The Balenciaga effect proves its staying power for yet another season.
Puffer coats were abundant during UBM Fashion’s MAGIC and PROJECT trade shows for fall. Ath-leisure inspirations leaned into the coat category resulting in skiwear influences and slope-friendly pieces. Sportswear and generally casual looks dominated the tone of exhibitors’ collections despite their brand identity — outerwear was no exception.
The best versions boasted updates to late-Eighties and early-Nineties styles that featured bold colors and shorter lengths that emphasized the puff factor. Especially of note was Biannual’s neon pink number that channeled the 1991 flick “Ski School.” Also of note was Zadig & Voltaire’s army green coat that channeled Nineties hip-hop staples, refreshed by medallion-shaped quilting details that elevated the overall appearance.
Puffers have dominated the runways in recent seasons. Perhaps most distinctly at Demna Gvasalia’s fall 2016 Balenciaga collection — his first as artistic director for the French fashion house. Of course, puffers were also present in the fall and spring 2017 collections for Vetements, the line for which he serves as head designer. Gvasalia’s collections weren’t the only ones that introduced puffers for fall 2016 — Stella McCartney, MSGM, DKNY and Acne Studios all included versions.
The prevalence of puffer coats marks a new phase for outerwear in which utilitarian components and functionality reign as top priority over less performance-friendly counterparts. An undertone of survivalism is invading shoppers’ mind frames, urging the necessity to be prepared for any climate — weather or otherwise.
This sentiment also dovetails with the rise of fitness and wellness as key areas of individuals’ investments. Compared to impulse buys on an accessory or two in the past, consumers are now splurging on juice cleanses and spin classes. Designers have wisely aligned themselves with the shifting paradigm of shopper priorities to align with newfound activities and values.