NEW YORK — Attention sportswear makers: Peasant tops, sheer blouses and ruffly skirts might be all the rage now, but come 2004 these relaxed hippie looks will have split the scene.
A more tailored and minimalist way of dressing will set in. Technology will also play a bigger role influencing apparel. Structured clothing will prevail, while in some cases, looser and simpler styles will be apparent.
The question will be tech-wear or eco-wear?
These predictions, albeit differing, come from two Manhattan-based fashion forecasters, Haysun Hahn and David Wolfe, who are featured in the newly released book “Stylemakers: Inside Fashion,” (The Monacelli Press, $50) by Marcia Sherrill and Carey Adina Karmel, where they are referred to as “futurists” and “prophets.”
They forecast that beginning with spring 2004, the biggest transformation in mainstream sportswear will occur.
Hahn, director of Bureau de Style, said a more tailored way of dressing will translate into ensemble outfits and “power clothing.”
“We’re not going back to `Dynasty,’ but we’re going back to power dressing,” said Hahn, whose clients range from L’Oreal to Adidas. “We’ll see the resurgence of traditional fabrics. Checks and plaids will look more formal and harken back to what we used to think was career clothing.”
Instead of prairie shirts, Hahn said structured shirts will come back and technical fabrics that don’t require ironing will be important.
“It’s more of a proper wardrobe mentality,” Hahn said. “Whenever you have Seventies’ fashion like now, it’s about escapism. So that means we’re coming out of a fashion [cycle] and into a new one.”
Hahn said 2004 is when the first decade of the new millennium really begins to influence mainstream sportswear, because it takes a while for things to catch up. So, people might be sporting bare-midriff tops and see-through blouses now, but they will be covering up soon, she promised.
“We have too much turmoil in the world at the moment, so things will become more discreet,” she said. “It’s about not showing as much body. We’re also in a new age of aggression and clothing will be much more disposable. We’re going to throw out furniture and cars if we can.”
Taking a slightly different outlook, Wolfe, creative director for the buying office and consulting firm The Doneger Group, said people will be showing off even more body down the road.
“It will be about nature and the naturalists,” Wolfe said, whose clients range from Wal-Mart to Saks Inc. “We’re going to be more accepting of more body types, so there won’t be the same kind of urge to hide your body.”
As for peasant tops and ethnic looks, Wolfe said these hippie looks signal the beginning of a trend toward country dressing that’s really “grassroots American.”
“Technology is going so fast that we’re going to see an emotional backlash against it,” Wolfe predicted. “People will want to pretend in their dressing as if they’re leading very simple lives in the country.”
Because of the heightened threat to personal security, Wolfe said people are not trusting modern times, so they will search for simplicity in things like simple smock dresses in natural fibers and gingham checks. House dresses will come back in fashion, like ones from the Thirties and Forties.
“When shapes are big and comfortable, they suit a lot of different body types and ages,” Wolfe said. “There’s also a great untapped market in the older consumer.”
Wolfe agreed with Hahn, saying the apparel industry is still trying to shake off the 20th century.
“If fashion is a feast, we’re in between courses,” he said. “The action is at the low end [of sportswear] and at the high end and we’re waiting for the middle market to speed up and have some change. But by 2004, there will be a big shakeout — fewer players, and the ones that are left overwill have to reinvent themselves.”