Something is happening in the fashion world that any time-poor consumer will be pleased about. Catwalk shows in Paris over the past week have shown evidence of an unlikely trend: creases and wrinkles are in fashion.
The Row – the immaculate label designed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen – had creased-cotton pieces that look like bed sheets, while Burberry’s show on Monday featured crinkled slip dresses. Bottega Veneta – the show that has been the hit among the front row this season, partly thanks to a rare catwalk appearance from Kate Moss – included trousers, made from gossamer-light leather, with noticeable creases. It was Prada – a brand that always sets the trends – that really ensured that this is a shift to take notice of. Throughout the collection there were creases and wrinkles in clothes from short shift dresses and midi skirts to grey all-in-ones.
After the show, Prada co-designer Raf Simons told the Observer that the creases were “gestures of error” designed to replicate “pieces that have had a life”. This is aligned with a wider shift in fashion for a post-pandemic world away from a glossy perfection and towards something that embraces a – within reason – warts-and-all reality.
Gary Armstrong, stylist and fashion director of sports and fashion magazine Circle Zero Eight, doesn’t own an iron and calls ironing “a waste of time”. He sees this look as part of a “understated elegant look” and points to the Row as the prime example. “This dishevelled but very expensive look is how someone shows that they’re rich,” he says, adding that this is central to the way the Olsens – valued at around $500m (£451m) combined – dress themselves. “Designers like Tom Ford, where everything is super perfect, it feels very outdated.”
Armstrong says the change is partly because of the pandemic: “People are used to being more comfortable in their clothes. They don’t want to feel like they’re really starched.”
The anti-iron trend can be seen beyond the catwalk. Purposefully creased clothes are on the high street at stores like Zara and Weekday, and Julia Fox – something of a poster girl for this more haphazard glamour – attended the New York City Ballet gala this week wearing a Zac Posen crumpled silver gown reminiscent of a post-marathon blanket.
Of course not everyone wants to embrace fashionable creases. The iron’s irrelevance is also growing thanks to the popularity of non-iron shirts for men at brands including Lululemon, Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo, TM Lewin and Charles Tyrwhitt. Joe Irons, chief marketing officer at Charles Tyrwhitt, says that men “want an easy life” and that the non-iron range is “now bigger than ever, and 93% of all our smart shirts are now non-iron”. The technique is also extending to other items sold: “We’ve also seen an explosion in non-iron chino sales, with 80% of chino sales now non iron.”
Marks & Spencer was early to market with the non-iron innovation – with its first non-iron shirts introduced in 1996. Alex Dimitriu, head of menswear buying at the brand, says it is now the bestselling formal shirts range. “Post pandemic we reassessed how customers were living and working. These easy-to-iron and non-iron innovations complement ever-busy lifestyles.”
Whether it’s about joining a fashion trend or reclaiming time on a workday morning, expect your iron to gather dust this autumn.