12 fashion trends that will define autumn/winter 2020

How is autumn shaping up in the style stakes? First up, we’re primed for a…

How is autumn shaping up in the style stakes? First up, we’re primed for a return to craftwork. Besides acres of knitwear and a revival of age-old lacework in the hands of next-gen trailblazers, there was a newfound love affair for all things fringed across the four fashion capitals. (Yes, we’re seeing the fringe-appreciation Reels take over our Instagram feed, too.)

The incoming mood isn’t just about high-drama, head-turning style, however. As New York’s revival of trim single-breasted tailoring proved, there’s a lot to be said for characterful dressing that whispers rather than shouts. During February’s fashion month, the catwalks also offered a fresh reminder of the freedom that fashion can bring — to show acres of flesh and take full ownership of dress codes that were once the hallmark of the male gaze, or swaddle yourself entirely with face-protective layers and enormous voluminous proportions.

Here’s everything you need to know about the season ahead.

1. The trend: face-covering clothing

Marine Serre Autumn/Winter 2020 (left and right), Yeezy Autumn Winter 2020 (centre)

© Photography Go Runway

Where we’ve seen it:

Yeezy, Maison Margiela, Marine Serre, Comme des Garçons

What you need to know:

While it’s highly unlikely that the design brains at Maison Margiela, Yeezy and Marine Serre had COVID-19 on their minds when they first began work on their AW20 collections, it became increasingly evident that the face-concealing jackets, knits and headgear showcased on their runways tapped into an emerging desire for our clothes to create a protective barrier, no matter how ephemeral. The cast-iron rule for AW20? In addition to adopting the new outerwear silhouette, WEAR A MASK.

2. The trend: fringing

Bottega Veneta, Prada and Alberta Ferretti AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Bottega Veneta, Prada, Jil Sander, Dior, Alberta Ferretti, Area

What you need to know:

The abundance of fringing that adorned everything—from evening dresses to blazers, trim pencil skirts and knitted capes to tactile clutch bags—is the polar opposite to the loungewear that so many of us wore throughout the entirety of spring. As the number of designers showcasing the power of trailing tassels grew exponentially during fashion month, the message was clear: clothing that celebrates movement (especially dancing, even if it’s in your living room) remains top of the AW20 trend agenda.

3. The trend: visible underpinnings

Victoria Beckham, Burberry and Christopher Kane AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Saint Laurent, Victoria Beckham, Burberry, Christopher Kane

What you need to know:

Runway sightings of Kendall Jenner had already become increasingly rare by fashion month back in February, but when the model stepped on to Burberry’s AW20 catwalk in support of friend Riccardo Tisci, she laid claim to one of the most appealing trends to experiment with in the comfort of your own home.

The supermodel’s look, which championed the outerwear potential of the bra (Jenner sported an underwired check body alongside a sinuous white pencil skirt) formed part of 2020’s ready-to-wear spin on delicately hewn ‘underwear’. Elsewhere in London, breakout womenswear designer Nensi Dojaka reconfigured the ephemeral bralet at Fashion East, while over in Paris, Anthony Vaccarello teamed second-skin vinyl pants with intricate lace camisoles and more than a hint of Helmut Newton-esque kink.

4. The trend: upscale volume

JW Anderson, Simone Rocha and Richard Quinn AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Fendi, Simone Rocha, Comme des Garçons, JW Anderson, Richard Quinn, Alexander McQueen, Christopher John Rogers, Area

What you need to know:

From cocooning eveningwear (seen at Simone Rocha, Richard Quinn and JW Anderson) to exaggerated balloon sleeves (no one did it better than Fendi), the AW20 shows saw many designers using voluminous silhouettes to underscore the importance of women taking up space and being ‘seen’. While these scaled-up proportions are also a means for the fashion industry’s most renowned talents to exhibit serious artisanal flair and the mood-lifting power of colour, the new volume narrative is most definitely about the woman beneath. The added perk? Consider the enlarged sleeve a not-so-subtle reminder to strangers to maintain a safe social distance.

5. The trend: knitted gowns

Jil Sander, Agona and Bottega Veneta AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Jil Sander, Agnona, Bottega Veneta, Balmain, Altuzarra, Alexander McQueen

What you need to know:

Joan Didion’s influence over fashion was felt keenly in Phoebe Philo’s Céline collections and later in the 2015 campaign that Didion herself starred in for the house. For autumn/winter 2020, we’re turning once again to the most admired piece in the acclaimed American writer’s fashion playbook — the ankle-grazing knit dress. Agnona, Bottega Veneta and Jil Sander’s luxurious textural knit gowns are more than worthy of a modern-day homage to photographer Julian Wasser’s legendary shot of Didion leaning against the side of a Corvette Stingray in front of her Hollywood home back in 1968. Make this your wintertime answer to ultra-comfortable WFH attire.

6. The trend: pared-back metallics

Burberry Autumn/Winter 2020, Christopher Kane Autumn/Winter 2020, Salvatore Ferragamo Autumn/Winter 2020

© Photography Go Runway

Where we’ve seen it:

Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Christopher Kane, No. 21, Burberry, Isabel Marant

What you need to know:

There was something meme-worthy about AW20’s approach to bedazzling eveningwear (even back in February, which now seems a lifetime ago). The scenario? You’re half-dressed for the party of a lifetime (also known as a socially distanced gathering with the five other members of your support bubble), but you might also stay in and rewatch Succession in a hoodie you’ve had since university. Consider the pared-down glamour spotted on the runways at Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo as the custom solution for the modern woman who’s grown adjusted to 24-hour comfort. Go the whole nine yards on the bottom half, but keep all else conspicuously cosy.

7. The trend: new New York minimalism (single-breasted tailoring)

Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

The Row, Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, A.W.A.K.E mode

What you need to know:

Aside from AW20’s obsession with craft-led clothing (see the above fringing trend), a collective hunger for a fresh start has also dominated tailoring. Consider the trend for single-breasted suiting kickstarted at The Row and Marc Jacobs (where the look was seen through a 1960s lens) during NYFW, which read as a homecoming for the 24/7 appeal of clean, hard-working style that was so much a part of the 1990s New York aesthetic. What to look out for? A marked return to trim silhouettes (as spotted in Paris at Balenciaga during Paris Fashion Week).

8. The trend: peekaboo cut-outs

A.W.A.K.E, Khaite and Off-White AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Khaite, Off-White, Dion Lee, Proenza Schouler, A.W.A.K.E mode

What you need to know:

While technically not a new trend, the cutaway has benefitted from a polished makeover for AW20, courtesy of Khaite, Proenza Schouler and Dion Lee. Our advice? Seek peekaboo cut-outs, which add interest to an otherwise modest look (note the newly demure hem and necklines).

9. The trend: shirt and tie phenomenon

Chanel, Christian Dior and Toga AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Prada, Dior, Chanel, Toga, Dolce & Gabbana

What you need to know:

Paris Fashion Week capped off a month-long runway obsession with recasting the business-like shirt and tie in an entirely fresh, genderless light. While Prada made the case for the tie as a 24/7 match for neat skirt suiting or off-duty knits, at Dior, showgoers who looked past the house’s neon signage were greeted with the most literal rendition of the look (as sported by gamine-cropped British model Ruth Bell). Time will tell if millennials are ready to dip a toe in the trend as part of a more upscale (if tongue-in-cheek) WFH repertoire this autumn.

10. The trend: skirt suiting

Michael Kors Collection, Miu Miu and Prada AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Miu Miu, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Alyx, Balenciaga, Margaret Howell, Gabriela Hearst, Carolina Herrera

What you need to know:

Rewind to February 2020 and ultra-feminine silhouettes were yielding new power in the hands of fashion’s most-cerebral provocateurs. While London stayed faithful to corsetry for AW20, Milan was all about the cinching, belted jacket. If you’re craving the polish of full-look tailoring, now is the time to reangle your approach. Autumn’s biggest wardrobe switch-up was all about the straight-cut pencil skirt. Look out for early IG adopters eager to part ways with all things sports-inspired.

11. The trend: cape dressing

Givenchy, Valentino and Loewe AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Givenchy, Valentino, Chalayan, Loewe

What you need to know:

Two of AW20’s favourite eveningwear trends: the scarlet column dress and the return of cape dressing collided at Givenchy, where the latter was given a sculptural refit. Look to Loewe and Valentino for a similarly fresh take on the high-drama silhouette, where supersized collars and domed shoulders are autumn’s upscale departure from sporty silhouettes.

12. The trend: full-look leather

Mugler, Hermès, and Petar Petrov AW/20

© Photography Gorunway

Where we’ve seen it:

Mugler, Hermès, Balenciaga, Erdem, Petar Petrov

What you need to know:

If you’ve invested in a supersized leather jacket any time during the last, well, forever, AW20’s fashion lineup confirmed once again that the hardest-working piece in any wardrobe still reigns supreme. Maximise the user-friendly power of any leather pieces you already own by styling them all together, as seen at the standout LFW show by Vienna-based, Ukraine-born designer Petar Petrov.

Also read:

How to wear a summer corset like Hailey Bieber and Dua Lipa

Low-rise trousers are in the midst of a 2020 reboot