As far as we can see it now, it looks like the “more is more” philosophy has returned – at least for fashion
And if you have no idea where this is coming from, I have a key word for you: streetstyle. One of the biggest trend setters to ever exist – specially when it happens during the New York Fashion Week – is obssessed with goig all the way up and embracing maximalism to its whole. I’m talking big, fluffy jackets and long dresses, both in different materials, textures and colors.Yes, that’s where we are now. So let’s talk a little more about this aesthetic!
The maximalist aesthetic is all about making an spectacle out of any apparel and expressesing beauty and identity through the most audacious, unique and abundant styles – always also relaying in intricate details. It is something that comes and goes every once in a while – like almost everything else in fashion – but it’s safe to say that everytime it reemerges is as a response to a long reign of minimalism, the good old ‘less is more’ philosophy that values functionality, simplicity, and restraint – does it ring a bell? Maybe a distant sound coming all the way from 2020?
In all arts, being then plastic arts, visual arts and, of course, fashion, maximalism is always a direct reaction to the minimalism counter-movement, so they have to be completely different from each other – naturally – and that’s why maximalism has previously been described as the ‘aesthetic of excess’. After a couple years of choosing what’s comfortable and what’s practical over actual stylish and extravagant outfits, the tables started to turn late in 2021 and it seems like they are completely turned now. Runways shows and most of the major brands new collections started to come in more chic, shiny and colorful forms, and it didn’t take long ‘till the new and eccentric designs started to be spotted in social media and the streets, becoming very darling to mass consumer markets – it was not really a surprise as big audiences are usually driven towards joyful, playful and uplifting prints.
Throughout history, fashion has always been fluctuating between minimalist and maximalist trends. Four decades ago, maximalism used to be a big hit in the 80s, a decade where the styles would flaunt extravagance by always – or almost – going very bold and very bright. It was a great time to have different and weird-ish pieces of clothing as statement silhouettes and accessories dominated the mainstream, it was the time of power suits, big earrings large glasses and even leg warmers – sometimes all in one look. People would go crazy on the neon colors and animal prints with acid wash jeans, and proudly displayed the designer brand logos of whatever they were dressing.
Going forward on our fashion timeline, when we reach the 90s, however, it was time to say goodbye to a lot of the 80s styles – people could use a break, I'll say that. Thing really took a different road and now it was all about body conscious silhouettes with clean lines. This era minimalism was started by some of the top designers we had back then – and they’re still very much important to this day – like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Miuccia Prada. Also, big personalities and supermodels such as Kate Moss defined the look of the period when their go-to outfit became casual and effortless slip dresses. But it actually didn’t last long and by the mid-90s and early 2000s we could already see a return to much louder and more colorful trends like bright, blinged out tracksuits, large belts, chunky sneakers and rhinestones - lots of rhinestones.
However, at the end of the day, fashion is a big part of the econoy, so it didn’t escape the recession of 2008, and at that time a fashion writer at the Wall Street Journal, Christina Binkley, published in the journal saying that, “Fashion had been really loud and it was a huge party, and then that shifted literally overnight.” With so many people losing their jobs, the spending power of costumers was very damaged and it obligated retailers to turn more conservative with their inventory and then limit their stocks to having only those products that were sure to sell as they had sold well before. While the wealthiest customers didn’t feel the reccession as most people did and could still afford to buy luxury and design pieces, it was very clear that the majority of buyers were less likely to show off large logos.
During this crazy and very difficult period, minimalism cameback as way more than just a clothing aesthetic, but also a popular philosophy and lifestyle in general. This updated take on minimalism as we knew created a fall in materialistic values and greater awareness of environmentalism. Cultural influencers became a real thing and they would advise people to buy fewer, higher quality items that were more timeless than trendy and were less likely to be discarded after a short period of time. Brands that opted for being as minimal as possible became very popular for their great, useful, goes-with-anything basics, while the old trendy statement pieces that were so popular turned to be something just for special occasions.
Started in the late 2000’s and being the rule all over the 2010’s, minimalism style have dominated the art, fashion and even the home sectors still over the last decade,ver the last decade, focusin on living life with bare essentials and not giving in to the impulse of buying and have things ‘just because’. Minimalism is defined by a simple lifestyle – it is really about simplicity in general – and those who choose to adopt it seek for lined shapes, minimal colour and obtain as fewer as possible belongings, all in order to have a cleaner, more organised life.
And if we’re talking about the last decade and big global events, there’s one that we cannot leave unsaid: the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020. With all the lockdowns ans restritions, there’s no actual reason to dress up and be extravagant, so minimalism stayed – in a different waym sure, but still. However, after we got vaccinated and started living the post-pandemic era, people have turned back toward maximalism – even though this current maximalist aesthetic has some poits that are very different from the previous iterations, which is almost completely due to the internet and its various ways of creating inspiration.
For example, TikTok – the place where maximalism started to trend a while ago – has become a major communication and fashion platform where influencers can show their followers how to create outfits by mixing textures and colors.
Another great difference is that climate change and its escalating risks to the planet have made the adopters of this newest iteration really consider ways to balance the aesthetic and their own sustainability and social responsibility. Finding clothes second hand or buying unique pieces from online small, high quality businesses is a big part of this updated version of maximalism. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand that maximalism style and lifestyle messed, cluttered or stressed, but filling your wardrobe with vintage accessories and clothes in order to create something that will bring maximum happiness while showing the world a little more of who you are.