It’s been a dismal winter so far, particularly for fashion retailers. However, spring 2012 promises to be brighter and bolder. Hilarie Stelfox takes a look ahead at the New Year trends
THE UNSEASONABLY warm winter and wet Christmas were something of a disaster for fashion retailers – and many pin their hopes at that time of year on sales of warm coats.
And there’s little doubt that the recession has affected demand for evening wear.
Huddersfield may also have lost out because the fact that the area’s roads weren’t covered in snow – as they were last winter – meant shoppers ventured further afield.
“The atrocious weather last winter kept people from going out of town,” says Sally Jones, senior sales manager for the House of Fraser store in Huddersfield’s Kingsgate.
“Smaller towns like ours benefited from the bad weather.”
Staff in the department store also noted that this Christmas shoppers were more reluctant to splash out on special occasion outfits.
“People were overheard saying that they would make last year’s party dress do, or wait for the sales,” added Sally.
However, in the world of fashion each new season offers a fresh opportunity and local retailers are now looking forward to better prospects with the spring collections.
Many of them focus on cheerful, bright colours and bold patterns.
Sally added: “Traditionally, spring is about more subdued colours but this year, for whatever reason, a lot of the collections are featuring bright prints and colours. There’s a lot of orange about.”
The floral patterns that proved so popular last spring and summer are also back in mainstream collections, as are vintage-inspired tea dresses.
“We found that our customers really liked the florals,” said Sally.
“I think that when you have a nice, bright top or dress on with a cheerful floral design it really lifts your mood and makes you feel happy.”
Stripes are another major trend for 2012 – many in bold colour combinations.
Selina Bashir, owner of Pixie Pop & Posh – one of Huddersfield’s small independent boutiques – said: “There’s a move away from the traditional nautical blue and white stripes. You’re more likely to see red and white or orange and white stripes.”
Stocking youthful brands such as Maison Scotch, Selina feels that the ‘preppy look’ is another trend to watch for the New Year.
“It’s all about wearing bright coloured cords and jeans with blazers,” she explained.
“There are a lot of very bright, neon colours around. Some people are a bit afraid of wearing too much colour so the preppy look gives them a way of toning it down.”
The colour blocking – wearing bold, contrasting colours – effect that was fashion news last year is really coming into its own for 2012.
Selina says watch out for brilliant combinations such as electric blue and yellow and bright red.
Accessories too have gone big and bright.
Sally added: “In the run-up to Christmas we did very well with bold coloured bags in the big brand names.
“I think people see them as an investment buy and it’s a way to liven up an outfit.”
Early spring is also the time when cosmetic companies launch new season colour collections. For example, designer brand leader Dior’s limited edition eye shadows – not yet on counter – promise a dazzling range of soft colours.
“There are lots of shades of green and purple,” says Huddersfield Dior consultant Ellen Scott, “They’re really pretty and will suit everyone. It’s a very colourful spring.”
So, there you have it, a colourful fresh season to look forward to.
And, hopefully, some fine spring weather to go with the new fashions.
COLOUR: Be bold, brash and bright. Team brilliantly-coloured jeans with contrasting or even clashing tops. For the less daring, accessorise a neutral outfit with colourful shoes and bag.
PATTERNS: Look out for bold patterns. Those who prefer more traditional florals will be able to find tea dresses in both bright and more subdued shades. If wearing stripes, look out for unusual colour combinations.
STYLES: American classic – simple shapes and bold colours. Figure-hugging – soft jersey dresses and body-con shaping. Oriental draping – neutral colours, lots of fabric and layers. Vintage – Forties and Fifties inspired dresses.