The clothes we wear are a telling insight not just into the people we want to be, but of the lives we want to live – clothes are a barometer of the current mood. This summer’s collections are awash with undone, apparently handcrafted clothes, which suggest a slower, more mindful approach to getting dressed. These clothes offer serene sanctuary from a world that’s aggressively switched on the whole time. This is digital detox dressing.
So, what does it look like? Hems are raw and frayed, knits are crocheted, shell jewellery is no longer the preserve of the gap-year traveller, and the basket is the bag du jour. Linen – a fabric that doesn’t traditionally perform well at retail – is everywhere. The organic approach was all over the catwalk, too – from Pringle’s open-weave knits to JW Anderson’s tea-towel cottons – proof that despite its hemp-smock demeanour, the trend can still be unapologetically luxe. These are clothes to be worn by the woman who lets her hair air-dry, brews her own kombucha and prioritises meditation over mind-numbing smartphone scrolling (or at least looks like she does).
I think there is something very refreshing, comforting and sensual in wearing airy, undone silhouettes in timeless, natural fibres,” says Isa Arfen’s Serafina Sama, of detox dressing’s appeal. “I wanted the clothes to have the sense of spontaneity and freedom of movement,” she adds. Her own SS18 collection featured linen canvas and ramie muslin, which gives ruffled dresses and shirting a weightless, air-whipped feel. Sama was inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi (the beauty of irregularity), which epitomises the trend’s refreshing rejection of manicured, filtered perfection.
The opposite of tight, trussed-up fashion, the new mood is all about ease and barefoot elegance. Digital detox dressing is rooted in the real world. Take Rejina Pyo: her collection was designed when she was pregnant, and modelled on real women. “I was drawn to shapes that were loose and free. I really wanted to create silhouettes that all women could wear easily and feel great in,” she explains. Her sculptural jackets and generously proportioned dresses certainly deliver on that front.
There’s also a bigger message underpinning all this. “I think in the same way that we are becoming more conscious of what we eat and more sceptical of processed foods, we are also becoming more attracted to the idea of wearing natural fibres rather than man-made ones,” says Sama. “They have a timeless appeal, feel airy and fresh when worn, and are more easily recyclable, which is an important factor to take into account, given the huge impact the clothing industry is having on our planet.” Clothes with a conscience, in other words. And if you did want to Instagram them, who could blame you?