Stripes are an enduring trend, in evidence from the SS18 catwalks to the Resort 2019 collections and on into current street style. From muted tonals to graphic prints, fashion’s love for stripes shows no sign of abating as designers and consumers find fresh variations on a much-loved and beautifully worn theme.
Natural and tonal stripes
Natural fabrics represent a desire for individuality, their imperfections ensuring that no two pieces are ever truly identical, especially on the body as the material moves and shifts while worn. The key to the natural trend is texture, which the stripe complements, adding a cool stamp of confidence to cotton, linens and blends, and elevating natural fabric garments into chic pieces that draw the eye.
The touchstone is a delicate irregularity, with stitch effects interrupting the flow of stripes and breaking up their precision. In one of the signature looks, resort stripes play out on a highly textured cotton backdrop, their traditional appearance subtly distorted and interrupted. The effect is nostalgic but elegant — gently faded, evoking fine linen pyjamas, or vintage-inspired grain sacks. Tonal striped pieces for women are worn together in confident pairings — wide legged trousers or shorts, with bralettes and billowy shirts — loose to allow the fabric to drape and move.
The classic Breton stripe has been updated as a muted stone and beige linen, a staple for blouses and shirt dresses. Seasonless and stylish, this colourway was a key trend in SS19 fabric fairs, with great potential for future developments.
Vertical summer stripes abound, influenced by French ticking in soft pinks, blues and greys and in nautical blue and white with hints of preppy red for both women and men. The fabrics have been refreshed with variations in colour and yarn texture. The softened stripe contributes a subtle restraint to the glamorous silhouettes of Bardot dresses and button-down blouses. Accessories are bolder, but retain natural tones in stripes of pumpkin, cerulean, corn yellow.
In casualwear, accent stripes can add value as a trim. For relaxed tailoring, the fabric’s weave is once again at the fore as cotton and linen blends are used for well-cut trousers. Seersucker and crepe textures add dimension to shirts in understated colour palettes. In formalwear, monochromatic stripes are prevalent, classic and refined. Both smart and casual pieces for men and women are revitalised by tie-inspired patterns. In menswear, the stripe is almost eclipsing the check.
Graphic stripes are bold, with geometric elaborations — vivid colour combinations in a variety of fabrics.
Pastel washed stripes are also in evidence, evoking sun-bleached beachwear. It’s a colourway that also works well for children’s clothing, appearing both smart and playful. Essential fabrics are jersey, fine cotton or knits of mélange yarn. Sport stripes are another variant of the trend. The thick bands of eye-catching colour are inspired by rugby shirts.
Imbricated stripes are another essential aspect to the look: in dynamic, graphic compositions, the lines collide and change direction. They can be cut into contrast panels and used to emphasise a garment’s shape: a striking accent in contemporary women’s clothing as well as pieces for younger, male markets.
The antithesis of the muted, tonal stripe was seen in Elie Saab’s Resort 2019 collection, which Vogue characterised as “French Riviera meets 1970s starlet”. The look is bold, explosive and disco-themed. Key pieces included a high-belted longline dress in jewel-tone stripes of ruby, amethyst and citrine. Rasario’s SS19 collection featured wide-legged trousers with disco-ball, silver stripes of sequins, while Valentino’s 2019 Resort collection featured a striped sequinned minidress. These pieces emblemise the trend for glittery, vivid stripes in rainbow or sequin, that has since regularly appeared in streetwear, clustering at Pride celebrations and diffusing out into summer festivals.
Irregular stripes, woven or printed, are another way to transform the pattern.
Finally, printed materials can take on a painterly look and bleed into other trends, with stripes transforming into elongated and distorted leaf veins, fronds and tiger prints — an artificial return to the natural stripe.
Browse our Stripes Pinterest board to see pieces from the catwalks and collections, as well as streetwear interpretations of classic and graphic stripes. Or simply start demanding the perfect striped fabrics for your collection.
Lilian Marino — Trends & Insights