2019’s spring/summer season promises all kinds of exciting and innovative fabric trends, as evidenced by the samples taking centre stage at this year’s major textile fairs — from Interfilière and Milano Unica to Première Vision, Spinexpo Shanghai and The London Textile Fair.
One textile trend, however, stands out from the rest — not because of its futuristic feel, but, in fact, the very opposite. The affinity for natural fibres, rustic materials and ‘craft fashion’ being showcased at these fairs celebrates Mother Nature in all her unspoiled glory.
This desire to go ‘back to basics’ and embrace simplicity taps into wider trends in consumer behaviour. Along with their demands for greater transparency, Generation Y are kicking back against the constraints of perfection, preferring instead to celebrate quirks and imperfections for their uniqueness. This is part of a whole new movement seen amongst younger people who are generally more willing to accept differences and embrace inclusivity than generations before. Taking a step back from the hectic pace of the digital age to tackle the ‘time poverty’ it fosters, consumers are turning to reflective practices like mindfulness and relishing the time things take to grow, develop and mature.
The consumer desire to slow down and appreciate nature’s virgin qualities as they truly are has not only shaped fabric trends that are growing stronger as we head towards 2019, but it has also placed the issue of sustainability firmly in the spotlight. The promotion of sustainable materials is key to this, but retailers are also realising that if they fail to satisfy consumer demands for garments produced through ethical working practices, they risk losing their following. Authenticity is very much the order of the day, and it’s this theme that unites five of next year’s natural-look fabric trends.
1. Wrinkled and undulating
Wrinkled textures are firmly on trend. Spring/summer 2019 celebrates intriguing tactile surfaces through a range of crinkled and creased looks, evoking the patterns and textures we experience in nature. Puckered textures are also created through plissé effects, incorporating both synthetic and natural fibres, including cupro, viscose and crepe yarns as well as cotton and cotton blends. In a similar vein, pleats and plissé effects work to create rippling surfaces that bring water to mind.
There’s also continued interest in the undulating effects of different fabrics, whether synthetically engineered or purely organic. Watermark prints and patterns are achieved through off-beat weft techniques and tye-dye washes, while the inclusion of metallic yarns enhance the iridescent, liquid effect of the textiles themselves. On a lighter, more relaxed note, crepe textures and raised seersucker checks and stripes have a subtle undulating look and feel. From the foamy waves of the sea to ripples on a lake, these effects are a sensual delight to drink in.
2. Natural imperfections
This movement is all about a return to simplicity, inspiring textiles that celebrate all that is natural and authentic: the vegetal look. From undyed and raw cotton and denim bases to natural, low-impact linens, this trend not only responds to growing consumer demand for sustainable eco practices, but it also taps in to a desire for a look that is simple yet elegant. Organic, unprocessed and positively revelling in their natural imperfections, linen-look cloths and vegetal, natural yarns radiate effortless confidence.
There are a plethora of different kinds of fabrics whose imperfections are key to their inherent charm. From the tantalising touch of jacquard weaves and basket structures to the flecks and quirks of micro dobbies (especially with the added depth of slubbed and nepped yarns), designers really are spoiled for choice.
At the same time, nubucks offer a refreshed twist on traditional suede, so softly brushed they exude comfort and class. Likewise, while yarns may appear raw at first glance, there’s a quiet preference for super soft finishes that takes the wearer by surprise.
3. Space dye and neps
The clever use of space dye imbues lightweight knits with mottled pebble effects, mossy patterns and surfaces like speckled eggs. These effects, in slubbed bouclé and tactile plush, as well as nep constructions, form a key part of this trend. Spring/summer 2019 sees strong palettes of bold colours artfully woven together, celebrating the riot of hues we see as the frost melts away and the blooms spring up around us. Playful, contemporary and confident, the versatility of printed yarns creates effects that vary from airy and ethereal to verdant and fresh.
The effects of faded marl space dye lend jerseys and denims a classic sun-bleached look. Jersey constructions, from sportif double-faced, single and fleece, along with subtler tweed looks are worked in cotton blends.
Coloured neps also work to create broad, blurred, brush effects and simply cry out to be caressed. Dappled effects bring spring sunshine to mind, while creams and pale browns recall the natural beauty of marble and stone.
4. Rustic reimagined
Younger generations are increasingly turning to the idylls of rural living wherever they happen to be, opting for organic groceries, ethically sourced products and sustainably farmed meat and fish. Perhaps as a result of these interests, they’re turning to rustic, country looks in fashion, and this penchant for modern rusticity is very much in evidence in spring/summer 2019’s textile trends. Light linens, complete with sun-faded finishes and hatched effects, subtly nod to a bygone era but with a refreshingly modern twist: the addition of viscose, for example, gives linen a really contemporary feel. Blends with Tencel are even softer to the touch, whilst appearing more fluid and promoting greater sustainability. Whitewashed effects, with just a hint of shine, capture the iridescence of dew on petals. Subtlety really is the order of the day, with quiet greys and lightly dyed yarns taking centre stage. Again, Tencel and polyester, work in cotton blends to create a more flowing look.
But it’s not just linen and cotton that typify this trend. Other natural and vegetal fibres, including sensual hand-finished silks, also form part of this desire for authenticity and simplicity. Wool, cashmere and alpaca are popular too, and numerous organisations worldwide are working to put animal rights and environmentally friendly practices at the top of the agenda when it comes to production.
5. Denim rediscovered
Denim has always captured cool yet casual, and designers are taking a classic and creating new variations on a theme for spring/summer 2019. Stone-washed techniques and faded marl space-dye effects give denim a sun-bleached look, while indigo-look linens honour nature’s deeper palettes, like the dark night sky. Sea green hues are reminiscent of the ocean, and Chambray’s classic, honest qualities inspire beautiful woven shirtings, showcasing both stripes and checks. At the same time, textured plain materials feel soft to the touch and well worn to the eye. The classic twill is available in a range of different variants and weights that have been crafted especially for tailoring. Basket weave and herringbone constructions work to create a truly rustic finish.
Sustainable denim production is also becoming a priority within the industry, partly thanks to The Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD), a collaborative initiative established in Amsterdam. ARD is leading the way when it comes to championing a cleaner, more sustainable system of production: objectives include scaling up the use of recycled denim that help reduce the amount of water, chemicals and waste generated in the production of this timeless classic. The benefits of incorporating Lyocell, created through closed loop production, into denim blends is another strong example of the industry’s move towards greater sustainability without compromising on quality.
For further inspiration and to find out more about what lies ahead, take a look at our Natural Craft Pinterest board -- these are, of course, just a few of the exciting fabric trends that will come to define Spring/Summer 2019. To start discovering new materials every day, sign up to our platform.