This season’s It buy is not a bag, and is not weather-appropriate. Rather, it’s a pair of statement summer gloves. Black, or brightly coloured, usually in synthetic rubber or PVC, they have nothing to do with practicality – and everything to do with aesthetics.
First seen this year on Vogue’s February cover, where Nicole Kidman sported a pink pair from Italian maker Sermoneta, gloves appear twice in its September issue, the largest and most scrutinised of the year: Rihanna wears orange Prada gloves on the cover and, inside, a lace pair by Cornelia James.
Most high-fashion gloves are black. Those in Marc Jacobs’s spring/summer collection were long and matte; Max Mara’s were also long, in tight leather. Aalto has a pair in marigold orange, while pink rubber gloves in Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein collection cost £385 and bear an uncanny resemblance to washing-up gloves. At Richard Quinn’s show, chintzy tops came with gloves attached to the sleeves, and ballgowns were paired with leather gloves at Valentino.
The trend is proving stubbornly long-lived. Autumn variations come in pink and purple (Chanel), or shiny black (Moschino). They’ve even made it into menswear – Raf Simons’ eponymous label saw models in long mustard pairs. And, while one of the most surprising accessory trends of recent years has been the single statement earring, Louis Vuitton models wore just one leather glove.
With the global market for high-end personal goods at its lowest since 2009, none of this is hugely surprising. Brands are doing what they can to push revenue – and accessories currently drive sales far more than clothing. That does not make them any easier to wear in real life. Elle’s fashion features editor, Sara McAlpine, thinks collectibility could be part of their appeal. “I don’t even like gloves, but I was quite into an embroidered tulle pair by Gucci,” she said.
What these gloves lack in practicality, they at least make up for in affordability. Rihanna’s Cornelia James lace numbers cost £70 – a snip compared with her £3,460 Saint Laurent dress. Elle features a pair by Sweden’s Filippa K that cost £75. The bestselling gloves at M&S are pillar-box red and £17.50. The Gucci gloves may cost £175, but are decidedly cheaper than anything else in the collection. Failing that, a hardware store will probably have a sturdy work pair for under £5.
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