"Saudi women form a matriarchal society that are interested in fashion" – Net-a-Porter’s Sarah Rutson
The finite art of forecasting
" We're going to start on an optimistic note," says Sarah Rutson, Vice President of Global Buying at Net-a-Porter, as she addressed Dubai's self-confessed style tribe educators this week.
The London-based fashion forecaster is in the city to present a "zeitgeist" of ten trends set to trump the e-commerce cloud this SS17. Musing on her memories from New York, London, Milan and Paris — in that order and without missing a satined stiletto step, because that's the shoe of the season — Rutson effortlessly rounded her notes into neat categories, which in effect form the pinnacle of what are essentially the ingredients of a billion dollar business.
"We're very cognoscente. We're constantly looking at how to move a women into a new mood," and says Rutson, that is dependent not only on fashion but making Net-a-Porter's technologies more "interactive". "Everything is about online now. Everything is about immediacy. I see it now, I want it now. The shop is always open, on your time." So what will the shop be stocked with? "There are a lot of stories. We saw an abundance of strong colour. There's been the Gucci effect of maximalism. Then at Balenciaga they were mixing unexpected colours together."
There's almost a maximalism evolution going on.
"I also love the abundance of cotton too. Last season I called it out, when we saw the shirting and re-worked shirting. This season designer's have used it to great effect. It's the ultimate summer fabric."
Third on the trend list was a nod to the now. Here's looking at street style. "Never underestimate the Vetements effect — the oversized sweatshirts and sportswear-influence. We also now have genuine fake Dolce t-shirts. It's about logo mania. The logo is cult."
Rounding out the top five trends were the 'relaxed bohemia' look and the aptly titled 'up your sleeve' trend. Then taking a step back, while looking forward in the retail race, was the achingly edgy eighties glamour-esque collection, think shine and pink, complete with costume jewellery. "We sell a lot of turbans and headbands across the globe," which are a micro trend of the look. But when asked if it makes a difference as to where the designer's DNA was developed, Rutson says: "It's not about where designers come from. It's about their offering. We'll venture up attic staircases and down alleyways to see great collections."
And if there's women who know where to seek out style, they're in Saudi Arabia according to Rutson. "Saudi women form a Matriarchal society that are interested in fashion. They buy several sizes and you can see it's so they can have parties at home. They dress for each other."
Dressing this season is also going to see waves of 'good girl gone bad', 'summer tailoring', 'utility' and 'summer loving' looks. Then when it comes to shoes: "Everyone was wearing sneakers and now the height is increasing to a kitten heel. And while Autumn/Winter was about velvet, spring summer is about satin."
Net-a-Porter's SS17 offering will be online from February 2017.