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  • Jonathan Walford

2022 - A Fashion Year in Review

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

In the race for post-pandemic recovery, one thing has become very clear - Baby Boomers no longer run the world. They may still own the lion’s share, but they don’t cater to their own generation anymore. The world now follows a Millennial-Zoomer zeitgeist.


Responsible companies now measure their environmental, social and governance (E.S.G.) policies by how diverse, accessible and sustainable they are. Words like vegan, organic, and recycled are just greenwashing buzz words if they aren’t backed up by inclusive business practices and the regeneration of sustainable materials.



Y2K strikes again


Fashion was historically the best example of trickle-down economics, until it became less about looking rich and more about looking cool. The last original fashion was the ultimate in cool - punk, but since then there really hasn’t been any new ideas in fashion, only revivals of past styles, mixed and matched in new ways. 2022’s big revival was Y2K, with its bare midriffs, chunky sole sandals, hair clips, tartan skirts, and low-rise jeans. Designers are more like hyper-stylists these days and since foreign cultures are not considered appropriate inspirations for dress anymore, the aesthetics of established looks are up for grabs: cowboy, camouflage, bohemian, preppy… And those trends are now being defined as concurrent styles: Normcore, Cottagecore, Regencycore, Fairycore, Gorpcore, Barbiecore, Dark Academia, and Coastal Grandma, to name a few. Like the title of one of this year’s best films, fashion in 2022 is Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.


Dark Academia (camel, oxfords, tartans, tweeds, corduroy, think Ivy league and Love Story); Barbiecore (pink, tight, girlish, sexy, - the reference is obvious); Cottagecore (homespun, rural, old-fashioned, long); Gorpcore (hiking, outdoorsy-wear named after the 'good old peanuts and raisens' hiking snack); and Cottage Grandma (think Martha Stewart or Diane Keaton wearing Ralph Lauren in the Hamptons...)


We almost got through the year without a scandal until Balenciaga’s fall campaign showed children with teddy bears dressed in leather harnesses. The fallout has been spectacular, with Balenciaga even suing the creators of their campaign – taking no responsibility for their approval before launch. It’s not a good idea, but is it really the big issue that it’s being made out to be? The sexual reference will go over a child’s head like a double entendre from a Shrek movie (… do you think he’s compensating for something?) We seem to be entering an era of Victorian prudishness when putting fig leaves on classical sculptures was a thing. This time it’s being spearheaded by corporations who threaten to de-monetize You-tube channels that show male mannequin nipples (I'm not kidding). After the ‘Wild West’ world of the internet over the past two decades, when innocent searches for ‘Canadian beavers’ turned up graphic results that would make a porn star blush, it seems to be a bit of an over-correction.



The Balenciaga booboo


The Balenciaga brouhaha will end up on the ‘oops’ shelf along with all those other past goofs like Gucci's blackface turtleneck, the Benetton Pope and Imam kiss, that ‘nothing’ that got between Brooke Shields and her Calvins, and the rest of the Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel, American Apparel, Sisley etc. ads that got into trouble for objectification, sexual violence, drugs, blasphemy, racism, nudity, etc.





To end off the year, we have to note the passing of four particularly influential figures in the world of fashion: American fashion writer and stylist Andre Leon Talley, French designer Thierry Mugler, Japanese designer Issey Miyake, and English designer Vivienne Westwood.





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