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Our Industry Columnist’s 22 fashion predictions for 2022

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON HENLEY
WORDS BY BIANCA O’NEILL

What to expect across fashion retail, trends, social media and beyond.

As lockdowns remain in our rearview mirror (for now), hope is high in the fashion industry for 2022. Physical runways are slowly returning, consumer confidence is growing, and we’re all hesitantly hanging up our track pants in favour of something a little more luxe.


Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


But after two years of disruptions, store closures, and a whole lot of sweatpant selfies, what could possibly be in store for us the third time around? Here are my predictions for retail, trends, social and beyond in 2022.

Fashion trends

Zoomer green

 

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A post shared by New Bottega Veneta (@newbottega)

Zoomer green (Gen Z’s version of millennial pink), bold orange, and big colour statements, in general, are already proliferating our increasingly maximalist feeds, and we expect to see that reflected in the coming stock for the rest of the year. But the question is, will ex-Celine fashion darling Phoebe Philo’s return to the limelight kill colour again? Will we once again return to classic minimalism? Or will she shock us with something completely different?

Pearl details

Echoing the revival of secondhand and vintage, and interestingly, seeming to transcend gender barriers, is the return of the humble pearl. Whether it be accessory detailing, all-over-pearl beading, or a simple, classic strand added to your layered neck party, pearls will continue to see a resurgence in 2022. For millennials and Gen Xers, it’s probably been ignited by the return of Sex and the City’s Carrie to our collective consciousness – and for Gen Z, it’s probably Harry Styles.

Show some skin

 

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A post shared by Olivia Rowan (@olivia._.rowan)

Skin, skin, everywhere… although this time around, it feels a little more sophisticated than the ’00s-era skin obsession. Creative cutouts will continue through to the colder season, while crop tops and low rise will make some of us shudder – and not from the weather. Even miniskirts are seeing a revival. Our only hope is that this time around it’s body agnostic – for previous iterations seemed destined to parallel a rise in unhealthy body image and media representation.

Supersize me

From big bags to big blazers, and what we’re calling ‘power pants’, small, tight, and tiny is out and supersized styling is in. Your credit cards might not be so keen on the turnaround, but your 500 totally essential purse items will be thankful for all the room. Keep your mini Jacquemus in the home archives, however – what goes around comes around.

The return of personal style

As we thankfully move away from fast fashion and the microtrend churn, we’re seeing the rise in popularity of limited edition, collab, and customised pieces, as well as the appeal of unique secondhand and vintage. This will give rise to a more individualised personal style aesthetic that will be more about telling your own style story, than looking like your favourite influencer’s twin.

Upcycling and the DIY aesthetic

 

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A post shared by Stella Vendetta (@stella__vendetta)

Within the same post-fast fashion manifesto, sustainability advocates are discovering the joys of upcycling, crafting, DIY, and mending to bring clothes otherwise destined for landfill back to life. And with so many of us bound for repeated isolation stints as COVID rages on, I can think of nothing better to do while you’re waiting for a negative result.

Y2K/twee accessories

Also harking back to a ’00s vibe, the Y2K/Disney aesthetic is hitting home again with charm bracelets, butterflies, and even iPod Shuffles as hair clips taking centre stage. Begone minimalism, for Hilary Duff’s accessories game is here to remind you that butterfly hair clips can again be worn by those over 14. And a fascination with ‘twee’ fashion is currently taking over TikTok – think mid-2010s Zooey Deschanel, cardigans, super-sized collars, Wes Anderson movies, and Mary Jane flats – so expect to see more of these styles making their way back into the mainstream.

The return of maximalist beauty

After years of lockdowns, it’s no surprise that we want to feel special again. Big colour and strong makeup are back, from coloured eyeliner to bold blush and strong lips, it’s all making a comeback as we dare to venture outside the house. Even early ’00s glitter has been gracing faces, in a desperate plea to celebrate something. The difference here, from previous iterations, is that it seems to be paired with a natural, light base as we continue to move away from that contoured, foundation-heavy look.

Ballet vibes

 

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A post shared by Maroske Peech (@maroskepeech)

Nylon is calling it ‘balletcore’, wrap tops are popping up in Zara, and even ballet flats – previously relegated to the realm of middle management train commuters and the bottom of going-out bags for the long walk home – are trendy again. It must be true, because Katie Holmes says so.

Retail and industry 

The rise of micro online retailers

As we see a return to that personal style focus, and a taste for more unique pieces that transcend the usual fast fashion drivel, Gen Z entrepreneurs are increasingly taking the opportunity that the ease and low investment of online stores offer, to develop niche and micro retailer sites. Stores like Baan, who stock small designers based in Bangkok, will add an international perspective to the local retail offering, as our travel options remain limited for now.

The continued growth of vintage and resale

 

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A post shared by Goodbyes (@goodbyes)

In news that will shock no one, vintage and resale will continue to dominate retail growth trends, with a recent report showing that 40 per cent of consumers swapped fast fashion purchases for thrifting during the past year. Not only is it great for the environment, it’s great for your wardrobe, with more unique, often better-made pieces on offer that are sure to stand the test of time.

The (eventual) death of fast fashion

Of course, what follows, is the slow decline of fast fashion behemoths – particularly those who aren’t moving with the increasingly ‘green’ times. What remains is a complicated discussion about fashion affordability for those who can’t afford to pay the unavoidable price premiums of sustainable and ethical fashion manufacture.

The pursuit of green legislation

As every designer plugged into the matrix starts to use terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ on their websites and press releases, it follows that at some point we’ll see the demand for more governance around the usage of such terms. We are unlikely to see such laws passed in 2022, but keep an eye out for the rising tide pushing local representatives toward the discussion around green fashion and labelling legislation.

Local manufacturing

 

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COVID has made it clear to many of our local designers and retailers that relying on an international supply chain is risky at the best of times. Along with the increasing discussions around transport, raw materials manufacture and sustainability, we should start to see a shift toward local manufacturing and the bolstering of our manufacturing capabilities over the next few years. (More on that discussion here.)

Sustainable spaces

Retail is finally starting to cotton on to the huge sustainability opportunities that lay within their brick-and-mortar spaces. Over the past few years we’ve seen an increase in green-friendly retail spaces, replete with recycled and found fittings and fixtures. In 2022, we’ll hopefully see these sustainable spaces stretch even further into the green space – from energy efficiency to abandoning logo-heavy bags and wrapping in favour of BYO totes.

Crossover collabs

Love them or hate them, we’re destined to see more of our favourite brands deliver brand-maximising collaborations across previously unheard-of design barriers – like Gucci’s iconic GG logo hacked into a BB for their Balenciaga collab, most recently. It follows on from Louis Vuitton x Supreme, Gucci x North Face, and Dior x Nike. Surely the next one on the block is Bottega, right? You heard it here first…

Social and digital 

The (unwanted) rise of Instagram video

It’s been on the cards for a while now – first, Instagram cut Snapchat’s grass with the creation of Instagram Stories, then IGTV. Now, it has its sights firmly on the reign of TikTok, as it makes plans to ditch its iconic photo feed, as well as the confusing combination of feed videos and IGTV, to focus on Instagram Videos. Yep, in 2022, Insta will become primarily a video sharing app, regardless of what we actually want. Don’t believe me? How about Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently saying that Instagram was ‘no longer a photo-sharing app’?.

…But they can’t catch TikTok

Regardless of Instagram’s weight, TikTok is no Snapchat, and won’t be bowled over so easily. Look, you know something is wrong with the appeal of Instagram when people start sharing non-native photo gallery montages via a video platform…

The commercialisation of NFT fashion

You might not even understand what an NFT actually is yet, but that won’t stop the virtual fashion revolution. Already, we’ve seen NFTs sneak into the sneaker market with unique collectibles attached to physical products, and where sneaker trends go, usually commercial fashion follows.

The rise of virtual retail

As the fashion industry catches up to the virtual revolution already bubbling away in sport, music and gaming, we’ll start to see groundbreaking virtual pop-ups, virtual retail offerings, and virtual real estate piquing consumer interest. Fashion brands and super fans will dabble in 2022, more out of curiosity than commitment – but it’s still to be seen whether the average consumer will pop into a virtual mall to peruse their usual eCommerce offerings.

Rise of the info-encer

 

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A post shared by Bella 🦋 (@bellahadid)

Did we coin this term, or steal it from somewhere? Either way, we’ll see a surge in popularity for influencers who actually deliver information, news, and insight in 2022, rather than just cute outfits – following on from the 2021 trend of us all increasingly seeking news and opinion on social media rather than traditional news channels. It would be nice to see influencers embrace their voice, right?

Socials go au natural

Again, following the relentless influence of the pandemic’s special-event-killing ways, we’ll be seeing less posed, more natural social posts. From the rise of photo dumps, to the popularity of less editing, less posing, and less filters, social media is trending toward more casual pics that reflect normal life, removing the polish for a more ‘real’ feed.

Bianca O’Neill is Fashion Journal’s senior industry columnist. Follow her at @bianca.oneill.

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