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“Escapism” : How Fashion Can Provide The Break-Free Moments We Are Craving For

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Aren’t we all tired of hearing about the pandemic ? Don’t we all feel the temptation to let go of everything and escape somewhere far away and untouched ? But where to, and how ? 


Physically moving away proves difficult considering all the restrictions in place... It’s actually easier and sometimes just as efficient to escape mentally from this stressful situation! Many indulge in “retail therapy” to cope with it.


Since many physical stores are closed, browsing online publications and buying on e-commerce platforms can naturally provide instant -or almost- satisfaction. A phenomenon that is well illustrated by Pinterest’s strong earnings in Q3 2020 , explained by “a rise in online shopping, and people seeking an escape from a grim news cycle”.


Swimwear, Escapewear & Summer Dreams

Despite all the travel restrictions, sales of swimwear and flip-flops surprisingly increased in summer 2020. In the UK bikinis and swim shorts sales were up by 22% year-on-year in July 2020. 

Beyond consumers planning for staycations by the pool, buying a new swimsuit became a statement: a way to celebrate, no matter what, the ability to escape the current reality and to project oneself into leisurely, sunny and positive moments. 


Waiting for Summer 🌴First SS21 purchase @dior 🤩 #diorpalms 

A quick search on our software revealed a sustained interest for summer all year long, with peaks of mentions at the end of spring.


Brands have capitalized on another frontier of the summer dream from consumers deprived of sunshine, space and freedom of movement: the beach.


Create your own escape. Wear the sun, sea and sand.

As Who What Wear pointed out: “Escapism was a theme that many designers explored for SS21. No-one did this as literally as Versace, which had bejewelled starfish emblazoned on dresses and high fashion Hawaiian shirts. […] Think literal beach prints, high-end beach bags and platform espadrilles.” (in “Spring/Summer 2021 Trends: The Most Important Fashion Looks You Need to Know”)

Hélas, a skate clothing company, released a beach-themed shirts in spring 2021 collection, catering to users’ “needs for escape after a year of restrictions”, while Tombolo glorified the mythical Hawaiian shirt spirit, promoting a variation of « escapewear », a word also used by fashion players such as  Azzea Clothing, Colca or Hattie.

escapism-fashion-vogue escapism-fashion-hawaian

In the luxury arena, Loewe, through its collaboration with Paula’s Ibiza (43K online posts in 2020) or Dior with its beachwear collection “Dioriviera” (2K posts) are fully played on users’ aspiration for a never-ending summer and long-lasting holidays


The #Dioriviera capsule collection by @MariaGraziaChiuri sets off on a journey to the seaside where it's perpetually sunny and warm. The escapism portrayed in this series of photographs by @Pamela_Hanson showcases the essentials in the House's summer wardrobe

French company Palem’s escape collection associates the promise of an “endless summer” to light or colorful clothes inspired by exotic places.


Dreaming of travelling in our Malu dress - incomparable softness and drape with a batik inspired print… We feel in Bali already 🌴

escapism-fashion-palem  E S C A P E •

The allure of an explorer, codes of chic wandering.

#palemthebrand #endlesssummer #palemwomen #escape #collection #escapewear #holiday #explorer #nature #ootd #style #palm #escapefashion

The Evocative Power of Nature

Further to  Jacquemus, who celebrated the beauty of open fields, and Burberry’s forest show, Saint Laurent chose the Moroccan desert for its SS Fashion Show. Users resonated with this, praising “an invitation for escapism” and its ode to “freedom of movement.” 


Saint-Laurent’s latest Fall/Winter show continued the same theme, but this time it was set in an empty volcanic landscape in Iceland.



Time Travels through Fashion

Beyond space, the concept of escapism also flourishes less literally. 

Think of the remarkable success of Netflix’s Bridgerton since December 2020. Its clothes, created by the multi-awarded costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, reshaped many consumers’ views about fashion, setting the trend of “regencycore” (3K online posts since January 2021). This “style of dress inspired by clothes worn by the wealthy in the Regency period“ caught the interest of Tik Tok users, excited about gowns-re-creation.




It also paved the way for a renewed interest in shapewear, a trend promoted by one of the series’ most famous fans, Kim Kardashian.  


Fashion brands were eager to build on the latest spike in nostalgia trends.  As spotted in the New York Times : “There’s always a lot of talk, when it comes to couture, of the value of escapism, and the balm a fairy tale can represent […] And certainly, in the time of Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” it’s hard to argue with the appeal of a really well-dressed fantasy”. Giorgio Armani Privé’s collection or Dior’s 15th century tarot-cards inspired Couture SS21 are prime examples of escapist clothing rooted in historical style. 


Dior haute couture, spring 2021

The fame of history goes, in fact, well beyond the 19th century, as illustrated by the current “Renaissance revival”, hashtags such as #renaissancefashion on Instagram and the growing popularity of fashion labels such as Markarian or Brock. As summarized by Voir Fashion Magazine, “there’s never been a better time to escape back a few centuries and get dressed as if you were 16th-century royalty...


Markarian, AW20 and SS20


How brands can keep ahead of the curve

After more than a year of pandemic-related sorrow and the vaccinations slowly picking up pace, many consumers are feeling that now is the time to rejoice and listen to their inner call for escape. 

Brands can stay relevant and answer that need by crafting out of the ordinary stories set in a distant past, or in sunny and faraway places. Popular series such as Bridgerton and their impact on viewers should be tracked as they become a source of inspiration to launch new escapist clothing items or designs. Finally, recent and emerging trends - such as the escapewear or the Renaissance fashion - and their expression on social media should not remain unnoticed by the fashion industry.



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