2014 was quite the year for fashion. It was a year in which fashion designers finally seemed poised to break into the wearable technology market–albeit a little clumsily. It was a year in which iconic early 2000s brands like Juicy Couture and Crocs stumbled mightily, and perfectly tailored jeans and bras came within the grasp of the average woman, with a little help from big data. It was a year in which U.S. Olympic uniforms revealed basic design flaws, comfortable clothing became a posture corrector, and a T-shirt designer used Comic Sans to greater effect than possibly ever before. Here’s a look back at some of our most popular fashion stories of the year.
Fashion Designers Are Finally Getting Serious About Wearable Devices
The major issue facing wearables these days is, no one actually wants to wear them. No one wants to look like a Glass-hole. But with fashion designers like Tory Burch and Opening Ceremony making their way into the wearables space, there might finally be a reason to slap on an activity tracker–because it looks great.
…Except They Haven’t Quite Nailed It Yet
When intrepid Fast Company reporter Sarah Kessler tried to don as many wearables as possible, she found that technology and fashion still haven’t found a way to totally mesh. Despite her best efforts–wearing a 3-D printed transit pass ring, a UV sensor wristband, a watch-shaped activity tracker, and a pendant that triggers fake calls–she never found a product that could please both the techno-savvy and the fashion-forward. And without both fashion and function, why bother to keep charging that device?
But Opening Ceremony Might Be The First To Get It Right
In November, Opening Ceremony unveiled My Intelligent Communication Accessory (MICA), one of the first truly glamorous wearables. Adorned with semi-precious stones, pearls, and obsidian, it sends and receives texts, provides Gmail and Google Calendar notifications, and allows you to access your Facebook events. “We wanted to create a jewelry piece, not a tech jewelry piece, focusing on style first. Something people would be really proud to wear,” Opening Ceremony designer Humberto Leon says. “We purposely positioned the screen on the inside of the wrist, so the piece doesn’t just scream ‘tech.'”
Fashion for the 99%, Finally
Former Mozilla designer Crystal Beasley wants to create the Warby Parker of jeans. After a successfully funded Kickstarter, Qcut aims to ship made-to-order jeans straight to your door, promising they’ll fit better than the 17 million pairs of designer jeans you tried on in the store. Using a woman’s height, weight, bra size, and foot size, Beasley plans to create a custom fit out of 400 possible jean sizes. Any woman who’s ever realized she’s a size 2 in one store and a size 8 just across the mall should be on board.
Bring On The Power Jeans
Great fashion is generally reserved for those rare people whose bodies are shaped like sticks, but Barbell Denim is determined to make jeans for a demographic rarely considered runway-ready: athletes. Designed by a group of weight lifters, snowboarders, and rock climbers, they’re made for muscles–bulky calves, sport-ready quads, and powerful butts. Or anyone else who wants a little more flex in their denim.
The Next Frontier In Lingerie
Designer Jenny Beuttner made her mark on this year’s Fashion Week in New York with the Shibue Strapless Panty, a line of undergarments even skimpier than a G-string. Go panty-line-free without the risk of a revealing wardrobe malfunction. These laser-cut, strapless panties are the modern-day equivalent of a fig leaf, and stick on like a Band-Aid for your nether regions.
Building A Better Bra
Bras are not the most comfortable item of clothing in most women’s wardrobes. Finding a well-fitting bra is like spotting a double rainbow. In order to make things a bit easier on the ladies, the supportive pioneers at True&Co. have identified 6,000 different female body types, sorted into eight color-coded categories that correspond to the various breast shapes and weight distributions. Using millions of data points, they’re on their way to building a bra empire founded on comfort and style, not an ill-fitting push-up.
It’s Okay To Go Commando Sometimes
Clothing startup Dear Kate wants to make it okay to go commando while exercising. Co.Design writer Carey Dunne tried the company’s yoga pants with built-in underwear designed for breathability and absorbency, and vowed to ditch her leggings. No wedgies, no bunching, no visible panty lines? Sounds like freedom.
Parisian fashion company Up Couture came on the scene this year with the Up T-Shirt, the world’s first anti-slouching shirt. The organic cotton T-shirt is lined with elastic bands that make it less comfortable to wear when you’re slouching, subtly encouraging better posture. Preventing a life of back pain isn’t a cheap fix, though–the shirts cost up to $200.
Juicy Is Dead. Long Live Juicy.
In June, Juicy Couture, a brand synonymous with pink velour sweatsuits, announced it would be closing all its U.S. stores. The former titan of celebrity non-fashion, as seen splattered over tabloid covers on the likes of Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Kim Kardashian throughout the early 2000s, is all but done for. Juicy’s downfall is a parable for the fashion world at large: all the free celebrity endorsements in the world won’t help if your design never evolves. Paris Hilton’s backside is not a business plan. So step away from the tracksuit, and next time, try plastering a new word across those velour butt cheeks every once in a while.
Crocs Are Dead. We Hope?
In July, after a 44% drop in profits in three months, rubber footwear company Crocs announced it would close 100 of its 600 stores internationally and lay off 180 of 5,000 employees. Despite expanding into new designs–high-heeled Crocs, wedges, sneakers, and even winter boots–the company couldn’t quite cut it as purveyors of a diverse range of fashionable footwear. The hole-ridden rubber clogs are still kicking, for now.
Olympic Uniforms: What A Drag
The Sochi Olympics were riddled with dust-ups, and the Olympic fashion was no exception. Halfway through the speed skating events, the U.S. skating team begged to switch uniforms, claiming their high-tech apparel from Under Armour created too much drag. Sadly, major design flaws in sports uniforms are far from unusual.
Apple, A Fashion Pioneer Before Its Time
Apple’s clothing line, the Apple Collection, didn’t exactly catch on when it was introduced in 1986. The line of oversized sweatshirts, baseball caps adorned with the rainbow Apple logo, and zany T-shirts may have been just a little too corporate couture for its time. But looking back at it in 2014, we realized–none of these pieces would look out of place in an American Apparel today.
Best Dressed, Forever
The Academy Awards aren’t really about movies; they’re about the red carpet. This chart from Media Run Digital showcases all the Best Actress winners’ dresses from the past eight decades. Not all of the pieces are knockouts, but the event is perhaps the most consistent showcase for the cutting-edge work of the most famous designers in fashion.
The Secrets Of Hollywood Costumes
Co.Design caught up with Deborah Nadoolman Landis and Judianna Makovsky, costume designers who have masterminded the fashions of films like Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Blues Brothers, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and The Hunger Games. Secrets they revealed about some of Hollywood’s most famous costumes? Indiana Jones’s pants were inspired by the California Highway Patrol, and his hat had to be shoved under a mattress and slept on to faux-age it. And Dorothy’s pinafore in The Wizard of Oz? Totally shoddy craftsmanship.
A Touch-Up As Old As Time
When Vogue featured celebrity Lena Dunham in a controversial, typically theatrical photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz for the magazine’s February 2014 issue, a feminist firestorm ensued. The star, known for her unabashed on-screen displays of a body type not often seen on Hollywood starlets, had clearly been retouched in the magazine images. But the history of manipulating images of women’s bodies wasn’t invented with Photoshop. It’s as old as the Sistine Chapel. Here’s just a brief history.
Where Fashionistas Work
Photographer Todd Selby spent three years interviewing fashion designers and photographing the work environments of both well-known creatives like Isabel Marant and Iris van Herpen and designers who work behind the scenes at big companies like Nike. Their workspaces are often full of pops of color and inspirational tchotchkes, with just as many headless mannequins as you’d expect. Spoiler: there’s nary a neat desk in sight.
Comic Sans Done Right
When a host of NBA players expressed solidarity with Staten Island’s Eric Garner–a man choked to death by a New York City police officer on camera–critics objected. Not to the message of the shirts, which read “I Can’t Breathe,” Garner’s dying words, but to the font. Comic Sans. It’s a typeface that’s often misused, and more often derided, but here, it conveys a powerful, heartfelt message.
Design Lessons From Anna Sui
Fashion’s enduring Boho queen took some time from New York Fashion Week to spill her secrets on keeping a nostalgia-fueled brand relevant. Her main point? Embrace your obsessions. This year, that meant following her love of vintage English rock posters, which later inspired her spring 2015 ready-to-wear collection. But even as she embraces the past, she’s all about the technology of the future–including digital printing and laser-cutting.