Ask any fashion lover what role texture plays when crafting the perfect outfit and they’ll tell you — and probably emphatically — a big one. Just think about how easily something like your choice of material can, in an instant, entirely shape the lasting impression of a look. Are you aiming for a sultry effect? Lean on velvet or satin. Going for earthy vibes? Try macramé or linen. Need to make a splashy entrance at your next party? Reach for bow embellishments or chainmail! But if you really want to come across as someone with serious style know-how, we suggest dabbling in the fashion world’s latest obsession: netted fabric.
First spotted on the Spring/Summer 2022 runways and now trickling into current collections, the woven effect feels similar to crochet, but more closely resembles a fisherman’s net (think delicate fishnet or macramé). It offers minimal coverage but provides countless layering opportunities. One example of this was in Nina Ricci’s collection for the season. The house’s former designer duo Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter (the pair parted ways with the company in early 2022) drew inspiration from their affinity for diving culture and introduced bright green fishnet pieces, including a midi skirt that would look particularly dynamic layered over another skirt of the same hemline. Also consider Ganni: The cult-favorite brand debuted a fishnet skirt, dress, and crop top with intricate beading subtly stitched into the design. And, of course, everyone is still talking about the netted creation seen on Chloé’s runway — a technicolor macramé overlay dress crafted from deadstock fabrics that will undoubtedly be the It dress of the season (if you can stomach the $13,000-plus price tag, that is).
Off the catwalk, brands like New Zealand-based Wynn Hamlyn are leading the charge with these netted textures. “The design process is really about sourcing the rope to use for the macramé pieces,” Brand Manager Lana Morrison tells TZR. “Our pieces are all traditionally hand-knotted.” The distinction between crochet and macramé is relatively straightforward, but easy to mix up. Crochet knit is created with two needles while macramé is achieved entirely by hand. And though the former is more typically used for clothing, when you spot a macramé top or dress, it feels like a rare and lucky find.
“For me, the net texture is truly versatile and classic, but doesn’t necessarily get its flowers,” Petit Kouraj founder and designer Nasrin Jean-Baptiste tells TZR. She uses different techniques for her line of handmade net bags. “Some styles are hand-tied using macramé techniques and others are made with the aid of machines,” she explains. “Individual strains of fringe are then tied and applied to each corner of the net following a particular pattern that gives the fringe a subtle gradient effect.”
Jean-Baptiste developed her signature technique of applying fringe to net bags during trips to Haiti when she was working on the concept for her brand. “I spent a week in-house at the workshop where I collaborated with the artisans to create a pattern for each style that could be repeated and scaled,” she says. “It was a great creative experience to take the bud of an idea to the town where my parents grew up and work with them to create a product that is now produced in Haiti and sold globally.”
Jean-Baptiste cites the transparency and fluidity of netting as two reasons she’s drawn to the texture. “Whether that be on the body or holding a personal item, it takes the shape of whatever it contains and reveals all unapologetically,” she says. “If net were a friend, her inherent character would be playful and fun yet no-nonsense, which is why I think it makes a perfect summer look.”
Ahead, novel ideas for where to find the style — and how to style it this season.
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The High-Impact Dress
“We love seeing our pieces worn over dresses, especially somewhere like a summer evening soireé,” Morrison says. If you’re lucky enough to bring home a head-to-toe netted dress, rest assured you’ll never again have a Friday night with nothing to wear. Let the bold texture do the talking by layering your net dress with a slip underneath. From there all you need is a simple pair of sandals and the compliments will come rolling in.
The Bold Bag
“The thing about macramé is that it makes for the most versatile outfit,” Morrison explains. Whether it’s on a dress or top — or something on the subtler side like a woven bag à la Tamu Mcpherson — the style translates across different categories. A couple of standouts of the season include Nanushka’s vegan leather macramé bag and, of course, Jean-Baptiste’s handcrafted net and fringe bags that come in a slew of exhilarating colors.
The Party Top
It’s not hard to see why netted pieces feel innately tied to parties: They’re the ultimate conversation-starters. And whether you’re slipping into Wynn Hamlyn’s halter top for the season or putting Ganni’s crop top over a crisp poplin shirt, there are countless ways to style this texture as the centerpiece of a going out ensemble. “We have even seen these net pieces being worn as wedding outfits, which is so lovely,” Morrison adds.
The Peekaboo Skirt
One of our favorite ways to style netting? Opt for statement skirt — like the slinky midi pictured above — worn with a blazer or even simple tee. There’s something about the contrast between a minimal, sleek top and a statement skirt that feels well-balanced and inexplicably cool. And once the weather warms up, the silhouette doubles as a swimwear cover-up on vacation. Bonus: It barely takes up space in your suitcase.
The Statement Top
Invest in a great statement top and you invest in wardrobe options. If your closet’s been lacking that piece with a certain sort of oomph, now is the perfect time to invest in a netted piece. A macramé or fishnet top looks particularly cool when worn only with a bralette layered underneath and paired with something like roomy trousers to balance out the bare skin.
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