We’re currently right in the middle of a big, exciting shift in festival fashion. Ever since the era of Woodstock, festival fashion has been very Bohemian-oriented. We all know the look: draped and flowing maxi skirts in soft and breezy rayon. Midwestern fringe on skirts, bags, jackets, dresses, and everywhere else. Flower crowns braided into locks that hang loose and free. This style hasn’t changed much since the parents (or grandparents) of today’s festival attendees were themselves headed to festivals. That’s why the change we’re seeing right now is so exciting.
Of course, when we talk about “festival fashion,” what we mean depends on what festival we’re referencing. Some festivals have their own unique style that’s become recognizable. Coachella springs to mind, as fashion designers and brands develop entire clothing lines dedicated to the three-day-weekend extravaganza. What people are wearing at festivals like Coachella is shaping mainstream fashion, which is a big deal. And it makes sense that it would – Coachella breaks annual records for attendance, with 250,000 tickets sold out within hours of their release last year. According to Digital Music News, the iconic Glastonbury festival in England has risen from 100,000 attendees in the early 2000s to over 175,000 people. These are enormous, culture-shifting events. Of course, they would set trends for fashion.
But festival culture is growing worldwide, not just for giant icons like Glastonbury or Coachella, which means an expansion of what we think of when we think of “festival fashion.” Festivals that were once small affairs have grown more popular. City festivals are becoming more popular, and that’s helping shift festival fashion in a big way.
International festivals from SXSW and Afropunk to Clockenflap and Lollapalooza all have their own looks, which influence other more as the years go by. You can go to ten festivals in a year and shift your wardrobe from glitter and glamor to neon and latex to Wellington boots, denim, and flannel. But there are some new trends that are beginning to stand out.
In general, people are moving from bohemian towards urban, eclectic, and vintage, trading out hippie wear for sportswear and streetwear. New and different festivals are emerging, each with their own unique vibes. The kinds of performers at popular festivals are expanding, too, with new music genres and the inclusion of different art forms bringing a vaster audience to festivals. This new and diverse crowd of attendees are all bringing their own flavor to the party—and fashion designers are taking note, expanding their interpretation of festival fashion to meet everyone’s taste and offer something for everyone
The Big Trends
There is an influence loop that can be observed between music festivals, runways, and the entertainment industry. Each industry shapes the next, slowly shifting overall fashion trends in one direction or another. American hip-hop and its associated urban streetwear is a global force that is only growing. Streetwear fashion is increasingly creeping onto runways and into festivals. Crochet crop-tops are being traded for the graphic T-shirts endemic to the 1990s. Brands like Supreme are absolutely everywhere. Dad caps and flat brim snap-backs are both huge, becoming as much of a festival presence as floppy felt or straw sunhats.
Fashion bloggers like Elite Daily noticed a trend towards what they described as the “Kim Possible 2.0” – motorcycle pants and baggy pants with cargo pockets, especially with camouflage print, paired with sports bras and tight, sporty crop tops. This look has its roots in 90’s R&B and hip-hop, and it’s coming back along with the rest of hip-hop streetwear styles. This look is a super cute throwback, but we love it for practical reasons, too – adding pockets to festival fashion is a game changer! To really take your festival get-up to the next level, check out The Freedom State’s Guide to Festival Outfits. This is probably the best guide on the web taking you through a selection of music festivals around the world, generational styles from the 60’s all the way through to now, and of course, some practical hints to ensure you’re functional as well as stylish.
Different Vibes for Different Tribes
One of the biggest transitions in the festival fashion world is to move away from the boho festival “uniform” towards offering options for people to play with the style they already feel comfortable in. This lends an air of fashion diversity to festivals—appropriate as festival goers themselves become more diverse, as does the talent—which is noticeable in real time.
Brands like Dolls Kill have curated collections around different kinds of festival or summer looks. You can shop by vibe, browsing through different “Lookz,” like “Festival Daze” or “Electric Dolls” or “Get Lit” for bright colors, neons, sequins, and raver gear. For a more punk-rock look, they’ve got denim, leather, spikes, and everything distressed in their “Exit Only,” “Journey To Summer,” and “Detention Club” collections. They’ve even got a line for kinksters.
If you want, you can browse their clothes and accessories by “Dolls” or aesthetics, from Darby’s punk-rock leather-n-distressed denim and band tees and Mercy’s witchy goth fishnets to Coco’s femme-bot all-things-pink Barbie princess line. Kandi’s got your club kid essentials, and Willow’s got all your traditional hippie chic. If you’re looking for how festival fashion is shifting, changing, and branching out, a scroll through the Doll’s Kill website will tell you everything you need to know. They’ve done a fantastic job at curating the changes and offering options to people whose tastes are different from the bohemian mainstream.
Staples Will Stay
Let’s be serious – some boho festival styles are here to stay. And they’re well-adored for a reason. Pastels and little white dresses are cooling colors that do better in hot summer sun than the black leather jackets of punk rock. At festivals where PLUR—peace, love, unity, and respect—is the vibe, accessories like flower crowns make the mood. And so what many designers are doing, rather than replacing, is renovating the beloved boho. Companies like Revolve, which is based in Los Angeles, have designed lines that reference boho favorites from the past few years of Coachella, but have redesigned them with a combination of newer runway trends and 90’s inspiration.
We get to keep what we like, but add a little of our own flair, whatever that might be. What’s not to love about that?