The modern comfort of cocooning
Surrounding oneself with a shell of safety. In a world of online communication and a reality where we touch the screen of our phones more than any other object, the crave for a sense of physical presence is stronger than ever.
In 1981, as a reflection of the collective conscious, the trend forecaster Faith Popcorn introduced the concept of Cocooning. The term refers to creating a shelter in the cosy comfort of the own home and the desire to spend more time inside closing out society. The sweetness of internationalisation of the time came with a somewhat bitter taste. With global reporting, live broadcasting and the faster spin of information, the world was forced to face fractions. When confronted with cruelness people started to seek safety and sympathy. Playing on the emotions of empathy, Cooconing became a way to care, to come together and to handle harshness.
Going from a state where excess was the expression, the greater values in life became far more fundamental. It was no longer mainly about consumption, but to care for what was close. Cocooning is a contradiction and can both be seen as a counterpart to capitalisation as well as a contribution of turning itself into a trend. With shopping previously being something done to put up a display for others to discover, it paved the way for the larger segment of lifestyle products. The phenomenon of Cooconing can for example be explained as a potential reason for the Video Camera Recorder hype, a driving factor behind the fast food take out boom and a source of inspiration for the increased interest for interiour. Dining in with friends rather than going out, watching a sitcom in the comfort of the own couch or cuddle up in soft materials such as curduroy can all be connected to this new way of living.
As fashion follows the streams of society, Cocooning was of course captured in clothing. With people spending more time inside dressing down rather than up it required a style reinvented for the realm of the household and the success of leisurewear was a fact. What had previously been associated with functionality now became the latest fashion, feeding some of the most distinctive styles of the era. Down vests, velour pieces and stretchy leggings all symbolize the comfort of Cooconing.
Even though the leg warmers of the 80s might be tucked away, trends have a tendency of recreate themselves and Cooconing have revisited the scene of style in many shapes over the years. During the 90s and early 20th the trend was reincarnated in what is best described as the travel wear boom having the icons of the time sporting comfy jumpsuits, luxurious layering, bohochick minnetonkas and relaxed retro dresses. Style stars such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Sienna Miller personified the update and celebrities like Paris Hilton turned Juicy Couture and Uggs into a unified uniform. One could suggest that the return of Cocooning can be traced to events of terrorism as well as the raise of environmental concerns, feeding not only fashion but the overall craze for all things organic.
With today's sleek and cool surfaces being a result of digital transformation, we see a third wave of Cooconing coming. Despite being extremely well equipped for an easy living inside, spoiled with possibilities of having food delivered, socialize on the web and working from home, we long for belonging more than ever. Where digital tools take away the feel of the human touch, people seek a substitute in style. The comfort of cashmere, the softness of silk and the luxe of leather, all working as shielding shelters. In shaky times we simply turn to chunky knits and voluminous fits, a quality garment rather than quick fix solutions and durable designs rather than temporary trends.
And the references this season is not be mistaken. With one of the most talked about collection basically being a contemporary reconstruction of Cocooning, Vetements sent out fuzzy Juicy Couture and fluffy Canada Goose collaborations at the catwalk. With exclusive fabrics trickled down to the chain stores and the generously shaped down jacket signed Balenciaga being the talk of town, the attributes of cocooning is predominantly present. Investing in classics with interesting cuts and collecting pieces that is to be carried over seasons is a smart way to stay safe in style, reproducing a modern cocooning.
Shop your shelter!