New York Fashion Week: 5 spring and summer 2020 trends you should know about

A runway model in a white dress adorned with flowers and a sash that says "Who gets to be American?"

The runway finale of Prabal Gurung’s spring and summer 2020 runway collection included models wearing beauty-pageant-style sashes asking, “Who gets to be American?”A sunny sense of optimism ran through the spring and summer 2020 collections presented here during New York Fashion Week, with labels providing the seeds of hope — in some cases literally — that brighter days for the country and our planet are just around the corner.

Although part of that feeling flowed naturally from the sunny hues and floral themes that traditionally characterize spring collections, there were a number of other trends, in silhouette, theme and color, that underscored the upbeat vibe. Here are five worth watching, including an optimistic appreciation of American sportswear.

Relaxed silhouettes

The strong-shouldered power suit that elbowed its way to center stage at the fall and winter 2019 runway shows is still very much in evidence (though, perhaps, softened ever so slightly), but the newness in the spring collections came by way of an abundance of super-relaxed, free-flowing and dialed-down options. Standouts here included Oscar de la Renta, where designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim catered to the caftan crowd with gauzy, V-necked, floor-grazing numbers trimmed in beaded fringe.

Also, there was Brandon Maxwell, who’s known for his red-carpet-worthy gowns (including Lady Gaga’s 2019 Met Gala scene-stealer) and who showed just how luxurious the classic American sportswear combo of a slouchy blazer or cardigan paired with blue jeans — ripped ones at that — can look in the right designer’s hands. (On a side note, Maxwell surprised attendees by sending his new menswear offerings down the runway alongside the women’s.)

A woman walks the runway in a look from Brandon Maxwell: beige sweater over a white collared shirt and blue jeans, ripped at the knee.

A look from the spring and summer 2020 Brandon Maxwell runway collection Sept. 7 during New York Fashion Week.
(Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo)

Two of this fashion week’s most memorable exercises in laid-back luxe came, perhaps not surprisingly, from L.A.-based labels. The first was Tom Ford, a designer whose runways are routinely filled with near-unobtainable glamour. This season he lured the fashion flock to the decidedly unglamorous venue of an out-of-service subway station to watch models parade the platform in T-shirts, leather motorcycle jackets and slouchy blazers, sleeves rolled back or pushed up, and paired with unfussy ball skirts or athletic-style short shorts.