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Pedestrian chic: spring’s most practical trend

Spring, with its promises of new hope, new love and new cool stuff to buy is under way, which means that we’re due a new trend to carry us through the transitional season. And because Normcore, that infamous hypothetical pseudo-trend, is already a year old, it’s high time we buried it.

Discussing her first ready-to-wear show in Paris with WWD, French designer Vanessa Seward, a long-time collaborator of APC’s Jean Touitou, described her collection as “pedestrian”. She meant it not in the pejorative sense of the word, but rather the actual sense – clothes for women who need to get from A to B, to carry stuff, or commute to work and look good at the same time – the word struck a chord with us working women: “I always say I make fashion for the pedestrian woman who has to walk a lot, hop on the Métro and take her child to the playground,” she explained to WWD. And like that, the Pedestrian trend was born.

Flat shoes and pockets – key to Pedestrian chic. Photograph: Whistles

If it sounds too conceptual, think again: Pedestrian translates as clothes that are comfortable, practical and chic; things with pockets, in muted spring tones, which lend themselves to layering – ideal if you’re running in and out of shops, buses and the office. Think rucksacks instead of totes to keep your hands free, and massive pockets. Your role model is Emmanuelle Alt instead of Carine Roitfeld; the former preferring a slim jean and flat over the latter’s tight leather and high heels. And the labels you need are APC, YMC, Gap, Uniqlo, Samsoe and Samsoe and Whistles. Taking a leaf out of Normcore’s ultra-simplistic approach, it’s low-key style minus the labelling. And unlike Normcore, it’s not contrived – partly because, if you shop on the British high street you’re probably already doing it.

It’s certainly something that inspired Whistles’ current collection, as chief executive Jane Shepherdson explains: “The key is looking like you don’t care. And that’s how I do look except I’m the first to admit my look is studied. I’ve always been an advocate of pockets on coats and cross-body bags. Always. It’s just about getting that no-nonsense style right.”

Small Leather crossbody

She thinks the whole trend began with the re-acceptance of flat shoes last year, combined with the rise of sportswear or athleisure: “It’s essentially about reclaiming comfort,” she says. After years of working in heels she was relieved to see that flatforms and chic trainers were becoming acceptable workwear, as opposed to weekend wear for yoga mums: “It’s not trendless, because it is a statement. It’s one of the most confident looks you can do.”

Shepherdson should know. From the current collection, Whistles’ biggest sellers have been jumpsuits, culottes, boyfriend jeans and 70s flared jeans along with its heavy soled and loafer sneakers – not a dress or heel in sight. Gap, equally, has rolled out a series of boyfriend-style jeans, dungarees and cross-body handbags and Uniqlo has released another +J collection that couldn’t embody pedestrian more.

Pedestrian by Marks Spencer

If, in a post-Normcore world, coining a trend for something relatively ordinary feels trite then fair enough, “except” finishes Shepherdson, “this time round it’s definitely happening”. After all, in 2014 working women made up almost half the workforce, suggesting Pedestrian is fashion for the 46% (Normcore, famously, was fashion for the one in seven billion). So it’s about time fashion caught up.

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