rebellion against everything sleek and slim. And with this trend, your neck won’t be on the line.

Graphic Crewneck Sweatshirts
The resurgence of crewneck sweatshirts has been promised over and over again – but, alas, it’s only been talk. Well finally, this trend is beginning to see the light. (Maybe because we’re removing the hoods from our eyes.) Crewneck sweatshirts got ample attention on the spring 2012 show runways, thanks to a very simple, collegiate- inspired aesthetic. You know the look: screen-printed names and mascots, clean decoration, nothing too over- wrought. (John Belushi, his famous “College” sweatshirt and his bottle of Jack come to mind.) In addition to schools, which are a no-brainer, a multitude of casual settings will eat up this ’80s-inspired look.