Wardrobe staples rarely become fashion statements unless they have undergone radical changes in style, form or color to make them stand out, or unless they no longer form part of the everyday wardrobe and therefore have become a novelty. As time and technology render certain items of clothing unnecessary, the fashion industry often adopts them as accessories and includes them in seasonal trends.
Aprons are a classic example of clothing which has been refreshed by the fashion industry following a decline in use. In the early to mid 1900s, aprons were popular not only for tradesmen, but also for those working in the home and garden. Aprons may have included some fashionable colour and style, but their main purpose was to protect the clothes underneath from damage, spillages or stains.
This protection was important, as garments were not as easily washed or replaced as they are today. Thanks to modern washing machines and with clothing being both more abundant and affordable now than in the past, there is less need for aprons to be used in the home and in the garden. While we may fondly remember our grandmothers wearing an apron, later generations such as our mothers are unlikely to have worn them – or if they did, they have since ceased wearing them when aprons fell out of favour in the general population.
Aprons are still very useful in workwear and as part of uniforms; particularly for tradespeople and in industries such as hospitality and catering. Aprons help to distinguish tradespeople and they can provide a practical function in many workplaces. For example, in a restaurant, an apron can hold an order pad and pen, and in a hotel an apron can hold keys and a room list. However, aprons have still become a novelty because they aren’t needed as much (if at all) in the home and therefore the apron has been rarely seen outside of workplace – until now!
The fashion world took an interest in the apron in 2014, partly because of the novelty of the apron and partly because fashion has been experimenting with additional fabric on garments in the last couple of years. Aprons have been adding a twist to fashion catwalks ever since, such as the apron seen in the Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2015 line.
Apron dresses increased in popularity during 2015 and continue to be popular this year. For their Autumn 2016 collections, high street brands such as including ASOS, Miss Selfridge, Karen Millen, Urban Outfitters and French Connection are all embracing the apron dress, so it seems that the apron dress may be here to stay in the longer term.
Aprons have continued to inspire designers this year, too. Outfits by Michael Kors, Bottega Veneta, David Koma, Costume National and J Mendel all revealed designs that were inspired by and included aprons. The Spring/Summer 2016 pieces from these brands featured an apron neckline and were tied at the waist in the same way as an apron.
The Autumn/Winter 2016 collections followed suit of the Spring/Summer 2016 collections by continuing to include apron styles in their designs. Richard Malone presented an apron dress among his designs on an Autumn/Winter 2016 catwalk and DKNY had apron-style skirts in their Autumn/Winter 2016 collection.
Apron fashion has been making an impact in the media. Along with numerous write-ups of which runway designers are featuring aprons, aprons are also appearing in fashion edits. For example, Prada aprons have been featured in a Spring 2016 workwear fashion edit in Harpers Bazaar.
As with any popular trend or fashion accessory, celebrity endorsement helps to solidify the new status of aprons as a fashion must-have. Kendall Jenner stepped out in an apron skirt in April 2015 which helped to boost popularity of this style of skirt last year. For Fashion Week 2016, Olivia Palermo made a bold fashion statement by wearing a striped apron which was generated excitement.
As you can see, aprons are a hot trend in fashion right now and with designers, high street brands and celebrities getting behind the idea, it seems set to stay that way. While aprons may have declined in households across the globe, they are enjoying a resurgence of popularity as on-trend fashion accessories to adorn items of clothing. We’re now waiting for designers to reveal their Spring/Summer 2017 collections to find out how aprons are going to continue to inspire fashion design next year on both the catwalk and on the high street.