Leather has been growing as a trend for the past several years, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere (sorry Vegan’s!). This Fall we saw black leather used in various stylings of skirts, shorts, dresses and trousers. This trend is continuing through Spring 2011; however, the dynamics of the textile have changed quite a bit.
For Spring, LIGHTWEIGHT LEATHERS were seen from a myriad of designers with tough punk looks from Balmain to ladylike suiting at Christopher Kane. Leather goes beyond its tough image this Spring and instead brings a light and airy feeling to the fabrication through a new stylistic direction.
Leathers were presented in three distinct classifications: Buttery slick leather, perforated/textured leather and lightweight suedes.
Typical slick leathers were lightened up and softened to accompany Spring’s silhouettes. A delicate approach presented leather in a modern aesthetic using the fabrication in shift dresses, A- line silhouettes and new directions in bottoms. This type of leather is soft and fluid and works well when creating languid shapes and asymmetry. Some leathers have a glazed finish while others resemble baseball or glove leather.
Special techniques were seen with leather creating transparency, cut-outs, perforations, and altered textures. Christopher Kane altered leather to resemble lace while McQueen pieced together leather butterflies to create various deigns. The biggest trend within this category is perforation which is the process of die cutting small holes to form a pattern within the leather. This type of technique was shown in dresses, skirts, and shorts all with a delicate ladylike feel to them. Styles seen in this type of classification are mixed with variations from modern designs to softer feminine versions.
The last classification seen in lightweight leather was in the form of suede. This type of leather allows for fluidity in design and translates beautifully in jackets, dresses and tops. Ralph Lauren used a great deal of suede in his American Cowgirl collection showing fringed suede jackets and dresses cinched with large belt buckles. Hermes’ Equestrian heritage was beautifully shown in suede jackets and suiting. The best thing about suede and why it was so versatile on the runways is its ability to saturate color. Beautiful colors were seen in suede keeping with Spring’s bright and colorful approach. Fall’s Camel trend has transitioned into Spring’s cognac and tan suedes as seen in the image above.
Of all three classifications, we feel that suede will be the most influential at retail. Suede is a bit cheaper than leather which will allow Junior retailers and fast-fashion chains to produce styles at a cost that fits within their customer’s budget. Suede also has a softer hand allowing it to be worn in a more casual way which will give diversity to the design process. Suede feels the freshest as we haven’t seen this material for awhile, and in Spring’s new color palette, the choices will be plenty.