Autumn/Winter 2020 Trends: The New Fashion Looks You Need to Know


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The A/W 20 fashion shows in February fell just before lockdown restrictions were put in place in Europe. Since these collections were presented, not only has the fashion industry faced huge challenges, but also the way we all get dressed has changed significantly. The season was divided into two distinct camps. On one side were fantasy, couture-like creations designed for extravagant social lives, and the second was a continued shift toward wearable, classic pieces. While the Villanelle-style evening gowns are beautiful to look back at, with an uncertain six months ahead of us and parties still on hold, for this A/W 20 trend report, I’m focusing on the pieces I think people will actually buy into over the next six months.

The word trend is now a dirty word in fashion circles, as we all look to be more mindful with our consumption and buy items with longevity in mind. When compiling this trend report, I was conscious to avoid any trends that I believe will have a short shelf life and instead focused on styling tweaks that you can achieve with classic autumn pieces or updates that will last far beyond one season.


(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Jil Sander)

"We are certainly seeing designers choosing to showcase a selection of really wearable pieces, more so than other recent seasons,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-Porter. "This reflects the customer’s desire to make more considered purchases with sustainability in mind by investing now and wearing forever. Our wardrobes will be more hardworking than ever before, featuring well-loved pieces that can be styled in multiple ways and across multiple seasons. Pieces that we will always champion for fall—this season is no exception—are boots, tailoring, outerwear, sumptuous knitwear and, of course, the finishing touches like a beautiful piece of jewellery.”

Due to the current economic uncertainty, one report said 79% of consumers plan to cut their apparel budget in the next 12 months, which inevitably will manifest in people being considerate with the things they do choose to buy and leaning toward timeless items. To get a sense of what people will actually be buying over the next six months, I spoke to dozens of fashion buyers for their intel on how they have shifted their buys in light of the current circumstances, and many said that they have invested most heavily in classic outerwear and boots for the upcoming season—the bread and butter of autumn dressing, of course, but this reiterates that in times of uncertainty, many lean toward basics and seasonal staples.


(Image credit: Getty)

Pictured above: JW Anderson

As we're spending more time indoors and at home, many of us are prioritising comfort and ease when getting dressed. However, this is balanced with the increasing desire to return to our normal wardrobe routines and to get dressed properly. "Understated luxury is the keyword for many collections, and the vocabulary is high-quality knits, cashmere and neutral tones,” says Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director at MyTheresa. "Among the ways to achieve the look, the knit dress is a new wardrobe essential.” Buyers have focused on a capsule of easy-to-style but elevated separates, as Lydia King, fashion director at Harrods, says her hero pieces for at-home dressing this autumn are "relaxed silhouettes, cocooning knitwear, easy dresses, silk separates and chunky boots for stepping outside."

Comfort is key. However, instead of loose, baggy knits, loungewear is made to feel more elevated this autumn thanks to the return of fitted silhouettes. "The second most prevalent trend was the focus on the female form, which saw the return of the bodycon dress,” adds von der Goltz. "However, today’s version of bodycon is more elegant.” Think of the fitted, body-hugging knitwear we saw Gwyneth Paltrow wearing in the ’90s. 

Another significant shift we’ve seen during COVID-19 is the rapid explosion of resale sites—the ThredUp resale report estimates that online second-hand is set to grow 69% between 2019 and 2021, while the retail sector is projected to shrink 15%. You’ll find many of the autumn buys below on resale and vintage sites, from boxy blazers and belts to Gucci’s re-released Jackie bag. So when compiling this report, I have included several second-hand shopping options to stress the timeless nature of these autumn pieces. 

From knitted vests (thanks Gucci) to statement collars made for Zoom, keep scrolling for what's what for autumn.


Belted Jackets
(Image credit: Images courtesy of Miu Miu/Jil Sander/Chloé)

Pictured above: Jil Sander, Miu Miu and Chloé

This is a simple styling update that you can probably achieve with items you already own. Every major designer had jackets and blazers (usually ones with boxy proportions) worn with a belt looped around the waist. Prada showed grey wool blazers with a black belt with a mini coin purse attached, while Miu Miu used a classic black belt to add definition to its puffer jackets. 


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Pictured above: Prada


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Pictured above: Miu Miu

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(Image credit: Images courtesy of Jil Sander/Getty)

Pictured above: Jil Sander, Proenza Schouler and Jil Sander

I wrote in our S/S 20 report about the return of ’90s clean lines, and this is continuing into A/W with a focus on fitted silhouettes. This bodycon is a world away from the Kardashian school of dressing that might come to mind, as many of these dresses had long hemlines and a relaxed feel thanks to knitted fabrics. "Today’s version of bodycon is more elegant. It was interesting to see brands bringing sexy back, but in a more modern and updated style," adds von der Goltz. "No one delivered this better than Proenza Schouler, whose dresses are figure-enhancing. The key is to keep hemlines long and style with second-skin boots." The bodycon dress is one of the items that Net-a-Porter has really backed for the autumn season, with styles from Khaite, Brandon Maxwell and the wrap-effect dresses at Burberry and JW Anderson.


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Pictured above: Burberry


(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Brandon Maxwell)

Pictured above: Brandon Maxwell

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(Image credit: Images courtesy of Celine/Nanushka/Getty)

Pictured above: Celine, Nanushka and Gabriela Hearst

When it comes to outerwear, capes were seen across the four capitals, from tweed throw-on versions at Celine that have a heritage country feel to sweeping black gown–cape hybrids at Balenciaga. For a cosier feel, I love the yellow fringed ponchos at Gabriela Hearst.


(Image credit: Image courtesy of Celine)

Pictured above: Celine


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Pictured above: Balenciaga

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Look-at-Me Collars
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Bottega, Gucci and Chloe)

Pictured above: Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Chloé

In 2020, the idea of waist-up dressing has taken hold, as many are getting ready considering what elements of the outfit will be seen (and not seen) on a video call. The A/W collections included many statement look-at-me collars, which are a welcome addition to any video call. One of the most impactful looks of the entire season was the black trouser suit that Kaia Gerber wore at Bottega Veneta, which was punctuated with an acid-green shirt collar poking out over the jacket lapel. 


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Pictured above: Bottega Veneta


(Image credit: Image courtesy of Ganni)

Pictured above: Ganni

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Colourful Checks
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Lanvin/ Stella McCartney and Brock Collection)

Pictured above: Brock Collection, Lanvin and Stella McCartney

I would guess that checks have featured on every autumn trend report that has ever been published on Who What Wear. However, for this autumn, they were punchier than usual. Instead of heritage prints, we saw grid patterns in bright and unusual colour mixes. At Dior, checks were layered to add more impact, while one of my favourite looks of the season is the burgundy-and–baby blue checked coat at Lanvin. 


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Pictured above: Dior


(Image credit: Image courtesy of Saint Laurent)

Pictured above: Saint Laurent

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(Image credit: Images courtesy of Jil Sander and Salvatore Ferragamo


Pictured above: Jil Sander and Salvatore Ferragamo

Bottega Veneta has been the brand steering trends ever since Daniel Lee took to the helm, and for A/W, everything from handbags to dresses had statement fringe finishing. Burberry had crystal fringing, while Jil Sander and Salvatore Ferragamo showed a more minimal spin on the trend with monochrome skirts and dresses adorned with a layer of fringing. 


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Pictured above: Bottega Veneta


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Pictured above: Burberry

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Knitted Vests
(Image credit: Images courtesy of Lacoste, Gucci and Dior)

Pictured above: Dior, Gucci and Lacoste

The sweater vest is dropping its Chandler Bing reputation this autumn, as many of the biggest labels included this preppy knit. Ties were another trend we saw bubbling up in the autumn collections, and at Dior and Prada, knitted vests were worn over a shirt and tie.


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Pictured above: Dior


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Pictured above: Prada

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Leather Coats
(Image credit: Getty/ Images courtesy of Miu Miu and Stella McCartney)

Pictured above: Miu Miu, Burberry and Stella McCartney

Every fashion buyer I spoke to said that they have really focused on outerwear for their autumn buy, and leather and faux-leather coats were seen in all the major collections in all four cities. Hero coats include the Burberry floor-sweeping coat with a brown leather lining, the teal belted coat at Salvatore Farragamo and Saint Laurent's brown leather trench.


(Image credit: Image courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo)

Pictured above: Salvatore Ferragamo


(Image credit: Image courtesy of Saint Laurent)

Pictured above: Saint Laurent

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Leather Separates
(Image credit: Getty/ Images courtesy of Rejina Pyo)

Pictured above: Fendi, Rejina Pyo and Chloé

Leather and faux iterations have been the key fabrics for several seasons, and they still dominated in the A/W 20 collections. "Following the wave of minimalist leather-on-leather tailoring inspired by menswear, new leather looks appeared in the collections this season," notes Hsu. "Tan and beige are, of course, still key. However, designers also incorporated new colours to create statement pieces. We also adored the nut-brown, floor-length trench coat from Bottega Veneta." 

Leather is also one of the trends the Net-a-Porter buying team is most excited by, as von der Goltz explains, "I'm excited to see the return of leather, from Salvatore Ferragamo’s leather dresses to the chic leather suits at Jil Sander."


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Pictured above: Louis Vuitton


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Pictured above: Bottega Veneta

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Party Knitwear
(Image credit: Getty/ images courtesy of Erdem and Molly Goddard)

Pictured above: Prada, Erdem and Molly Goddard

No one knows what Christmas parties will look like in 2020. However, embellished knitwear is relaxed enough to be appropriate for low-key celebrations but still has a festive spirit. Prada included speckled everyday knitwear adorned with fringed beading along the chest, while Molly Goddard layered fair-isle knits underneath tulle dresses. One of the most memorable looks I saw in the A/W 20 collections was the grey ribbed knit that Kaia Gerber wore at JW Anderson, which has a magical tinsel-effect collar over the jumper. 


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Pictured above: Altuzarra


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Pictured above: JW Anderson

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(Image credit: Getty/ Images courtesy of Miu Miu)

Pictured above: Miu Miu, Valentino and Givenchy

When it comes to colours, there were several hues that were particularly prominent, including rich chocolates, neon greens and black. However, the one colour I'm most excited about is the use of postbox red. Miu Miu and Proenza Schouler showed amazing red coats, while Valentino and Givenchy created beautiful evening gowns in red. 


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Pictured above: Proenza Schouler


(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Givenchy)

Pictured above: Givenchy

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Skirt Suits
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Miu Miu/Michael Kors/Getty)

Pictured above: Miu Miu, Hermès Michael Kors

The likes of Miu Miu, Michael Kors and Rejina Pyo all showed a skirt suit. You can either have a matching jacket and midi or mix a skirt with a blazer in a different print, using a belt to tie the look together. I particularly loved how at Nanushka, the blazer was tucked into the waistband of the pleated skirt.


(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Nanushka)

Pictured above: Nanushka