Gap Inc.

June 15, 2021

World-renowned design forecaster Li Edelkoort once again shared her forecasts for future design concepts with Gap Inc.’s cross-brand design and product teams on June 4, this time joined by Philip Fimmano. Li and Philip represent Trend Union, a forecasting company that identifies and analyzes future consumer attitudes, lifestyles, and economy trends. Together, they have been valued creative partners to the teams across Gap Inc. for more than a year.  

Hosted by Nicole Wiesmann, Banana Republic’s Head of Men’s Design, this session was part of the overarching Create With Audacity program in partnership with design leadership across Gap Inc. Li shared her forecast for upcoming seasons with a focus on the resurgence of workwear, and Philip shared some of the not-so-traditional tools and mediums being used by young artists that he is currently inspired by. Together, they presented a design concept largely impacted by a cultural landscape in which values have shifted. They call it "A Labour of Love." 

“It has become obvious to humans in recent years that the privilege to work is amazing," said Li Edelkoort. "They’re happy to be productive and participating in what’s happening in the world. Work is and will be dear to us moving forward. Before, people would say, ‘It’s hard labor,’ and now they say, ‘It’s a labor of love.’ So, workwear is becoming a category. There’s this strong hold on survival garments that are with us day and night, which wash and wear, which are crisp and fresh, which are fantastic friends.” 

“We looked at the way that technology and handmade are coming together for young designers, especially how they’re recreating a new way of living," said Philip Fimmano. "They have a conscious, they’re interested in being sustainable. Being successful is not getting too big but giving work to those in their studio. It’s nice to think about how we can be proud of our work…about how it’s a token for life.” 

 The Monastic Core 

“I wanted to look at the clothes of the monastery to study a much more simple, serene, minimalistic and spiritual type of dress," said Edelkoort. "These are bigger clothes that you fasten with belts. It’s beautiful headdresses using coordinated fabrics. It’s the grace of the hood. It can be more stylish or design driven with a lot of elegance. And of course, the fabrics are a bit more upend, luxury and neat.” 

The Maid’s Uniform 

“We need this form of charm—the idea of beautiful, fragile, batiste fabrics. Looks that are fresh and laundered with cut and placed embroidery," said Edelkoort. "We can take our energy and ideas from the table linen, and there’s a big trend toward headscarves and handkerchiefs, even valences. Collars, cuffs, scarves—all these items are going to lighten darker clothes. There’s something so early American about this domain, and it’s needed to balance the masculinity of traditional workwear.” 

 The Household Ingredients 

“Here, we draw inspiration from the kitchen cook cabinet—plastic colors and sponge materials," said Edelkoort. "The ugliness of these colors and the sharpness of the contrast is on the edge of bad taste, which is important for fashion. We need to show that it’s not all serious, but that there’s another spirit a little bit on the edge. It’s an easy, literal message.” 

 The Clinical Trials 

“During a hospital visit, I was captivated by the colors—the strange green, the strange blue, a little pink, dirty white," said Edelkoort. "Fashion is toying with this idea, the clinical aspect of colors and finishes. I think there is a lot to learn from hospital protective gear, detailing we can lend with a lot of awe; purposefully strange colors and purposefully strange styling. We are in awe of their gift, which made the way that they dress popular.” 

The Textile Designer 

“The craft of the textile designer is more creative, fantastic and embellished," said Edelkoort. "Where the weaving becomes a creative outlet. Where the overall becomes a canvas. Where colors are deeper and vivid. Where we weave objects and new materials. It can be quite crazy, excessive and expressive. And of course, there’s embellishment with beading, buttoning, fringing, lacing, layering. Here, we are breaking all the rules—making it free and exciting.” 

A Labor of Love, an Act of Faith, a Proof of Will, a Token of Life 

In part two of the presentation, Philip Fimmano shared the work of young artists across the globe that he is currently inspired by. He discussed how their creation process, the tools they use and how they define success have been shaped by a changing culture—one in which doing the right thing matters. Among other trends, he discussed: 

  • Creating Community: Represented by artists like Bas Timmer, who created Sheltersuits for homeless individuals using recycled material and whose work gives employment to those from war-torn countries; as well as Social label in Holland or Roland Pieter Smit, both creating systems that enable individuals of all abilities to be part of the process, giving work and purpose to people who may otherwise have difficulty finding a full-time job. 
  • Weaving Wonder: Represented by artists like Daniel Harris, who opened the first mill in London in over 100 years and uses old machinery to make highly contemporary textiles. 
  • Accumulating Remnants: Bringing forward the importance of recycling and represented by artists like Peter Salera, who uses e-waste; Max Lamb, known for working with nature’s elements like forested trees or overage from the mining industry (stone) to create beautiful furniture; and Zoe Jo Rae who recycles packaging and plastics to create garments and assorted tools, even a canoe made from recycled materials!  
  • Growing Design: Highlighting the developing—and perhaps most exciting—trend of growing the materials you’re designing with and represented by artists and businesses like Diana Scherer, who collaborates with nature to grow and weave lace; and UK-based Full Grown, which uses biology, farming and design to grow trees into the shape of furniture. 


Related Articles