The Business of Escapism. How Festival Fashion Became the New Resort Wear

Music festivals have become the hottest ticket of the spring and summer seasons. From fashion to celebrity sightings to parties and of course music, on the surface these are why they are trending. If you can attend, the anticipation is high with curating your perfect outfits and deciding which sets you’ll be rushing to and from. If you can’t go then the FOMO is real. The revival of music events such as Coachella and EDC as a cultural phenomenon is not without reason. From a macro standpoint it stems from the, particularly millennial, desire to escape. It is much more deeply rooted then simply wanting to be in style. Then that component followed suit.


Music-A Sweet Escape

While many festivals are all-ages, Millennials are the main demographic of ticket-buyers and attendees. For this new generation many have just graduated into student loans, stagnant wages and increased inflation. Now these festivals have become almost the “adult” spring break as means to disconnect, since cell reception is at a bare minimum and you become almost unreachable to the outside world. It makes sense that a music festival is the mean for providing this experience due to its sensory overload. In addition, Millenials have prioritized experiences over the accumulation of material possessions.


Style + Social Media

On a macro scale the desire for escapism raised the popularity of festivals and on a micro level. Naturally, it trickled down to the fashion industry. What else do Millenials love? Broadcasting their lives. The push of social media is what thrust “festival fashion” into spotlight. Fashion has always been a crucial element of social events. In a paradoxical situation, the desire to unplug has come along with a desire to show that you are unplugging.


Now what do you need for a perfect Instagram post in front of the glowing Ferris wheel that greets you when you arrive at the Empire Polo Grounds? Probably, some cut off denim shorts, band tee and a pair of fringe boots. There have traditionally been three seasons in the fashion industry -Spring, Fall and Resort wear. Now, for Millenials, festival is the new resort wear. Most are not jet setting off to the Virgin Islands in late December; remember the aforementioned student debt? Instead, they’re going to SXSW in Austin, Coachella in Indio or EDC in Las Vegas. Coincidentally, apparel brands have caught on to this proverbial gold mine. The road to El Dorado is paved with suede hats, fringe shoes and oversized sunglasses.


Festivals are a weekend of music, escapism, and connectedness made possible by common interests, limited cell phone reception and the desire to go off into “another world.” Fashion brands such as ASOS and Forever 21 have reported huge financial gains due to the extra collections of festival wear they provide starting in early Spring. Many others are following suit. Some are taking it as far as throwing parties before and after the lineups with celebrities endorsing products with captions such as “Day 1 look” and a few carefully chosen emojis. Millennials are a buying market that cannot be ignored with their patterns influence companies bottom lines. So, in the fickle world of fashion if you don’t get on board you will get left behind like the flower crown did in 2015.


Christine Duff

Author: Christine Duff

Storytelling is my passion in life, whether through words across a page, a styled outfit that speaks volumes, or directing a photoshoot that expresses it visually. I live my life driven by my love of people, art, and the pursuit of happiness.