Trend Watch: SXM Festival Foreshadows 2019 Festival Fashion

V went tropical to investigate what’s going to be filling your feeds this festival season.

Now officially spring, the temperate climate means one thing: less clothing layers. Outdoor activities like music festivals, are now commonplace and while they are notorious for body art, tribal jewelry, and multi-print, multicolored pieces that are as editorial as they are wearable, each year promises a new circumstantial approach to the classic. This year, the SXM festival showcased an unexpectedly subdued spin on this years’ runway.

V ventured to the island of Sint Maarten to attend the niche house, dance, and techno SXM festival for a pre-Spring look of what styles to expect this fashion season. Though the island is still recovering from Hurricane Irma’s wrath in 2017, the battered boardwalks were inundated with a generation hell bent on losing themselves in a rhapsody of rhythmic trance, an experience enhanced by the fluidity of their outfits. Founder of the SXM festival, Julian Prince, said it best when he recalled his first impression of the niche music scene as a child – focused on the ravers’ looks versus the sound: “I saw adults dressed as bunnies and my first impression was, ‘What is wrong with those people?’ Then I just started leaning into the music a little more trance enchanting,” he said, trademark cut-off gray tone tank and glimmering silver kicks with Nickelodeon-level orange heal radiating in the island sun.

Sequin Shock – Sequined body art is perhaps the most obvious mark of a festival-goer on the French-Dutch island. The bindi – a South Asian traditional marking of the “third eye” by a sequined sticker placed squarely in the middle of one’s forehead – was swapped out for patterned shiny geometric shapes around the eyes, and splattered across midriffs and bellies. Most of the sequin were either in a lustrous gold or silver metallic for a play on jewelry without being weighed down in the over 80-degree climates with jewelry. If you never got the chance to visit the much-Instagrammed about David Zwirner’s, Yayoi Kasumi’s “Give Me Love” exhibit, these festival revelers are your best bet.

Classic Crochet – Perhaps the most understated look at the festival, crochet was updated with thicker knots in the classic stark white. But instead of doily-like homespun shapes, they were refashioned into off-the-shoulder body-con dresses with pops of color, bralettes, two-piece sets, and more. Dolce and Gabanna’s 2019 collection featured a black cropped tank and above-the-ankle-length pencil skirt in a heavy black crochet, layered with matching cardigan.

Preservation Print and Verdant Vibrancy – The SXM festival is an example of millennial “voluntarism” – a tourism that emphasizes mingling with the locals, embracing their culture, and giving back particularly with regard to eco-sustainability in post-trauma climates. In fact, SXM festival founder, Julian Prince, highlights the use of natural elements used to create the elaborate sets. “Nature provided us with 40 beaches and we’re meant to enjoy it,” Prince said. “The experience is definitely designed on what nature and what the place, the island offers.”

The bed of leaves on the floor at the Jungle Party at Loterie Farms naturally fell off. On Pinel Island – a small beach islet on the St. Maarten’s French Side with nothing other than shore side shacks, has a lone 4 by 4 market with signs next to hollowed-out fruit that says “baby birds nesting – do not disturb.” Instead of dated Hawaiian prints, similarly relaxed open-collar, wide-sleeved shirts had wildlife – elephants, leopard prints, and birds. Many of the color-schemes were black and white. Hydrangeas aside, there are palm tree patterns and leafy branches.



Boudoir Bondage – At the SXM Festival’s VIP Villa Party, bikinis were rampant. Granted, the over 90-degree weather and sun beating directly on the 1200 VIP ticket holders made the swimsuit apparel a fitting choice. Yet in addition to a table set up for glitter body application, table set with an array of patent leather black garters, straw clutches, floral kimonos, and had been set. “When you’re a DJ and you go to a church, look at the priest and you want to put some decks on the table and throw a nice party – the house calls for it. Hanging opposite of the VIP Villa Party table was an ensemble of wide legged translucent black pants, black, cropped tank and black kimono.

Tie-Dye Tizzy – In keeping with one of this year’s Spring fashion trends, tie-dye, festival-goers sported an array of t-shirts, headbands, and shorts in a psychedelic splash of rainbow-inspired colors. The traditional tie-dye looks, as opposed to monochromatic tonal ombre, reflected not only the colors of the island’s fauna and flora, but also the spirit of the SXM festival – a raucous scene, filled with incense-enclosed sets on sandy shores, in rainforests, and landscaped villas with a more tightly-controlled bar area requiring multiple levels of credit card sign-up that didn’t require pocket-laden garments and a required tip even for bottled water. No one complained, instead going with the flow.


Brazen Braids – A clear indication of having just come from the Caribbean? Tightly braided rows of hair along the scalp weaved by the master-hands of locals, usually on the beach. For a boutique-music scene, the braids are mainstream in pop culture. Even Alexander McQueen’s Victorian-inspired looks are paired with plaited hair. V spoke to one such master on Maho beach: “Kim Kardashian does two big braids, but Alicia Keys, she does a side braid and this is what Natalie here is getting,” she said. “You just buy a bandana to tie it at night. It can last for week; It’s easy to maintain.” The braids keep hair off of one’s face while enabling an array of looks, ideal for raving and styling that will last the duration of the festival’s 5 days.

Discover More