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Fast fashion gives way to longer lasting quality during pandemic

Black is back while designers put emphasis on longevity heading into winter season

One of the positive outcomes of the global pandemic is that the brakes have been put on impulsive, fast fashion. Manufacturers have finally taken their foot off the accelerator to reveal timeless quality pieces in their autumn/winter season collections. The mindless materialism of the past few decades that led to disposable clothing dumps, near slave labour and thoughtless pollution has hit the pause button. Designers want to create more lasting, quality clothing that fits into a more responsible retailing concept with a conscience.

Fashion reflects the spirit of society from the flash hedonism of the “roaring ’20s”; the disco funk of the 70s; the punk rebels of the 80s and the sustainable style of the 2020s.

With parties trimmed, social lives limited, travel curtailed – there is a shift to a less is more mantra – buying less but buying better pieces with longevity.

In fact, the word “trend” like “fad” has become synonymous with irresponsibility. With longevity and investment pieces in mind, AW 2020 unveils a restrained, elegant and subtle collection from the top labels that will hopefully sink into the mainstream.


For women and men black is back – it always is a seasonal favourite but this time it dominates the collections. Valentino, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Victoria Beckham and Dolce & Gabbana prowled the catwalks in striking black vinyl jeans, Matrix-inspired leather coats and ruffled silk blouses.

Closer to home, the N&C Kilkenny label has a fantastic range this season that lifts the mood of a downbeat market. Sister act – Caroline and Nicola Kilkenny have lined up silk blouses and elegant skirts designed with elegance and a long lens vision. The range is available in Arnotts of Dublin, McElhinneys of Ballbofey plus boutiques around the country with wardrobe staples that will work at home or at the office. The collection features strong signature looks for midweek fare including flexible jackets, wraparound dresses and ruffled blouses that will tide you over the autumn season right through to spring 2021.

Karen Millen, also has a very smart and defined collection that caters well for the season ahead. She emphasises the longline dress, along with silk blouses and check blazers for a smart workwear and evening wear wardrobe.

Checks and tartans also abound with the designer rooms in Brown Thomas as long-lasting cashmere blazers, trouser suits and scarves borrow themes from the classic patterns of heritage and tradition. Helmut Lang and Theory have spun reds and burgundies into their luxury wool wardrobes. Bottega opts for red lace while refined ruffles were on the catwalk at Ferretti and Christopher Kane. These highlights are picked up by affordable online brands such as iclothing.com for those on a budget.

The Irish have always had a crush on velvet especially for winter-wear. Chanel and Haider Ackermann emphasise long maxi velvet dresses and velvet jackets while Balenciaga's models hit the haute note in opulent opera coats. Add a mask and you can double up as the phantom on the stage.

Flashes of passion are picked up with statement sleeves from Fendi’s puffball blouses, to elongated shirt cuffs or Beckham’s balloon sized shoulders.

Cream and grey shades feature in the menswear collections along with checks, tartans, houndstooth and caramel Burberry scarves. Swinging cape coats by JW Anderson and Lanvin should warm up the winter even if you end up looking like Sherlock Holmes – don’t forget the Healy-Rae flat cap.

Multi-pocketed windcheaters from Giorgio Armani provide handy storage for masks, sanitisers, wallets and tissues – and the brandy flask in the absence of a wet pub on the way home.