• Lyndal Wallis

The trends that shaped 2020.

While the world experienced something of a global enforced hibernation, one industry that didn’t stop innovating was the fashion industry. Now, as we all get ready to emerge into 2021 here are some of the strongest trends we saw over the last 12 months, and how they might evolve.


As the global health crisis drove us further and further inside, the opportunity to get into nature was put on pause and we started looking for ways to bring the wilderness into our homes. Enter Cottagecore. A trend played out IRL across social media by celebrities and the elite as they escaped lockdowns by taking off to their country piles/spa-like estates. Yes, we’re talking about you David Beckham.

Image: Instagram

The Urban Dictionary describes Cottagecore as: ‘a niche aesthetic based around the visual culture of an idealised life on a Western farm.’ How that translates sartorially is lace collars over the top of jumpers, lace cuffs and embroidery on shirts, prairie-style dresses, woollen Aran jumpers (preferably hand-knitted) socks with Birkenstocks and gumboots under, well, anything. This is a trend that’s all about feeling ‘cosy’ but looking ‘country. So, dressing like you’ve spent the day milking cows and harvesting the land, when really you’ve been sitting on your couch watching Netflix (but nobody needs to know that)!

Crafting and DIY

Image: JW Anderson

Learning new skills and reacquainting ourselves with old passions were two things that united the world during 2020. Online craft store Stitch & Story saw a surge in sales at the start of the pandemic, sharing with the BBC they saw an increase of 800% in March compared to the previous year.

The fashion world was quick to tap into the trend. Crafting, patchwork and DIY garments were seen on the Spring/Summer 2020 catwalks of Jil Sander and Stella McCartney who showed head-to-toe crocheted long dresses as the evening wear of choice for the summer. Perhaps even complemented by a version of JW Anderson crocheted handbag. Termed craftcore by some pundits, patchwork pieces were shown by designers such as Marni, Kenzo and Alexander McQueen with F/W2020 catwalk shows displaying the best ways to mix both patterns and fabrics.

Harry Styles caused a TikTok sensation wearing a JW Anderson knitted cardigan, the pattern of which was later shared on the brands website encouraging knitting enthusiasts to knit their own version.

Pivoting to presale strategy

The global health crisis has further highlighted the need for high street retailers to address the issue of overproduction. Overproduction, and its subsequent waste, has been an industry-wide issue for decades and as many retailers were left unable to trade, some brands explored presale as an alternative business model. It makes a lot of sense, running with a demand-driven manufacturing process means you end up with less excess stock. Plus, there’s less risk when you’re not reliant on changes in consumer demand. A company that’s experienced the success of implementing a presale model is Canadian denim maker, Duer. In May 2020, it lost 75% of its revenue in less than a week and so launched the ‘quick response’ presale method. It worked by introducing a presale prototype where if, over a three-week period, a minimum threshold of orders is met then the product is made and delivered to the customer within four to eight weeks. Paynter is another brand following in Duer’s sustainable presale footprints and it’s only a matter of both common sense and time before more and more brands follow suit.

Casualisation in menswear

Image: Isabel Marant

2020 saw the traditional shirt, suit and tie combo be temporarily retired and replaced by polo shirts, t-shirts and loungewear. And as remote working continues well into 2021, this relaxed approach to men’s workwear isn’t going anywhere. Think sweatshirts, hoodies and sweatpants combos in warm neutrals, and lighter fabrics such as linen separates replacing heavy jersey as the weather warms. Drawstring trousers are also set to make their return demonstrating how, in 2021, comfort remains an ever-present focus for all brands.

The home office

Image: Alexandra Kidd Design

The one universal trend to take the world by storm in 2020 was the home office. We may not have asked for it (and we certainly weren’t expecting it) but 2020 was the year to blur the lines between home and work. Did we work at home or live at work? We’ll never really know.

Either way, our homes have never worked harder at being both our sanctuary and our work space. Finding a comfortable work chair, the most flattering light, the right sized desk and perhaps even giving the place a fresh coat of paint were all scenarios being played out all over the world. And the lifestyle and DIY retail industry was all the better for it. In Australia, Bunnings saw its earnings climb 13.9% for the 2019-20 financial year to $1.8 billion, while similar growth at Officeworks saw it deliver $190 million in earnings and several US retailers saw a similar uplift.

In a recent interview with Homeworld Business, Jonathan Johnson, CEO of US-based Overstock said that in March alone sales grew in key categories as consumers started focusing on making their homes more functional. “We saw over 100% growth in office furniture, outdoor play equipment like swing sets and exercise equipment,” he said. “That growth accelerated as the stay at home mandate reached the entire country by April 1st. Since then we’ve seen accelerated growth in home furnishing as people have shifted their shopping behaviour from brick and mortar to online in response to the current restrictions. As a result, year-over-year sales in April are up over 120%.”

With working from home here to stay, you can expect to see a lot more home gyms, multifunctional spaces, nature-inspired palettes and elaborate outdoor entertainment setups.

And finally...the Nap Dress

Image: HillHouseHome

We couldn’t let a story on pandemic trends go by without mentioning the ‘nap dress,’ the new and improved take on that suburban favourite - the house dress. The nap dress is a hybrid of cottagecore mixed with that ongoing desire for comfort and a sprinkling of day-to-night versatility. So, comfortable enough to lounge around/work from home in and pretty enough for a picnic in the park once you’ve logged off for the day. Roomy, relaxed and easy to move in the nap dress comes in two ‘it’ shapes – midi and maxi. Worn with either a high neckline or elasticated shoulders for versatility this is a core trend that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Expect updates in thicker fabrics like jacquard, velvet and satin as the weather cools but otherwise the cotton nap dress is set to be a summer staple. Catch it on your favourite social feed as this feminine and relaxed garment isn't going anywhere anytime soon.