Yarn Trends for Spring Summer 2020

Yarn Trends for Spring Summer 2020

The summer of 2020 is all about sports, the Far East and subcultures.

The Summer Olympic games that will be held in Japan are the inspiration for the whole season and will offer a strong impetus to visual culture in general. A parade of colors and of athletes whose roots are deeply embedded in the history of their home countries’ customs and who will be testing themselves in the most popular sports. Some “new” sports, favorites with young people, will be on the list of official Olympic disciplines for the first time — surfing and skateboarding are included with the specific goal of embracing youth cultures. The street is the inclusive platform par excellence and will give style a new push, confirming the extent to which fashion promotes subcultures and new languages, elevating them to establishment status. Japan with its ancient culture, balanced between tradition and innovation, is the backdrop as it offers new cultural cross-pollination of over overlapping styles. The focus is on inclusion and on young people who inspire new development and economic models, as well as new ways of dressing that match just as many ways of living. Certainties and new models. Idols are changing too, just like the concept of beauty associated with the feeling of strength a body conveys as it performs. Sports take on a human face with little idealization as they radically change their aesthetic codes. The new athletes are human; they train on the streets and are no longer gods. Notwithstanding these unusual concepts, the next Olympic Games will be a very important and stimulating cultural, economic and tourism event. A huge happening that can move the masses and ignite passion in a spirit of emulation throughout the planet, and it will give rise to new overlaps of the mainstream and subcultures. Fashion will experiment with it all, tearing down all cultural, geographic or class-distinction barriers generating new hybrid styles.

The research themes are strongly oriented towards technical and performance development in sportswear and they move in different directions: from casual to elegant, confirming cross-pollinations between ambient and image, opting for cleaner and less over-the-top lines than in seasons past. The material becomes the key, while shape losing value becoming commonplace. The outfits are less striking, more essential and necessary. Increased focus on the choice of materials reflects the final consumers’ greater awareness.

Natural fibers will be chosen on the basis of provenance and yarns will exploit the fibers’ intrinsic properties such as elasticity, strength, washing ease and the ability to regulate body moisture. Synthetic fibers will be used to make yarns for body-modeling knits, or soft and slippery knits or rigid and full, fluffy knits.

Subcultures, in the broad sense of the term, will continue their massive influence on the official visual culture and will develop an image of luxury that is much more appealing and closer to a new generation of consumers. A particularly fascinating point is the constant growth of interest in the field of processing raw materials — through treatments and washes — and the effects on surfaces and finished garments. Materials are no longer invented, but processed and transformed. Customization takes the place of design. This attitude, which springs from the world of denim, is moving into all the merchandise sectors.

This research will be applied to yarns in a quest for distressed looks, faded looks and unique nuances through double-dyeing, decolorizing baths, or variegated prints. Materials that create oily, rubbery finishes and sanded, waxed, suede or laminated effects will be applied to these new yarns.

Nearly forty years after its official debut on the international fashion scene, a renewed Japanese sense of the avant-garde cites the beginnings of the research and aesthetics that definitively changed fashion, the way of using materials and research itself. It’s a shot of rigor and subverting the rules that pushes research to keep moving forward, combining the traditional and the contemporary. Even when it is not stated outright, this important duo — traditional versus contemporary — stands out in the graphics and in micro- and macro patterns.

The sophisticated experimentation that characterizes Japanese fashion products is present in the very fine gauge and lightweight high-quality yarns made with natural fibers such as silk or synthetics like crisp and thin nylons. Combining these two types of fibers into one yarn will lead to new surfaces and hands. Traditional dyeing processes will be heightened by contemporary methods.


Ball games are interpreted in a completely new way — through handball. All you need is a wall and some space. The theme is very minimalistic and raises technical sports clothing to a new formal street format. From the street to a new market — different from soccer and basketball, yet complementary and sometimes similar. The soft or stiff shapes are oversized and sculptural; outfits are created by layering big knits and bermudas with very fitted items like leggings and t-shirts. It’s a post-Japanese style that revives and reinvigorates the unmistakable look of the “masters of the 1980s”. Avant-garde, wearability, and knowledge of the materials and how they perform are the keys. It’s a look for a new generation of young professionals who are allergic to the desk, and who develop new models of business attire by playing with an extemporaneous garment. It’s a theme that will redefine elegance — even for shorts and tank tops. The lines are clean and precise, without any “mistakes” whatsoever, looking industrial even when they are handmade. Fiber-reinforced concrete that characterizes cities and suburban areas mark off new spaces for meetings and exchange, inspiring warm or cold colors depending on the shadows that change during the day to become blue or aqua. A strong, flat, and reflective warning-paint yellow lights up the color chart. Surfaces, too, get their inspiration from these places and blend together with the surfaces of department store sports clothes, made of polyamide or polyester microfibers and reinterpreted in an elegant, high-style key. Consistencies can be soft, stiff, or a hybrid mix of performing tech stretch with the more architectural aspects of raw and untreated denim pants that street kids Wear. The look is mainly synthetic, even when the fibers are natural. Stitches offer an albeit slightly recognizable reproduction of the lines on playing fields. Big, uneven geometries imitate the shadows walls cast on clothes and become almost impalpable nuances that come across in patterns, stitches, or treatments. Patterns placed like tattoos combine Western and Eastern concepts of sports, generating visions of cosmopolitan, ball-playing Samurai.


Skateboarding is the subculture symbol par excellence, and it will be on the podium at the next Olympic Games. Just like the new generation of non-designer-designers who are redefining luxury through a vision that is raising the street to the highest level of fashion’s Olympus. Once again, the street is the hybrid and inclusive backdrop for fashions that are as free and rebellious as the skaters. An updated image of the 1960s, seen through the sun stripped coast-to-coast photos of America, that also calls up the old informal hippy atmosphere. It’s a theme that celebrates the aesthetics of boredom mixed with excitement: an emotional state that is hard to describe, but one that characterizes the journey through adolescence. The colors are warm, overexposed and faded; a blurred snapshot characterized by fleeting, dynamic brightness that is difficult to capture. Colors held together by a dulled colonial blue and a faded jungle green. Volumes are either too little or too big: clothes loaned by friends or “borrowed” from family closets always generate an out-of-place effect. They are emphasized by finishes and wash treatments borrowed from the world of denim and capable of transforming the noblest yarn into something very distressed and the banalest material into something unique and sophisticated. Customization is the creative, artistic and personal key that identifies everything from the board to clothing. Knits look natural, imitating the most ordinary jersey — less pretentious, strong and sturdy — in both sweaters and tank tops. “Tuttifrutti” linen denim is the inspiration for strong knits that looked used, faded, and made shapeless by too many washings; hems and edges are raw and threads are pulled. Colored geometric inserts mix it up with flower power patterns in an almost childish and naïf surrealism. Collaborations between street artists and designers will lead to a new concept in creativity without strict rules. A sense of grunge and borderline characterizes bold combinations of vintage checks and flowers, stripes and rave psychedelic patterns, makeshift outfits put together with something swiped from granny’s clothes and from a supermarket aisle. These are the features of an unruly style without any apparent logic, a look that disturbs the eye and provokes the intellect, creating graphic disturbance and patterns sporting Beat Generation slogans. Well-placed patterns combine tribal symbols with soft drink or rock band logos. Linen and hemp are the most interesting textures for conveying the essence of the theme.

City Surfer

It’s an unusual view of surfing that inspires this theme: surfing in the city. If water is too far away, the city inspires fun alternatives to the sea or ocean. Munich offers the most interesting example. The Eisbach river attracts surfers from all over the world and in all seasons — especially summer. The colors of its waters and the surrounding buildings are the inspiration for a strong and unusual theme where the streets, buildings, and the urban context, in general, are the unusual background for surfers who test themselves against the current’s waves, Bridges and quays replace dunes and promontories as the sites for watching one of the season’s most surreal spectacles. City surfers wear urban camo that translates colors into almost military hues, along with hints of wetsuits, bathing suits, and the urban scenario. Olive green and blue take the lead with two bright notes from an almost fluorescent yellow and optical white. The increasingly hybrid and ecological car is the technological counterpoint to the surfboard for getting around on the ground when looking for another surfing spot. A certain “automobile look” will blend with surfing elements, overlapping the aerodynamic design of car interiors with lines of the surfboards, rugs and truck pads. Together they generate wavy and curving lines that enhance the body. Knits are close fitting and sculpting. They develop the concept of the most technical bathing and surfing suits. The softer volumes are held together by suspenders and elastics as if the suits were worn over t-shirts. Surfaces are compact and recreate neoprene through thicknesses, treatments, and layering. Edges are turned in with contrasting stitching. The wet suit’s tech zippers become decorative, opening and closing shoulders and backs moving the knits and uncovering skin. Palm trees and exotic motifs are reinterpreted with urban touches like lampposts. The city skyline becomes a stylized motif with geometric waves. Pedestrian zebra crossing and shark-warning prints mix with stylized exotic flowers. Updated Japanese waves and river carp are the inspiration for prints and patterns.

Full Contact

The street has always been the most democratic place for testing you and your opponents’ strength. Physical contact sports born on the street — from boxing to wrestling — inspire a theme that feeds on suggestions from an underprivileged milieu and then offers rich and interesting results in terms of materials. Freestyle wrestling is a traditional sport practiced in many countries: from Turkey to Mongolia and Iran, from Senegal to Japan, from Thailand to Ghana. It is the inspiration for a theme with a very masculine image evoked by a color chart dusted with sand, soil, or chalk. It is a lively color chart that is also soft: in addition to strength, it represents the wrestlers’ nobility of spirit. Surfaces are hybrid, a mix of materials drawn from images of wrestlers and the setting where they fight. Materials cut into strips to wrap fists and cover sides, are then transformed into threads for mélange and bouclé summer knits. The sources of the fabrics for protecting the body are very heterogeneous: salvaged leather, towels, blankets. A mix of materials that make for textured surfaces and new concepts in draping or patterning. Geometric inserts that imitate the way the materials are twisted on hands and bodies. Stitches and parts of the knits are padded, imitating homemade gloves and protective headgear. Shoulders and elbow guards increase the sense of power conveyed by the knits. Local references, such as patterns, embroideries, prints and even the origins of the materials identify items with sporty, simple lines transforming even the commonplace suit into a very sophisticated item. The metallic touches, such as gold threads and plating represent a desire for luxury and higher financial and spiritual status: they emerge from the backgrounds of the poorest and rawest knit. Raised stitches are coated to obtain an oily hand imitating Turkish wrestlers’ pants. Oversize Sumo knits will be decorated with long, stiffened or twisted fringes. Ribbon appliques inspired by Mongolian collars will be reserved for the one who proved his value in combat.


This is the theme of raising and elevating the self beyond one’s own limits — a new street discipline that uplifts body and spirit. The Olympic street disciplines are Calisthenics, CrossFit, and the Paleo Workout. New routines that inspire the atmosphere and image of these groups. The face of sport has never been so human and ordinary — no designer gym, no fancy logo. Good weather demands that we be outdoors: in the park, in the woods, in the city square, or at the beach. Public places become open-air gyms equipped by city governments or private initiative. They are places to meet, train, and try new exercises together with your tribe. Fascinating places — with equipment made from scrap metal, like the Kachalka open-air gym — as well as many similar gyms that have cropped up everywhere, from Brazil to Thailand. This spirit of nature represented by the outdoors and the spirit of salvaging suggest recycled yarns with zero environmental impact to translate into raw and rustic looking knits that have nothing in common with tech, glamour, or design of what we now call gym wear. They look worn and dirtied with mud, soil, grass, rust, or grease. The colors on the chart are illuminated by paint green that serves as the tech counterpoint to a group of natural tones for a new concept of the gym. Wild. Volumes range from second skin to oversized sculptural sweatshirts, as well as items inspired by casual wear readapted for fitness training with deep necklines and cuts. Overlapping knitted bands design hybrid anatomies of crisscrossed muscles. “Mad Max” rings and chains suggest open yarns which after stitching become dry terries to use inside out. Canvas and denim are translated into knits for sports. The stringy looks of trees and trunks give knits a dry, clean hand, and green-painted bugle beads create a tech ribbon effect on the surfaces. Madras and giant checks inspired by amazing Indian gyms imbue the new athleisure with a more ethnic, albeit strict and geometric feeling — like the Scottish plaids that bring up memories of the early Highlanders. Everything is strong and toned. Knits are primitive clothes for cave-dwelling athletes. Yarns that look recycled are mixed with elasticized yarns in new spontaneous tech looks — as if they were old, very Spartan rustic fabrics like tech jute sacks adapted to sports.

Tacky Gym

Of all the Olympic disciplines, there is one in particular that captures our eye and attention for its technical virtuosity. Artistic Rhythmic Gymnastics are the inspiration for a theme of elegance and exaggerated showiness, that is almost fake and borderline kitsch. From the savage and almost superhuman physical strength of the preceding theme, this one translates the effort that goes into making a more constructed and definitively unnatural image into knits. Supple, androgynous bodies as elastic as chewing gum perform unnatural and syncopated exercises solo, in pairs or in teams. They construct complicated, unachievable, fleeting poses. A competition for showing off perfection that is also manifested in richly decorated, iridescent, printed, or complexly graphic Olympic costumes. More than knits, they are true chimeras, exotic animals and stage costumes that strut about seeking the highest scores and the most special attention. It is a ritual that finds its subculture match in gay and alternative clubs where people do Voguing, a dance inspired by the highly artificial poses of models on fashion magazine covers. Voguing was born in New York in the 1970s, and from a gay niche phenomenon, it was transformed into a global subculture that is now separate from sexual orientation. From its origins in New York prisons to the rest of the world, Voguing has acquired an almost political value. Like rhythmic gymnastics, it has strict rules and exercises. Each performance tells a story through movement and dance. Stories stolen from the world of nature fantasies, from space, from history itself, and then told with the style personality of who wears them. Knits are almost body makeup, sparkling second skins that confuse and destroy gender distinctions. An androgynous and glamorous look that confirms a trend that is becoming more and more accentuated in culture, clothing, and music. The bases are shiny, metallic, lacquered with looks ranging from satin to chenille to moiré. A complex grouping of geometric inserts or organic lines that are interpreted in mesh panels, fringes, and floral appliqués. The colors are bold and flashy, inspired by competition leotards: orange, fuchsia, blue and electric blue. Knits with a strong identity that translate the techniques and ideals of high fashion. Knits that will light up the summer in the hottest clubs of the 2020 season.

©PITTI FILATI January 2019 

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