A look back at the trends that defined the 2010’s
The Arab Spring. Rana Plaza. Dhaka Attack. Trump. #Metoo. Brexit. The climate crisis. The 2010’s have certainly kept us on our toes. This was the decade when the Millennials came into their own and tried to leave their stamp on history, and for better or for worse, we certainly shook things up – in current affairs, in tech, in popular culture, and of course, in fashion. As we tippy toe into the 2020’s, let’s take a look at fashion’s biggest highlights at home and abroad, over the last ten years.
Tech on me
The 2010’s were defined foremost by the tech/startup revolution, and even as it changed the very fabric of our lifestyles, it caused a huge paradigm shift in workplace cultures. For the first time, it was 20-somethings calling the shots, dreaming up the next best thing, and wearing the boss pants. Seeing as how the bulk of the business was conducted online and involved more number-crunching and brainstorming at home (while tackling problems like rent payments and student loans) the boss pants were quite often sweatpants. When the code monkeys began to rake in that sweet tech money, however, nerd glasses, turtlenecks, sweatpants and ugly sneakers suddenly went from unacceptable to desirable.
The playful Millennial work ethic, which blurred the line between work and play, also meant that fitness and social interaction was a bigger part of the work life, and thus athleisure was born. With the arrival of joggers, varsity jackets and luxe yoga pants, you could seamlessly transition from the gym to the boardroom to the after party without even needing the presto change-o. How’s that for multi-tasking?
Time after time
When we’re talking about Millennials, a generation born during the 80’s, and coming of age in the 90’s, we’re talking about a demographic that’s watching the approach of middle age with growing dread. Given the state of the world we found ourselves in, during the last ten years, it was only natural to wax nostalgic over the halcyon days of our childhood. Cue in The Weeknd and Tame Impala, get excited over the retro vibes of Stranger Things, and bring back the mom jeans, the crop tops and the chokers. The very same trends we turned up our noses at during the optimistic years of the Aughts or Noughties, or whatever you call the early 2000’s, we rebranded and repurposed to make our own in the 2010's.
Fashion nostalgia also had other manifestations in our neck of the woods. Against the backdrop of growing concerns about the climate crisis, the Rana Plaza tragedy brought home with full force the undeniable truth of the industry’s impact on the environment and human lives. While the apparel industry embarked on its journey towards reform and redemption, the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh (FDCB) stepped up with a timely reminder about our centuries-old textile heritage that has always been in harmony with nature and culture.
The happy coincidence of the Khadi Festival, with events like the Dhaka Lit Fest and the Folk Fest created avenues for us to rekindle our love for handloom fabrics, and also created opportunities for experimentation with rustic accessories in a way that made sense with contemporary sensibilities. Brands like 6 Yards Story were only too happy to lead the way.
It’s raining menswear
If you wound back the clock to the start of the decade past, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at Bangladeshi men that we already had a decades-old legacy of bespoke tailoring and a sizeable menswear industry. In late 2014, all of that changed with the arrival of a fashion house called Zurhem. Combining Mehruz Munir’s artistry with Saadat Chowdhury’s business acumen, the brand shot to superstardom almost overnight, and Dhaka was never the same again.
Forwarding not only a classy aesthetic of sharp suits and bold styles, Zurhem espoused an entire lifestyle centering around sprezzatura, and as deshi men finally fell in love with fashion, other young brands followed suit and diversified the market.
The rise of modest fashion
The influx of oil money through Saudi investments, the pushback against ascending global Islamophobia, the popularity of Turkish soaps and shows like Sultan Suleiman, or the increased concerns about the security of women – there are many roads both rocky and smooth, that ultimately led to the realization that fashion and faith need not be mutually exclusive, that one’s clothing could be an expression of one’s spirituality and individuality.
With that epiphany, brands like Sciccosso and Tahoor took the lead to turn modest clothing into a revolution, giving us options for women whether or not they practiced the hijab, including capes, palazzo trousers and gowns galore.
A little over halfway into the 2010’s, the Millennials were joined by Gen Z – a generation born during China’s economic boom and the ascension of the ASEAN Tiger. Raised on Kpop and anime, this new generation made their presence felt with the bright colours, logomania and genderless styles inspired by the Comme des Garçons aesthetics and a love for all things kawaii (think everything Miniso). It might well be that the Mecca of fashion relocates to the Far East in the near future.
As curtains drop on the 2010’s and a sparkly new decade lies ahead of us, as Guy Fawkes gives way to Salvador Dali and the Millennials pass the baton of revolution to Gen Z to take their place as the New Establishment, we can’t wait to see what the 2020’s will bring.