The Blandification of Fashion Has Arrived—Are You Ready?

a person wearing a jacket
Fashion's in Its Bland Era, and That's OkGetty Images

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If the surrealist themes and exaggerated silhouettes of the past few seasons were getting too bold for you, I have news. Fashion's getting blander. Nope, you're not dreaming. Things are getting a bit less dramatic and easier to pull off on a random Tuesday—and in my opinion, this is definitely not a bad thing.

For those of you who are wondering what I mean by "bland," rest assured, I don’t mean boring. "Relatable" is more like it. Designers are showcasing staples we're used to seeing in our everyday lives (jeans, t-shirts, button-downs, trousers, cardigans, sneakers, and flip-flops), rather than the extravagant clothing and styling choices that normally come to mind when you think "runway" (bold colors, novelty items like banana bags and balloon-shoes, etc.). By the time spring/summer 2024 rolls around, fashion trends won't be pushing any of us out of our comfort zones; rather, they'll be more throw-on-able than ever before.

Take Loewe, for example. The luxury house is known for its iconic and unusual pieces. Recent collections included those aforementioned balloon shoes, the famous anthurium flower dress from spring/summer 2023, or the goose feather shirt and shorts from fall/winter 2023.

But while the brand's latest collection still incorporates a few of the unconventional elements they're known for, it also shined a spotlight on t-shirts, v-neck sweaters, cardigans, and trousers. For the record, Loewe could never actually be bland (please see the chic sleeveless cardigans and 3D floral pieces that walked the same show) but as a known entity of whimsy, they're a great example of the recent surge in subtlety: Everything's a little more approachable than before.

To be clear, this goes beyond Loewe. We saw blandification across all the major designers, including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Acne Studios, Saint Laurent, and Proenza Schouler, to name just a few.

Stella McCartney

Photo credit: Victor Virgile
Photo credit: Victor Virgile

Acne Studios

Photo credit: Thierry Chesnot
Photo credit: Thierry Chesnot

Proenza Schouler

Photo credit: Courtesy of Proenza Schouler
Photo credit: Courtesy of Proenza Schouler


Photo credit: Estrop
Photo credit: Estrop


Photo credit: Pascal Le Segretain
Photo credit: Pascal Le Segretain

Saint Laurent

Photo credit: WWD
Photo credit: WWD

What's behind this shift? Honestly, it might be the economy. Runway shows are expensive. And a lot of what we see come down the catwalk doesn't even end up getting produced (that depends on what retail buyers decide to stock). Making something that won't sell is just bad business. It's infinitely easier for the masses to wrap their heads around a subtle new take on a classic sweater they know they can get a lot of wear out of than it is for them to imagine dropping a couple thousand dollars on a super statement piece they'll only slip into a couple times. (Once again, yes, I'm talking about balloon shoes.) This upcoming season, designers have gotten that memo. Hence...more classic sweaters.

It might also be habit-driven. Similar to Tommy Hilfiger's popularity in the '90s, some of today's hottest trends are starting with consumers and trickling *up* to the runway as opposed to the old way—where designers controlled what was in style and it trickled down. The 2023 (and beyond) version of that is influencers, celebrities, and content creators who are changing the way people shop. Even brands' artistic decisions are being swayed by consumer traffic on Instagram and TikTok these days. From aesthetics-driven trends like cottagecore to quiet luxury, an easy-to-understand (and easy-to-put-together) look will explode on For You Pages across the globe and then labels will scramble to create pieces that fit within those ultra-desired buckets.

These Bland Times might have something to do with the environment and climate change, too—an issue that young people care deeply about. More and more, Gen Z and millennial young women are turning to second-hand and vintage shopping, and thinking about how to make their consumption habits more sustainable. For many consumers today, less is more.

No matter which reason is really at the root of it all, there's no doubt that fashion has entered its blandification era. And you know what? I’ll take it! Staples are in and investing in your closet is cool. With major designers incorporating more wearable pieces, it's so much easier for everyone to participate in trend culture, which is when fashion is the most fun anyway.

This ol' sweater? It's giving bland, baby. And yes, I mean that as a compliment.

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