2022 Fashion Predictions
This is the year of Anna: The Biography, Jeff Bezos wearing tacky stuff, and more!
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Well here we are in post-holiday January, always one of the most painful work months of the year, particularly if you, like me, live somewhere cold, hate winter, and are out of Christmas cookies. (In case you were wondering: no, Cindy Crawford has neither adopted me nor hired me as her house sitter — yet.) Take a load off and read my fashion predictions for 2022.
A big new biography about Anna Wintour coming out May 3 — Anna: The Biography — will have everyone talking. I know all about it because… I wrote it! It’s the product of three years of research and interviews with more than 250 sources. I will say more about the book as publication date approaches. But pre-orders are one of the best ways to support books and authors so please don’t hesitate to get your copy before it’s out.
Finally, a non-”intimate” Met Gala will titillate the red carpet-hungry masses. Picture a DJ dropping beats for Cabo spring breakers, only Anna Wintour is at the decks and you and I and all of our friends are jumping up and down spilling vodka sodas all over the place. Recall that the September 2021 Met Gala had been billed as “a smaller, more intimate affair than in years past.” It celebrated the opening of the Costume Institute’s In America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibit. The second part of that exhibit, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, is the impetus for the May 2022 gala, which hopefully won’t be impeded by the pandemic. The number of attendees for the September party was roughly a third smaller than usual, but nothing about that gala exactly said “modest little fashion party that may as well not even be happening.”
The centerpiece upon entry to that party was a giant, realistic oak tree fabricated from “recycled materials,” per Vogue.com, suggesting someone/many many interns painstakingly attached each of those leaves. Unclear if when smashed with a baseball bat plant-based candy spilled forth.
Then there was the red carpet itself, which included Rihanna in Balenciaga couture, Kim Kardashian in that unforgettable black Balenciaga T-shirt body stocking, AOC’s “tax the rich” gown by Aurora James, and Jennifer Lopez in a brown Western Ralph Lauren evening look that I can only describe as “if J Lo wore a hunting lodge.” If that’s the pared down gathering, I can’t wait to see what Anna drops this May. I’m picturing J Lo dressed up as an iconic American hotel chain, say Marriott.
TikTok will usurp Instagram as fashion’s dominant social network. The data alone is troubling for Instagram: 63 percent of American Gen Zs aged 12 to 17 used TikTok weekly in 2021 compared to 57 percent for Instagram, according to Forrester. That’s a four point decline for Instagram from 2020. If the numbers weren’t bad enough, there’s the feeling fashion people have on Instagram — like their engagement is sloshing around in a sewer from which it can never be retrieved. This is not as big of a thing on TikTok, where anyone’s videos can surface and go viral, filling the gaping void we all have inside of us that can only be filled by social media validation.
But what TikTok dominance would mean for the industry is — and I can’t believe I’m using this word about TikTok — profound. The influencers who came up on Instagram but don’t have the same clout on TikTok will lose power. New TikTok influencers will take their places in the general fore of things. Brands will have to create events for TikTok, which might mean the usual tiny lobster rolls and photo op gimmicks like obnoxious unicorn pool floats, but will hopefully mean something totally different, like full-size lobster rolls and dance challenges. At the very least it ought to mean the rise of additional fashion vigilantes who, blessedly, give zero fucks about kissing brand ass.
Periwinkle is going to be a thing, and this one I’m not just making up. Color authority Pantone declares a color of the year every year and for 2022, the lucky winner is “Very Peri,” which is a light purple-ish blue. “Rekindling gratitude for some of the qualities that blue represents complemented by a new perspective that resonates today, PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri places the future ahead in a new light,” says Pantone.com.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that color authorities such as Pantone very much are just making this up. Women’s Wear Daily has a whole list of other colors of the year, decreed so by various corporations, including “Emerald Green” (Etsy), “Orchid Flower” (WGSN), and “Daffodil” (also Pantone, but for spring). My read on this is, picture a Gen Z like Dua Lipa wearing lots of bright Gen Z colors and that’s your 2022 color forecast. Translation: there will be colors, generally.
Skinny jeans are as over as the third season of Succession. I just spent ten days in my hometown of Austin, Texas, and the de facto busy young mom uniform was a cropped wide-legged jean with white sneakers and any flavor of white top (tight, billowy, what have you). If skinnies aren’t thriving there I don’t know where they would be aside from some old Facebook photos that you may have made a New Year’s resolution to make private.
If you want to know what else will be trending clothing-wise, I see no reason to look anywhere other than TikTok. Nylon assembled a list of “7 Aesthetic Predictions for 2022, According to TikTok’s Trend Forecasters,” including things like “avant apocalypse,” which is apparently Dune-ish stuff in the vein of Rick Owens and Martin Margiela with lots of cutouts and straps and asymmetry. Picture wearing a tight yarn spiderweb over like earth-tone bootcut pants and a shirt with extra long sleeves, that sort of thing.
Fashion parties and shows will return to their pre-pandemic state but everyone will be in denial about why we’re going back to the old way. In response to the pandemic, when fashion temporarily decided everything was “too fast” and “unsustainable,” some top brands decided to start showing whenever they felt like it instead of on the same long-established schedule as everyone else. When Gucci dramatically left the fashion calendar in 2020, they were accused of “send[ing] shockwaves through the luxury fashion industry.” Gucci designer Alessandro Michele said at the time, “I don’t know if we need these words. Cruise, pre-fall are really antique terms, emptied of their significance… These scheduled appointments were not very stimulating in terms of creativity.” But then late last year, Gucci decided it would rejoin the creativity-stifling Milan calendar in February.
I’m sure there was pressure for brands to go back to the old schedule because the people who travel to shows would rather see them all at once than making special trips throughout the year, which is in fact less sustainable than the old way. What will be missing when things go back to the way they were is any soul-searching about why. And I believe it will be simply because there’s something about the consumption cycle that demands it and because fashion people really just like going to glamorous events together and posting to social media about them. Which is fine? This isn’t a think tank, it’s fashion, and frankly that’s what it’s for.
Bullshit “sustainability” claims will continue in earnest, though they should soon face harsher regulation in the U.S. It seems no collection can launch these days without an accompanying doctoral thesis about where the fabric fibers came from and how they are “certified” to be “organic” or “sustainable” or “oxygen-producing” or “ethical” or “from a sheep who stays fabulous-feeling with twice-weekly spa visits and massages,” bla bla. But as fashion sustainability expert Maxine Bédat previously told me, “The word ‘sustainable’ itself is problematic because the fashion industry is not growing trees.” (Meanwhile little is said about the human labor — often poor people of color — required to make these clothes, and if human life is not “sustainable,” nothing is.) However, this year the Federal Trade Commission is due to revise its Green Guides which “are designed to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that mislead consumers.” This is the first update since 2012, a full decade ago. Do you remember what was popular in 2012? Wedge sneakers.
Jeff Bezos will continue revealing himself to be the tasteless rich person that he is. After those New Year’s party pix there’s no doubt in my mind that one, that is far from the only tight printed shirt he enjoys wearing, and two, that he is basically the “I wish I was the cast member”-type husband that shows up on Real Housewives from time to time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see: Simon van Kempen, New York, seasons one through four. Tell me you *can’t* picture an “I Am Jeff” version of this:
Victoria’s Secret is going to get away with one of the most disingenuous-seeming rebrands of all time. A recent CNBC article tells us the company’s shares rose after it announced a share buyback program and strong holiday sales. A retail finance expert tells me the share buyback thing is “generally a good sign” for a company, suggesting “either the company has cash on hand to return to investors or management believes the stock is undervalued.” If woke-washing works fiscally speaking, the real question is, which mall brand gets to go next? Abercrombie? BCBG Build-A-Bear Workshop? At the very least, I’m sure Fendi will be up for collaboration with any of the above.
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