Rise of the Colour Brown

Ulla Johnson AW20/21

Ulla Johnson

WGSN has been tracking brown as a key colour for several seasons, but in 2020 we expect it to reach its full commercial potential. Brown has strong connotation with retro looks which will continue to play into trends in a big way.

We have forecasted a story titled Reconstructed Legacy, which centres around the widespread trend for heritage design with modern appeal. We will continue to see brands delve back into their archives and reissue classics, evoking warm feelings of nostalgia.

Warehouse womenswear brown


To bolster this, we will continue to see an exponential rise in the rental and resale markets, alongside the shift towards more sustainable models, which is now an imperative for fashion businesses. Brown will play a key part in this major shift via iconic vintage pieces.

WGSN data tracks brown as one of the fastest growing colours across all womenswear market segments for A/W 19/20. The numbers have risen by 23% in the UK and 24% in the US YoY to hold 4.3% of the UK and 3.6% of the US mix. This supports the big colour shift that’s happening at the moment in womenswear, as trend-led brands continue to back core colours such as brown over frivolous fashion brights.

Alyx / Acne Studios AW20/21

Alyx / Acne Studios

I do think brown is rising in direct response to consumer demand, too. Currently, consumers’ priorities are rooted in longevity, practicality and function. They are attracted to colours that are versatile, timeless and seasonless, working across their capsule wardrobe.

The customer will also often associate brown with luxury; this is particularly true for accessories. For womenswear, we are seeing 1970s tan shades reach mass appeal, but feeling newest are the darker, brown-verging-on-black tones, which we’re calling out as Bitter Chocolate.

This has bubbled up as a key colour within the trend for 1990s minimalism and the huge continued growth of the tailoring category, with some of the big designers of the era, from Prada to Alaïa, resurfacing as key inspiration points.

Awake AW20/21


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