Fashion rocks in rocky times: Pandemic, concerns about sustainability shape style trends

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Momentous events are often a force in shaping fashion trends and industry standards.

Locally, Denver metro area fashion gurus say they are seeing new trends amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and as environmental sustainability is increasingly grabbing consumers’ attention.

A resurgence of ‘90s style, and retro vibes. Sparkles and sequins. Bold colors, and patterns galore. Also, an emphasis on individual style rather than fitting in a box, body positivity and sustainable fashion.

Genesis Gomez, a Westminster-based model, like many accrued a collection of loungewear when the pandemic first struck.

“I had my daytime pajamas, and my nighttime pajamas,” she said. “I have a whole slipper collection now.”

More recently, she switches it up. Some days she’s back to wearing professional clothing — a blazer and nice shirt — but not every day. With a longtime penchant for ‘70s style, Gomez is also embracing that trend lately, throwing on oversized sunglasses and bellbottom jeans, styled with a sleek middle part and natural makeup.

“Embracing the oranges, greens, blues, tie-dye,” she said. “I’m big on the ‘70s look these days.”

Interviewed as the model prepared to walk shows in New York Fashion Week, Sept. 8-12, she said she was most heartened to see people focusing on being themselves,.

“I think that that is truly beautiful, how we are kind of coming into a world where people are just really embracing what fits them best,” she said.

Amanda Crazybear is another model who works throughout the Denver metro area. She’s studied fashion history and worked in the industry for 10 years.

“I feel like everybody has had just a rough time and kind of got lost,” Crazybear said of the pandemic. “Now everybody is kind of emerging.”

She’s watching her two teenage daughters join the revival of ‘90s trends, picking up styles she once wore herself, she said, and mixing in goth and urban streetwear inspiration too.

“I think the ‘90s were just a fun, funky time of freedom of expression for people,” she said.

Like her daughters, Crazybear said she’s observing people mesh multiple styles, not just settling for one. Dressing up also helps a person feel good, she said, complimenting Colorado designers for creating designs that empower people of diverse backgrounds and needs.

Darlene C. Ritz is the Denver-based fashion designer behind DCR Studios. She has a doctorate in education and a passion for designing for every body type.

For several years there has been a shift away from homogenous trends throughout society toward more individual expression, she said, and the pandemic’s onset expedited that. People were home more, browsing the internet, on their phones and online shopping.

For many, shopping became a pastime. Anything they wanted was available with the click of a button, and so too was fashion information, she said.

That’s helped lead to consumers becoming more educated, and as a result making a return to slow fashion and sustainable fashion, she said. They’re deciding to waste less, as are designers. They are purchasing higher-quality items in order to keep them longer, instead of throwing items away after little use.

Ritz took her collection to New York Fashion Week, where she also focused on less waste and including all body types and genders. She gathered inspiration on a trip to Mexico, taking in the many colors, and on a trip to Las Vegas, where she saw an exhibit that featured a phoenix.

Rising from the ashes plays a theme in here collection, she said, as are a flourish of prints.

“Fashion is a celebration, and we are seeing that people are coming out of this wanting to celebrate,” Ritz said.

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