Gap Inc.

July 6, 2020

Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort is never wrong. A visionary and a futurist, considered one of the world’s most respected cultural forecasters, Li shapes color, design and trends for upcoming seasons, influencing the curated design that shapes Gap Inc’s. portfolio of brands season by season.

Last week, our designers and merchants from across the globe were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear Li’s perspective on the next wave of design. Our CEO Sonia Syngal enthusiastically kicked off the event, stressing the importance of designing with boldness and audacity during this rapidly changing time and tipping her hat to the genius that is Li Edelkoort.

“It was important for me to create a space for you all – our design and merchant teams – to hear from Li and think about the context of our brands in this new world,”shared Sonia. “The past three-plus months have been a period like none we have ever lived through. We along with our customers and communities are forever changed, and we have this opportunity to hit reset and think forward – redefining our product creative process. This all starts with brand clarity.” 

After an inspirational introduction by Sarah Holme, who oversees product design and development for Old Navy, Li launched into her projections for Spring and Summer 2021, and the power behind green thinking; Winter 2021 and 2022, and how post-coronavirus clothing will become appeasing and essential; and finally, for the first time ever, her vision for Spring and Summer 2022, inspiring our designers to start a new chapter for humanity, eliminating excess and bringing peace and mind. 

“I created the Green Book for Spring and Summer 2021 after receiving so many questions from young people concerned about the planet,” shared Li, “saying they don’t want to pollute, and asking what they can do, how they can behave, and how they can dress. So, I sought out to make a ‘how to dress’ book.”

Here are some of the top trends Li encouraged our designers to keep an eye on for the upcoming seasons.


Drawing inspiration from the younger generation who show their behavior, mentality and the way they dress through various shades of green, like acidic green and camouflage, Li taps into what she believes is a season devoted to political and environmental change. 


On top of that, Li is also paying attention to the use of new fibers. Cotton is drinking enormous amounts of water, so Li encourages us to pivot to fibers that are easier to harvest and don’t consume as much water, like hemp and nettle. Denim, in particular, can be created using nettle, and Li stresses we must “manifest as a company our willingness to ‘go there’ and address the fiber question. Real cotton is not enough.”


“All my students hardly touch synthetic dyes. It’s either the natural color of the fiber, or gentle half-tones using avocado or onion,” describes Li. “They deliver a new tonality which we haven’t worked with in fashion before. You know when these kids are in the industry, their vision will change the way we look at color.”

Looking at looking at new patterns and dyes using natural processes and ingredients, Li opened our eyes to tie dye and other innovations in pattern and design.


“Denim will become more like a sect. Maybe there are dresses, tunics, or farmer jackets.  It’s interesting to use different fabrics in the blue sector, like chambrays.  Mix denim with cute, simple color wovens.  And, find manufacturers that will take care of the planet.  If it becomes normal procedure, it will become less expensive.” 


“There is an enormous amount of white linen in the world; found in hotels, hospitals and institutions.  White linen is perfect for now, it’s peaceful, active, very attractive, clean, and makes everyday a Sunday. It’s beautiful for romantic dresses, which we’re seeing more of.  It’s an underlying trend that’s not discovered yet.”


“Plants have become our focus, as we see young people making these urban jungles.  It’s an absolute energy of nature which we can do in overdyeing and color-weaving.  We’ve seen this impressive arrival of vegan and vegetarian foods, and its our responsibility to take care of the planet by eating less plant and fish.”


“People are buying real workwear, but they can’t find it in fashion.  Create a whole workwear section; for men, boys, and kids.  It’s the perfect way to wear a suit without being in a suit.”


By incorporating a small about of lace, tulle, pale colors and even flowers, you’re able to bring fantasy and romanticism to your designs.


“There’s the promise of biotech, and while it’s not more than a promise of that, many textile students are working with this. Because we are waiting desperately for these materials, we try to get our existing fabrics to look like mushroom and seaweed. This is just to say this is coming and while we are waiting, we should do research into these new fields of biotech.”

“There’s an importance of embroidery and crochet; patterns, self-making, your community; like grandma knitting sweaters,  The incorporation of nice sweet colors, beautiful abstract and florals, beautiful stitching that’s naïve, sweet and endearing.  You don’t need to do a whole collection, just a few pieces here and there, it gives character to clothes.”


Paper designs, spanning from the ‘noble and resistant’ brown paper bag, to tissue paper, to papier-mache, should be incorporated into your design. It’s about your fabric never having a dull moment, says Li, and it’s beautiful to see how all the textures work together.

Li’s ask of our merchants and designers was simple:  design with purpose and integrity, keeping the earth in mind and spending time on creating less, more meaningful collections, versus more.

“The designers are leading the way to a new calendar, with less merchandise, where you’ll make more money with less,” says Li.  “We will reset the clock to make merchandise so beautiful it speaks for itself.”

Learn more about Li and her company Trend Union here.


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