Folkloric looks are expected to become more popular with designers.

Bring on the dirndls.

Fashion’s dire need for real design, as in anything folkloric (that not by chance could never be worn to a gym) was the takeaway at Li Edelkoort’s “Folklore: A Way to New Form in Fashion” talk Thursday. The folkloric undercurrent that is forecast for upcoming seasons can be traced back to a need for actual design, not the redundant foolproof styles that currently dominate retail, she said. Inherently, folklore keeps reinventing itself as society moves from one period to the next and each generation culls multiple identities in the process, the trend forecast said.

Outlining the “serious reasons” for this shift during Thursday’s Trend Union forecast, Edelkoort stressed the need to find new shapes. “Now we are designing T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, windbreakers. T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies…It’s crazy. Companies have no time anymore to do a consultation about all of the trends together. So people just run to their computers to make more of all these things.”

Embellished and more unique materials are in order, as opposed to “the first thing that comes to mind,” she said, adding that in vastly different regions of the world, people share very similar ideas about how to dye fabric, weave colors, embroider flowers and other elements of adornment. To that end, Edelkoort mentioned how the decor of Rosita Missoni’s “whole house is Missoni, but it’s not Missoni. She’s assembling baskets from Africa, bowls from Guatemala, anything from Asia so everything looks like her patterns, but they are found. That is exactly what this [trend] book wants to express.”

Citing the rising threat of fascism, increased suicide rates, more racial discourse and the risks of cultural appropriation, Edelkoort indicated that the folkloric undercurrent relays more than a sense of history and belonging, but it can also be a unifier and emblematic of hope. “It is very beautiful because it shows that we are much more similar than we think,” she said.

Cautioning against cultural appropriation, Edelkoort said folklore must be studied and understood, before making adaptations and variations. “We cannot just copy anymore. We also cannot copy the clothes of our competitors, which is what we do today. Wherever I go in whatever design studio, there are clothes from everybody else — as you know. That is what has now become the norm. It’s dangerous as well.”

Regarding specific trends, Edelkoort is banking on the Universal Tunic adaptable in various weights of fabric, the Farmer’s Blouse first seen on the silver screen by Elizabeth Taylor and later modernized by Yves Saint Laurent’s interpretation of Matisse’s 1940 painting “Romanian Blouse,” mourning dresses especially those in dark colors with delicate laces and stiff voiles and regional ribbons particularly layered for border adornments and DIY belts. From her viewpoint, the Swirling Skirt, which is “always a bestseller” and hasn’t been offered for a while, will be important. “The most important fashion hero” Frida Kahlo continually adapted the style during her lifetime and the traveling exhibition of the artist’s work and clothes, which arrives at the Brooklyn Museum in February “will inspire many, many designers.” Valentino got a jump on the trend in recent seasons.

Additional Aprons are found not only in Munich and Tyrol, Austria, but “is happening all over the world, which is a world echo of labor clothes,” she said. Other trends include Folk Flowers, the Square Shape (especially ponchos), the Embellished Mode, the Traditional Kimono (as seen as streetwear on men in Japan), Legends of Labor (as in workwear, especially in blue), the Covering Cloth, Wrap Styles, Protective Grasses, Animistic Adornments, Wonder of Weaving, Intricate Embroideries and the Folklore of Waste.”

Fielding questions, Edelkoort mentioned how bark, hemp, nettle and other plant-based fibers are gaining ground in fashion, but the textile industry needs nanofibers that can be printed. Noting how she lost two clients in Japan because the companies fired their designers and now design collections with algorithms, Edelkoort said, “There is not only the danger of the planet, but also the danger of artificial intelligence. This means by and large 10 years from now we will all need new jobs, if we don’t speak out…The only way to survive is by using our hands. It doesn’t always seem very productive. But using intuition and craft will develop cottage industries and small companies. Otherwise, millions of people will be out of work, which is super dangerous.”

Afterwards, Edelkoort added via e-mail, “The onslaught of data and AI is already turning designers into robots!”

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