Remember when trends used to be called trends? Whether it was grunge, logomania, or minimalism, you could chart a clear path from the runways to your closet. But ever since the 2013 rise of “normcore” (followed by “gorpcore” a few years later), some of fashion’s biggest themes come from social media-born “aesthetics” and “cores.” Now, rather than taking cues from the catwalks in Paris or Milan, people are finding inspiration everywhere from popular television shows to nostalgic movies and toys — and, of course, sharing it with their followers. Getting dressed is not just about a good outfit anymore; it’s a lifestyle-encompassing way to communicate to the world how you self-identify.
Take, for example, the current obsession with corsets and fanciful dressing, both of which can be traced to the popularity of Bridgerton. Dubbed Regencycore, over-the-top gilded looks have also influenced the ways people decorate their homes and even how they plan birthdays and weddings. To wear this style is to tell the world that you enjoy unabashed femininity and glamour. Coastal Grandmother, a phenomenon that blew up this past summer, is another example of a trend that has little to do with what designers are creating. Based on the elegant, loose-fitting styles commonly worn by the main characters in Nancy Meyers movies, the style is an homage to a certain understated, old money sensibility — the kind of clothes an Ivy League-educated septuagenarian might wear while reading Ann Patchett on a Hamptons beach. It’s safe to assume that those who adopted Ina Garten-cosplay relish being seen as low-maintenance yet perfectly put together. And then, of course, there’s Barbiecore, one of the rare examples of the runway (namely Valentino’s Pink PP collection) colliding with pop culture (viral images from the upcoming Barbie movie). This caused a steady stream of celebrities and influencers in magenta clothing to fill our feeds, thus inspiring like-minded attention-seekers to create similarly vibrant ensembles.
All of this makes sense to Steve Dool, brand director at Depop. “Fashion has always been reflective of our collective sentiments and emerging trends in wider pop culture. It’s no surprise that we are seeing trends bubble up earlier and earlier each year,” he says, adding that the best way to predict what’s next is by looking at a few major factors. “Key cultural moments like upcoming blockbuster film releases, a new class of cultural tastemakers, and, to some degree, what we have seen fresh off the runway this season [will inform what people want to wear in 2023].”
So what does this mean for 2023? We asked the minds at Depop, Pinterest, as well as a trend forecaster for their top predictions for the next batch of big “cores.” Read on to learn what they bet will blow up in the months ahead.
Perhaps it was the chaos of the last few years that made the Coastal Grandmother aesthetic — with all its soothing color palettes, easy silhouettes, and comforting textures — a sleeper hit in summer 2022. It offered breezy outfits one could wear sitting on the beach, with a glass of chardonnay in hand. So how does Coastal Grandmother suddenly become Mermaidcore? According to Depop, the two ideas are closely intertwined. The resale site’s 2023 trend report showed users taking the "coastal" aspect quite literally by incorporating seaside motifs like shells, iridescence, coral tones, and scallop hems into their wardrobes. But instead of evoking an early ‘00s Diane Keaton character, the vibe is more siren with a sense of escapism and romance. If the last bit sounds a bit like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, that’s because the movie will be a huge influence when it releases next summer.
Fans who want to add Mermaidcore to their wardrobes are looking to the likes of Di Petsa (the brand is known for its skin-hugging, dripping wet designs) as well as J.W. Anderson’s Spring 2023 collection, which mixed playful ocean-themed prints with slinky lingerie-inspired dresses. And while colors like Viva Magenta and Digital Lavender have recently been touted by the likes of Pantone and WGSN, respectively, Mermaidcore devotees are betting big on aquamarine (naturally) as their shade of choice for 2023.
On TikTok we’re all the main characters of our story, so why not embrace the best main characters of them all — namely, the heroines of your favorite romantic comedies from the early aughts? According to Marta Topran, fashion and beauty creator lead at Pinterest, this idea makes sense given how nostalgic fashion is at the moment. “We’ve seen ‘90s and Y2K trending for a while, but now, people are chasing more than an aesthetic, they’re [romanticizing their lives],” she says. “And who better to help them channel that than the amazing female stars of [that era]? With the Rom-Comcore trend we identified in the 2023 Pinterest Predicts report, people are saying no to being a supporting role in the movie of their life — they’re the stars.”
To dress the part of the heroine, all you have to do is choose your favorite movie, find its most pivotal moments, and chances are you’ll find a remarkably similar outfit somewhere on the internet. Are you into Kate Hudson’s yellow silk gown from How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days? Reformation makes a similar one. Rather wear Jennifer Garner’s striped Versace number from 13 Going on 30? Name a fast-fashion retailer and chances are they have a version. “Slip dresses, tube tops, mini skirts, and cargo pants are among the trends that dominated the 2000s rom-coms and are making a huge comeback,” Topran says.
Tucked within this trend is a microtrend that’s known as the “Frazzled English Woman” aesthetic. Russh, an Australian magazine, first created the term on TikTok to refer to heroines like Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones’s Diary or Iris Simpkins in The Holiday. Unlike their glamorous American counterparts, these women are decidedly less formal — think hair claws, skinny scarves, opaque tights, and slumpy knits. It’s cozy but also a bit frumpy and haphazard, much like the characters they reference.
Life is a movie to those who embrace Rom-Comcore, complete with their own makeover montage. Whether it’s dressing like the sloppy protagonist in the “before” shots or the polished and shiny main character energy in the “after,” you won’t be able to escape the onslaught of TikTok videos documenting every step of this heroine’s journey.
If any trend on the list is a surefire bet for 2023, it’s futuristic, a space-age style that references the heavens. According to Pinterest, searches for dystopian outfits, futuristic glasses, and cyber streetwear are up. On Depop, users had their heads in the clouds, seeking out Dua Lipa-inspired celestial disco designs like chain mail, feather trims, and cut-out bodysuits. But no one summed it up more aptly than trend forecaster and TikTok personality Mandy Lee, aka @oldloserinbrooklyn, who foretold this trend this time last year. “In December 2021 I made videos predicting retro futurism and space-age influence would become big influences in the years to come,” she says. “Silver, metallics, hooded garments are all trends that stem from the 1960s space-age movement and they’ve come back in a more mainstream way.”
Blame the news cycle and the economy for the collective obsession with space and the future. While billionaires are competing to launch themselves into the galaxy while on Earth, the rest of us are fearful of a looming recession. According to Lee, this precise intersection of technological advances and latent anxieties about our future has historically predicted futuristic styles both during the 1960s, when the space race first began amidst tumultuous cultural change, and again in Y2K, when we worried about our computers destroying civilization.
Like Rom-Comcore, there’s also a subset to this trend: the return of the Galaxy print, which Lee noted was seen at the latest Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2023 runway show in Cairo. Splashed on jackets and leggings, they call back to the ones we saw during the Indie Sleaze era and also tie back into Depop’s Celestial Disco fascination. While it might be eye-catching, don’t expect it to be the dominating feature of Futurecore. “The [printed looks] were essentially copy/paste from 2010 but I don’t think it will shape up to be as big as it once was. [However], the influence is there,” she says.
While Westerncore first emerged in 2020 as a TikTok trend, it’s poised to grow in popularity, especially as Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, happen to be some of the most talked-about television shows at the moment. However, if you’ve never watched an episode of either, nor have the desire to ride a horse in the great Wyoming wilderness, look to the runway for an elevated take on the aesthetic. Chanel’s Fall 2022 couture show opened with a green tweed suit worn with cowboy boots, while Thom Browne cheekily closed his Spring 2023 menswear show with an assless chap ensemble. And perhaps the most telling sign this look will stick is a recent batch of paparazzi photos featuring Kim Kardashian wearing yassified fringe trousers while attending holiday events in Los Angeles.
It’s quite likely that the biggest evidence of Westerncore’s looming supremacy will be seen once music festival season kicks into high gear come spring. Sure, cowboy hats and boots, denim, and fringe have always been staples at the likes of Coachella or Stagecoach, to the point of being tropes. This year, however, expect attendees to look less like caricatures and more like the models at Ganni’s spring 2023 show, adding yeehaw touches to everything from lacy dresses to neon pants to leopard print co-ords. It’s cool enough to win over even the biggest city slicker.
Call it the “Bella Hadid meets Julia Fox” effect — another big trend emerging on Depop is the rise in searches for “grunge sleaze” as inspired by the two women. Equal parts slouchy, sexy, and deliberately unconventionally attractive, it’s an aesthetic for those who aren’t afraid to forge their own paths. “Following grunge-inspired collections from Bottega Veneta and Diesel [as well as] an iteration of the biker-core trend we spotted in 2022, Depop’s community are subverting Y2K aesthetics and subcultures into a darker space that’s rebellious [with a sense of] curated ugliness,” notes the company’s trend team in its report. Featuring plenty of leather and oversized denim as well as body-baring tank tops and bralettes, it looks haphazard and a little dirty. For those reasons, it lacks the universal appeal as some of the more approachable trends on this list but that’s precisely why it’ll resonate with certain crowds.
Thought Barbiecore was over? Think again. The style has just been taking a quick break, waiting to explode again with the release of Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie movie next summer. Back in June, images of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling dressed in neon roller skating outfits that looked straight out of the ‘80s went viral and Depop is betting that once the film is out, users will be obsessed with the “greed decade” once again. While most of the site’s searches lean more towards the softer side of the epoch, with Harry Styles-esque trousers and sweater vests, they also expect to see a jump in demand for neon activewear as well as windbreaker jackets and other fitness-adjacent attire.