Festival fashion is back as Coachella marks the return of the big outdoor music party | Fashion
Festival fashion is back with its riot of colour, sequins, wreaths of flowers and anything-goes-outfits. After a two-year pandemic-related hiatus, Coachella, the California-based music festival that draws 250,000 fans, returned this weekend, bringing with it lively new trends and a money-boost for the fashion industry.
The hottest event of the festival season, Coachella is known for both its outfits and its performances. The trends for the rest of the year’s festival wear are often driven by the outfits worn by celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Katy Perry and Gigi Hadid. Coachella is particularly important for streetwear brands and fast fashion labels. Boohoo-owned fast fashion label Pretty Little Thing, streetwear resale site StockX, and US-based Gen Z retailer Revolve will be sponsoring spaces at the festival, not just to promote attendees, but those as well watching from home and on social media.
Ebony-Renee Baker, fashion editor at website Refinery29, describes it as “such a huge commercial opportunity for brands and influencers – it’s just gotten so huge now and it’s being watched around the world.”
Revolve’s chief brand officer, Raissa Gerona, described Coachella to industry analysis site The Business of Fashion as “substantial, it’s massive… it’s that kind of Super Bowl.”
Festivals have long influenced fashion since Woodstock cemented hippie chic as an aesthetic in 1969. Over the years, images of ravers in fields and Kate Moss in Glastonbury have made tracksuits and Hunter wellies all the rage. Recently, crochet and cycling shorts have been festival trends – now a staple of summer style. There have also been moments of controversy, such as in 2017 when the trend towards Native American-style headgear led to claims of cultural appropriation.
Influencers also earn considerable sums of money. Maryam Ghafarinia, who has 186,000 followers on Instagram, described it New York Post how she will capitalize on attending Coachella, charging brands over $2,000 (£1,530) per post from the site.
Amy Luca, senior vice president at Media.Monks, a global marketing and advertising services company, said those sums are dwarfed by the fees of household names: “If you’re talking about models and reality TV stars, that [payment] can be up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Baker said festival season is often an opportunity for people to try trends. “I’m predicting lots of vintage-inspired ’90s looks, tulle skirts and leotards from Balletcore, floral dresses from Cottagecore, straw hats and lots of lace,” she said.
Fast fashion brands know that festival season is a time when consumers spend – The Business of Fashion reports a 173% increase in sales of festival fashion items across websites Boohoo, H&M, Asos and Nasty Gal im Compared to 2019. This doesn’t lend itself to a sustainable approach to fashion, although Baker says festival-goers will be looking for more sustainable options. “More people than ever are gravitating towards thrift and vintage shopping. Personally, I love a fresh new outfit for festivals, but always look for second-hand options first.”
Sustainable fashion and textiles consultant Philippa Grogan describes festival fashion as “instant fun – [a bit like] the festive Christmas dress, but in summer”. She says this prompts her “question whether [the clothes] are built to last… Then there’s the kind of aesthetic of it all, lots of sequins and lurex, which are often largely derived from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas because they’re basically plastic.”
Grogan suggests getting smart is an option. “Cut sequins out of existing non-plastic things,” she said, “[and then] dress up an old cardigan or something.” When it comes to making an impact in festival fashion, creativity like this is a big step: “You always wear something unique when you really craft something at home from existing materials.”