With COVID-19 forcing some of music’s biggest festivals to postpone until the fall—Coachella, which was to take place April 10-12 and April 17-19, is rescheduling for Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18—and others to cancel completely, including what would have been the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury in the U.K. in June, fashion experts are confident the virus currently sweeping the world will influence festival fashion when the time comes.
The industry is already seeing apocalyptic influences on the Fall/Winter 20-21 runway, with gothic glamor and grunge serving as the main storylines for the season. In line with that, designers like Tala Alamuddin, founder Tala by Tala Alamuddin, recently launched a line of protective masks and hand sanitizer pouches in fashion prints and fabrics. Meanwhile, influencers have taken to social media to tout their elevated protective gear, including masks by Nike and Louis Vuitton—and they won’t be the last.
Chelsea Davignon, youth and accessories editor at Fashion Snoops, said these types of functional, utilitarian items are bound to make their way into the festival fashion scene.
“In light of the health hysteria leading to the rescheduling of Coachella, an emphasis on protection may very well be seen throughout this year’s festival season,” she told Rivet. “If concerns about the virus loom, these often-bare skin-centric events may now see a bit more coverage, and dust-shielding bandanas may be swapped out for more functional breathing masks.”
She predicts other apocalyptic-inspired fashion trends like extreme distressing, “brash” slogans and roughly handcrafted garments will take center stage at festivals.
“There will be direct—if not tongue-in-cheek—reactions to the unusual circumstance,” she said.
Fall denim trends
The later dates mean good news for denim lovers, as the cooler weather will likely make attendees reach for heavier pieces like embellished jackets and full-length, slouchy jeans.
“Over the years, festival fashion has evolved from fun, glitter-filled ensembles to stylish, Fashion Week-worthy outfits, but one constant has remained: denim,” said Morgane Le Caer, fashion insights reporter at Lyst. “From jeans to shorts and dresses, demand for denim continues to be on the rise.”
Experts anticipate a shift in attire, with lower waists and looser fits becoming more popular again. The classic high-waisted cut-off denim shorts that often served as a festival staple will likely be less prevalent this year. Fitted Bermuda shorts, A-line micro-shorts and boyfriend shorts are DL1961’s anticipated bestsellers for this festival season.
Extreme finishing like acid wash and colorful tie-dyes are also likely to flood the crowds, as secondhand or handcrafted items grow in popularity.
“In terms of festival dressing, denim now stands as a staple for customization,” Davignon said. “Seen almost as a blank canvas, denim is often updated with DIY dye effects that nod to the ’70s, and reworked silhouettes that create new era-less pieces.”
While ’90s fashion will continue to be a favorite among young festival attendees, experts are betting on earlier decades to make a comeback. And, just as seen on the runway, ’70s fashion is the decade to watch.
“Though many of the same festival themes from last year will carry into 2020, we’re really seeing a shift away from bolder shades and neon looks into softer hues like tonal pastels and neutrals,” said Edited’s retail analyst Krista Corrigan. “Expect last year’s dominant ’90s aesthetic to rewind a little further into ’60s and ’70s influences.”
Not so coincidentally, Stevie Nicks was slated to headline the now-canceled Governor’s Ball on New York City’s Randall’s Island in June. The lead singer of British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, Nicks is a’‘70s icon of female empowerment—and fashion. Her statement fringe and flared denim is still likely to be seen throughout this year’s festivals.
According to data from Lyst, searches for flare, boot-cut and wide leg jeans have increased by 30 percent in the past three months—and designers are responding to the demand with statement denim pieces. Los Angeles-based denim brand Etica lists soft, breathable washes with true vintage aesthetics as some of its best-selling garments. Namely, its Mojave River wide-leg crop and Fleetwood flare, another nod to the ’70s rock band, are most popular.
Festival goers are also likely to make more sustainable choices this season. With major music festivals often the subject of criticism in regards to issues like littering and over-consumption, some are taking steps to reduce their footprint. Coachella’s website lists a number of initiatives such as minimizing single-use plastics, using low-carbon technologies and encouraging attendees to properly dispose of their waste. It also plans to launch features within its mobile app that will let users earn rewards for completing eco-challenges.
Similarly, Wide Awake, a festival set to take place in June in London, will feature a Climate Cafe, where attendees can take advantage of “grassroots activism speed dating” and a plastic-free party hosted by a local nightclub.
Along with these initiatives, sustainable fashion is expected to be popular, as the younger generations known for their advocacy work and environmental priorities make up the majority of attendees. Secondhand items and new pieces from sustainable brands are likely to dominate the scene.
“Throughout history, young people have seen festivals as safe spaces for expression, rooted in both creativity and advocacy,” Davignon said. “Many people may utilize this festival season as a platform to make important statements. As a generation that has grown to be highly vocal about hard-hitting topics like climate change and inclusivity, the 2020 festival-goers may utilize these gatherings to take a stand on challenging issues.”