This weekend I ventured to London’s Olympia to soak up the trends for SS18 at PURE. I was educated, enriched and inspired.

Pure London is the UK’s leading trade show for fashion buyers, but even as an observer industry visitor, I learnt so much as the show boasted a global offering championing new feature areas, emerging brands, an unrivalled education programme and seminar content. It combined serious business with creative and inspirational experiential content initiatives including keynote speeches from fashion designers Dr Pam Hogg and Henry Holland as well as the trends shows and buyer briefings from WGSN - which I loved.

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WGSN isthe bible of trend forecasting and, during her Buyer’s Briefing, Sara Maggioni, (Director Retail and Buying at WGSN) stated that consumers will be buying less but buying better. Sustainability and versatility is key; with season-less and dual-function items offering value for money and the blurring of genres and categories opening up cross merchandising opportunities. Here are her key predictions for SS18. You heard it here first!  

A new category to watch out for, and an extension of the growing Athleisure trend, is Sloungewear – based on statistics stating that by 2020 45% of Americans will work from home, Sloungewear offers a merging of active, sleep and loungewear. 

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Dresses, in particular midi styles, continue to be the biggest category but there is an increasing indication that we’re seeing a return to separates, as well as multi-functional items such as the two-piece dress - an item that can be deconstructed into three items. Drawstring tops are a new take on volume and ruffle tops for SS18, and Angel sleeves offer a new alternative to the cold-shoulder styles.

Colourways see the continued influence of prints. Pink now becomes a core shade not just a fashion shade but sees a move away from dusty soft pinks to more daring Magenta and Fuchsia tones with a high octane 1980s feel, while Rose Terracotta offers soft neutral pinks with reddish hues. Pale Sage brings a new alternative to pastel mints and utility greens which are set to be key for swimwear.

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Other key colourways include Lilac, Bold Red, Summer Wine, and Solid Neons used as detail features to contemporise utility and military looks. Textures and materials for SS18 include sheer and luxe Soft Glitter, modern Contemporary Lace on boxy shapes, Feminine Sheers to give a flowing feminine feel to contemporary shapes, exaggerated Bows, Ruching and Drawstring as an update to the familiar gathering silhouette, and Lace Up details especially coming through on denim. Prints and Patterns in the form of florals, stripes and placement prints are still growing, and Tie-Dye becomes less hippy and moves into more contemporary territory on denim and wovens. Slogans continue but become more inclusive – eyecatching, Instagrammable, and featuring messages of inclusivity, non -gender and against discrimination. And the use of World Fonts indicates the move towards Globalisation over Westernisation.

To help with S/S 18 planning, WGSN’s four overarching Vision themes were mapped across six key retail drops, providing clear insight into which Vision trend will be most relevant for which parts of the season, enabling effective planning for product development across all seasonal ranges. 

The season opens with Slow Futures, focusing on practical and functional product that crosses over from winter into the Spring Transitional drop. 

Slow Futures focuses on the importance of basics, but with a more luxurious approach. As demand grows for long-lasting essentials, fabric assumes a new importance. In this trend, basic no longer means ordinary. Quite the contrary: wardrobe staples are becoming more lavish and desirable. 

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Minimalism is a key influence in the Slow Futures trend, but moves away from its purist roots to embrace strong silhouettes, clever cuts and added texture. The trend for raw edges becomes more tactile with all-over finishes, and slubbed fabrics use silks and jerseys, adding interest to simple designs with elevated details. Shapes become more structured, as sharp edges and circular silhouettes become more important in tailored and volume items.

Kinship has two drops: Spring which centres around lighter layers, and Mid-Spring & Festival, which explores new festival essentials

Kinship is a trend focused on adventure and travel, driven by cross-cultural connections in a globalised world, and the pioneering spirit of ancient Silk Road trading. This trend offers pick-and-mix influences that take us on a journey from sea voyage to souk, including swashbuckling nautical looks, Islamic geometrics and updated rodeo styles. 

Kinship offers a layered approach to dressing, both in terms of design details and cultural references, which makes it perfect for Spring and Mid-Spring & Festival retail drops. Craft is fused with clever pattern cutting in this trend, and historical and cross-cultural details are key. Romantic and bohemian styles take on a tougher look, and casual looks are elevated with a focus on refined fabrics, raw-edge layering, intricate embellishment and surface texture.

Psychotropical also has two drops: Summer which targets both casual and resort, and High-Summer, which focuses on beach looks, with an emphasis on print and pattern.

Psychotropical sees lush botanical themes take on a heightened, almost synthetic form, with motifs that have a hallucinogenic quality. Colours are deep and saturated, and the juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made creates an unusual tension that feels new for the season. 

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Swim and beachwear is a key reference this trend, which plays perfectly into the Summer and High Summer retail drops. Beautiful constructions and patterns traditionally seen on swimwear translate to apparel here, as beach-to-bar items evolve into everyday dressing, much the same way loungewear and pyjama dressing has. Silhouettes are simple and fluid, rather than restrictive, and materials offer a sense of refinement and luxury

Youth Tonic has an expressive urban attitude that works for the Summer Transitional drop, as the season moves towards autumn.

Youth Tonic embodies the exuberance of youth, but also appeals to older consumers in a market where age distinctions are more amorphous. It's a rebellious direction driven by a new wave of young designers, which defies categorisation and moves gender-fluid styling into the mainstream. 

The Youth Tonic trend takes place against a backdrop of bleak news and social upheaval, which is giving rise to a more outspoken, socially aware generation. Accepted norms are being challenged by young creatives, who are channelling their energy through fashion, clubbing, music and politics. The result is an eclectic clash of styles with a dash of neo- nostalgia, where 1990s clubwear and street style assume a new relevance.

PURE is a great show to visit for anyone in retail or fashion, whether you’re buying or not. There was a genuine buzz in the aisles and it looked like the buying experience was most definitely meeting the needs of the ever-changing customer and audience.  I was happy to see NI buyers like Aileen Wilson from Blush, Brenda Part from Diamond Dolls and Clodagh Shortt from Honey, plus the My Sister’s Closet girls who were there selling their own label to what looked like hordes of hungry buyers. We have a strong independent retail sector in NI/Ireland, and I hope for the customer and our towns’ streetscapes’ sakes, that this continues.