The last few years have been a study in contradiction. Sweatpants reigned supreme — but so did strappy separates. ‘Ugly’ shoes made a comeback, while high heels also staged a return. Fashion trends have occupied far-reaching ends of the spectrum and if you think about it, that all makes sense. The peak of quarantine required everyone to tone it down for WFH environments and wear what’s most comfortable for an at-home desk. But, that can only last so long before the thirst for getting dressed up again must be quenched, and the collective desire to put on something splashy is stronger than ever. These factors considered, it makes 2022’s biggest trends all the more complex.
The year’s fashion highlights have mirrored this oscillation between practicality and flamboyance. Ahead, hear from experts from some of the most important retailers in the industry on the trends — both macro and micro — that they have seen take flight in 2022; not trends in the fleeting sense of the term, but rather, items and ideas that are helping to shape the zeitgeist of what is sure to be considered a very pivotal time in fashion’s history.
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Macro Trend: All Things Sexy
It’s palpable in the air — “sexy” is back. Of course, this translates differently for everyone, but generally speaking: more skin, more edge, more fun. “We’ve definitely seen the return to sexy and party wear, which seems like a natural progression from a long bout of comfort clothes; a cry for liberation if you will,” Browns buying manager Holly Tenser tells TZR. “Micro-mini lengths were everywhere on the runways, perfected by the likes of Miu Miu, Valentino, and MAXIMILIAN. We saw longer but still daring styles, such as thigh-high slits from Loewe and Alessandra Rich, oozing sexiness with a touch of sophistication.” She also notes that cutouts spotted at Rick Owens and LVMH finalist Rui were noteworthy. "Up top we’ve seen corsets everywhere, with Dion Lee mastering this style as per usual,” she says. “Another Australian designer leading the vanguard for sexy is Christopher Esber, who has such a breadth of offering for this trend, from cleverly placed peekaboo detailing, to sashes and full body-flossing.”
Micro Trend: Preppy Polos
For The Yes creative and fashion director Taylor Tomasi Hill, off-kilter prep has always been a part of her style, and it’s a trend she has seen come into focus in 2022. “I'm loving the new influx of preppy polos, especially in primary colors that feel nostalgic,” she says. “A little school-kid-meets-Margo-Tenenbaum, they're perfect with vintage denim and your favorite chunky sandal.”
Macro Trend: Arts & Crafts
A trend that’s made its way around the cycle before and is once again having a moment is craft. “From stitchy intarsia sweaters to printed puffer coats, this vibrant trend gave life to cozy items,” Nordstrom managing fashion editor Kate Bellman tells TZR. “We will definitely see this continue through the spring, as seen on the runways, with artisan details such as crochet and patchwork, large scale global prints, and electrifying colors.” One specific runway where this trend hit its stride was in Paris during the Spring/Summer ‘22 shows. “At Chloe, Gabriela Hearst is putting the spotlight on craftspeople and drawing attention to global artisans,” MATCHESFASHION head of womenswear Cassie Smart says. “This product doesn’t feel driven by trend or time, it feels collectible. The pieces all tell their own stories and place an emphasis on global luxury production, which is another key focus for us.”
Micro Trend: Baguette Hobo Bag
A handbag silhouette that strikes the perfect balance between utility and style is the baguette hobo. “A coffee and an iPhone and the sticky hand of a cute kiddo — I already have my hands full, so adding a bag into the mix is out of the question,” Tomasi Hill says. “Handsfree bags aren't just trending, they're a necessity. I love a versatile crossbody (Bottega for the freakin’ win) but a cool baguette over the shoulder is a good way to change things up.”
Macro Trend: Colorful Brights
“Poppy, cheery, and punchy colors are coming your way,” Shopbop fashion director Caroline Huang Maguire says. “Think hot pink, lime green, bright purple, cobalt blues, and marigold, either on their own or mixed together.” The trend savant notes that she’s seeing bright palettes everywhere and envisions this celebratory style of dressing will continue.
Micro Trend: Slouchy Denim
“When denim shopping this year, look for things like a light vintage wash, upcycled or sustainable fabrics, and the perfect slouch,” Tomasi Hill says. “I start my look from the bottom up (pants, shoes, socks even!) so denim is always high on my radar.” Curious to know which pair she’ll be wearing for 2022? “I’ve been living in my B Sides Lasso jeans!”
Macro Trend: Forever Wears
Less a trend and more a mindset, perhaps, but NET-A-PORTER senior market editor Libby Page sees a shift in shopping patterns toward investments and items that will retain their value. “We have seen a move away from pieces that fulfill a ‘one-time wear’ and a marked shift towards items that will stand the test of time,” she says. From classic coats and blazers to perfectly-tailored denim and oh-so-soft sweaters, these staples will never go out of style.
Micro Trend: Chunky Platform Mules
Tomasi Hill is nodding toward chunky platform mules as a standout footwear moment for the year, despite the fact that they’re bolder and braver than the perennial low heel. “It’s funny how your eyes adjust to trends and ‘normalize’ them,” she observes. "A few years ago, it was totally outrageous from a fashion sense to wear Crocs. Now, we keep upping the ante with platform Crocs and rubber mules that are so ugly, they're irresistible.”
Macro Trend: Homme Girl
t.a. owner and buyer Telsha Anderson-Boone is a big fan of the “Homme Girl” aesthetic that she’s spotted on the streets of New York, on her customers, and in her own social circle. “Power suits are making their way back to our closets! There's been a huge shift in consumer shopping habits since 2020, and the positive shift has allowed more individuals to explore other ways of dressing and ultimately return to styles and reimagine them in ways that continue to surprise me."
Micro Trend: Bomber Jackets
Movie-inspired trends have been a major player this year (think: Barbiecore). According to NYC-based stylist Alison Bruhn, the same goes for bomber jackets. “Bomber jackets are having a moment because of Top Gun,” Bruhn tells TZR. “Khaite has a shearling-lined version that is a favorite with fashion insiders, as well as the version that can be found at Ralph Lauren Collection in brown distressed leather. The Frankie Shop, a relatively new French label gaining traction, does a satin, slightly oversized version that is a great option.”
Macro Trend: Boots All The Time
Boots, boots, boots! They’re everywhere in It Girl fashion this year. “From metallic to leather, every shape, style, and size heel are trending,” Bruhn says. Everything is in: super shiny silver boots, Dr. Martens, motorcycle boots, cowboy boots, riding boots, tall leather stacked heel boots, ‘70s platform boots — you name it. “As far as investment, choose the boot that works best for your lifestyle,” she says. “No matter how much you covet those tall silver boots with the four-inch stiletto heel, will you actually get enough wear out of them to justify the $1,200 price tag? Consider what is in your closet, which boot would work with what you already have. Do you walk everywhere? Choose the boot of your dreams, but also try to be practical. If they aren’t comfortable when you try them on, they will never be comfortable, and therefore will never be worn.”
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