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Next in Fashion: 6 Things to look forward to in 2022

Fashion forecast

Text: Kelly Lim

Image: Instagram via @metabirkins,
@institute_digital_fashion

Image: Roblox

From the metaverse to brand debuts and emerging names to watch, what's next in fashion for the year ahead?

It's 2022 and the new variants of the Covid-19 virus has plunged the world into collective uncertainty, with a slew of fashion week cancellations taking place in the last week including Armani as the first to slash its January plans alongside London Men's Fashion Week. But whether events end up being IRL, online or somewhere in between, let's look on the bright side because there's still plenty to look forward to. 

Read on to find out what's next in fashion for the year ahead: 

Fashion in the metaverse

MetaBirkins, AI influencers, digital runways and URL clothes––if 2021 was the year fashion entered the metaverse, 2022 will be one of immersion. Following Facebook's rebrand as 'Meta' in October, the digital fashion opportunity only continues to grow, with both luxury brands and emerging designers blending the real with the unreal from releasing NFTs to commemorate the launch of a new product, to creating designer wardrobes for online avatars.

Demna spent much of last year cementing Balenciaga's position as a pioneer in the metaverse, first with a limited-edition physical/digital Fortnite collaboration before partnering with parent company Epic Games to create a video game for its AW21 show dubbed 'Afterworld'. Since then, social networking platform IMVU staged their own digital runway show with emerging brands like Collina Strada and Mowalola showcasing their designs via the new medium, while luxury houses like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, JW Anderson and more jumped onto the NFTs bandwagon. And who can forget the 100 Birkin NFTs created by artist Mason Rothchild that stirred up a storm of issues surrounding authenticity, energy consumption and user rights near the end of the year?

The digital fashion revolution is well and truly here, and 2021 was only the beginning. According to The Fashion Law, a virtual fashion week is set to take place in the metaverse this March. Held by metaverse platform Decentraland, the four-day bonanza of "catwalk shows and showcases, popups and after parties" will be taking place in collaboration with Polygon blockchain-hosted luxury marketplace UNXD for viewers to check out new collections and purchase virtual garments and accessories. 

More recently, Diesel’s parent company OTB has also announced the launch of Brave Virtual Xperience, a new business unit dedicated to developing products for the metaverse. Despite the uncertainties of our current age, one thing's for sure: the unreal is only going to become more real here on out. 

READ: How tech couture house Auroboros is paving the way for digital fashion

Brand debuts and designer shakeups

The first half of this year promises a myriad of intriguing debuts, from Phoebe Philo's highly-anticipated comeback to new chapters at brands like Bottega Veneta, Kenzo, Emilio Pucci and more. Camille Miceli, who was accessories creative director at Louis Vuitton, is set to present her first designs at Emilio Pucci for spring 2022, while Kenzo, another LVMH-managed brand, will introduce their first collection for women and men during Paris Fashion Week under Bape founder Nigo.

Then, of course there's also Matthieu Blazy's appointment at Bottega Veneta following Daniel Lee's surprise exit last November. Like Lee, Blazy has worked in the studio of Celine under then-creative director Phoebe Philo, as well as Raf Simons as a design director at Calvin Klein 205W39NYC––suffice to say, all eyes will be on him when he makes his Bottega debut on February 26. 

Collaborations: the sky is the limit 

2021 was a year of nonstop fashion collaborations on top of collaborations. We had Fendace, Balenciaga's team-up with The Simpsons, Yeezy Gap, Supreme's unexpected partnership with Tiffany & Co., and even pairings across fields and in the local scene by way of Lilit x Woofiziwoo. If the many partnerships proved anything, it was that the high-low hype remains and that the idea of shared ideologies and communal design will only continue to grow with time. Collabs to look out for in the first quarter of the year? Riccardo Tisci's Burberry pre-fall collab with model Lea T, Barbie x Balmain (complete with NFTs and a whole collection for grown-ups to wear), Y/Project and Diesel's artistic director Glen Martens' guest designer gig at Jean Paul Gaultier Couture and 'Jentle Garden', Gentle Monster's highly-anticipated second collaboration with Blackpink's Jennie

READ: Style ID: Blackpink's Jennie and her sought-after bag collection

Sustainability: where do we go from here?

Sustainability in fashion has been around in conversation for years but 2021 affirmed its necessity and relevance to the younger generation. With a new year comes a new start, and in 2022 the concept of longer-lasting, minimalist capsule wardrobe will continue to be popular as we rethink our relationship with our clothes. In line with this mindset are trends of thrifting and resale, upcycling and DIY, and shopping locally as the pandemic has brought about a more community-driven agenda alongside mindful, circular thinking. On an industry scale, the use of biodegradable materials continues to be on the rise in addition to digital innovations, as luxury brands and designers invest and explore eco-friendly alternatives such as vegan leather, rose petal silk, cactus and more. 

READ: The innovative fabrics reshaping fashion’s future: Human sweat, spider silk and jelly

What's in and what's out?

From normcore to regencycore, the onset of TikTok gave rise to an endless amount of aesthetic subgenres from the nooks and crannies of the internet and social media that have also become one of the most-talked about topics in fashion. And according to the first edition of Instagram's trend report, maximalist fashion will take over 2022 as members of Gen-Z are making bold fashion moves with their style choices and using fashion as an outlet for optimism and self-expression. Alt-fashion cultures like Dark Academia (think Blair Waldorf in the fall), Goblincore (AKA the feral side of fairytales) and nostalgic wear are expected to reach an all-time high as people spend more time together outdoors and IRL.

2021 was also the year Y2K returned in full force. And while sky-high platforms and low-rise jeans will continue to lead the charge into this season, fashion is predicted to level up into the next stage of the later aughts style zeitgeist. Remember the era of grungy nonchalance best epitomised by the Olsen twins, Sky Ferreira and Alexa Chung during our early Tumblr days? Yup, Indie Sleaze is the darker, risqué aesthetic of the 2000s is making a comeback––think carefree maximalism at its peak infused with pre-IG flash photography on "outdated" technology, hipsters, wired headphones, smudged makeup and plenty of band tees, Doc Martens and pleated tennis skirts. The modern-day icons of this era? Olivia Rodrigo, Bella Hadid and Machine Gun Kelly, duh. 

READ: Y2K fashion is in trend thanks to TikTok—here's how to dress like it's the year 2000 when it's actually 2021

Names to watch

The devil works hard but fashion works harder. Despite the pressure put on by the pandemic, a legion of emerging designers made their mark last year via impactful collections created with meaning. With their elegant cut-outs, corseted blazers and very-sheer dresses, brands like Nensi Dojaka, Dion Lee and Knwls re-established a new definition of sexy for the generations to come. Elsewhere, buzzy brands like Marshall Columbia, Chet Lo and Auné Collections dominated social media, while the likes of Peter Do, Supriya Lele, Samuel Gui Yang, ShuShu/Tong and Miss Sohee cemented an uprising of formidable Asian talent. Stay tuned as a guide of all the up-and-coming brands to keep an eye is on the way.


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