In 2023, the fashion industry was driven by a number of highly-influential trends and styles, spanning a vast spectrum of everything from barbiecore and balletcore to quiet luxury and Y2K running. These trends were born in all sorts of places: on runways, where many high fashion designers favored clubby design codes and coquette-inspired silhouettes; on TikTok, where content creators drew fashionable comparisons to big pop-cultural moments to create the latest and greatest “-core” trends; on celebrities, many of whom are responsible for popularizing UGG’s Ultra Mini boots and the adidas Sambas over the course of the last year, and even on the Apple Store’s shelves, where the Airpods Max headphones got their start as one of this year’s most-coveted accessories.
No matter the origin, this year’s biggest fashion trends were crucial to defining the modern-day uniform — what we’ll one day look back at and call ‘20s style. Below, Hypebeast has rounded up the buzziest of them all.
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Designers often throw big after-parties for their fashion-week shows, and this year, many of their models looked like they were heading straight to them from the runway. Dress codes had free spirits, perhaps ones still longing to make up for lost time during COVID lockdowns, and tailoring let loose.
Dion Lee, arguably the purveyor of high-end clubwear among New York City’s downtowners, revealed a flesh-baring line inspired by a reptile’s “second skin,” featuring diamond-clad harnesses, small shedding tops and distressed hosiery. Eckhaus Latta’s collections fit the bill for a Brooklyn rave, with artful mesh tops, shimmering pants and skin-showing knits; while LaQuan Smith’s designs would likely get you a pass to the front of the line at a more upscale club.
This September, Diesel quite literally hosted an eight-hour-long mega-rave for more than 7,000 people on its Milan Fashion Week runway, where an abundance of double-take-worthy garments and accessories (namely, that fiery 1DR bag in Look 64) fit right in. On the Paris Fashion Week calendar, too, Stefano Gallici made his debut at the helm of Ann Demeulemeester, with a collection that was ideal for upscale partygoers who prefer a darker tone.
Overall, it’s clear that designers wanted to have some late-night fun.
Since the top of the year, it seemed like adidas’ signature Samba silhouette was on everyone’s mood board. Whether it be the OG or Classic version across white and black hues, the shoe proliferated the fashion scene through a range of sporty, casual and elevated styles. The silhouette’s clean, yet versatile style also made it a beloved multi-seasonal offering.
As the warmer seasons began to creep in, the shoe’s perfect companion a.k.a. the soccer kit, came onto the scene in full force. Featuring a mix of vintage and current jerseys across both international and domestic teams, the soccer kit became one of the summer’s hottest looks. Even though the warm season served as its peak this year, the soccer kit has still been seen throughout the fall and winter seasons.
The trend also saw highlight moments with Wales Bonner’s adidas Samba collaboration, which is undoubtedly one of the most popular shoe crossovers of the year. Although the silver/beige was the most sought-after colorway – finding its way in campaign and fashion week street style shots – the eye-catching ponyskins editions in cheetah and black also made noise.
The Rich Moms and The Cool Dads
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In the wake of quiet luxury, the wealthiest, fashionable parents took matters into their own hands and gave birth to buzzy trends of their own: the “Rich Mom” and “Cool Dad” aesthetics.
For the affluent mothers, this style trope is all about power-dressing, taking the pared-back styles from the “stealth-wealth” wardrobe and amping them up with statement-making bags, opulent jewelry and ultra-expensive watches. The dress code, which was born on TikTok after Christina Najjar posted her viral “Rich Mom Starter Pack” videos, is for the modish matriarchs — see Gisele Bündchen’s off-duty wardrobe or Rihanna’s Louis Vuitton campaign, if you need a reference point.
The “Cool Dad,” meanwhile, emerged in response to the notoriously-predictable style choices that fathers get a bad rap for. There’s nothing wrong with the poster-child wardrobes of “dad-style” kings like Owen Wilson or Billy Baldwin in the early 2000s, but their simplistic aesthetics have certainly gone on to become the blueprint for future generations of fathers. In 2023, there’s a new wave of dads that are shifting the status quo, and a leader among them is A$AP Rocky. His recent Bottega Veneta campaign is enough proof to solidify his place in the stylish fathers club, but there’s also a case to be made for the likes of Offset, who has long flexed his fashion mastery, or dads like David Beckham, who’ve upped the ante for paternal classiness. Dads can have style, after all.
Jil Sander/Vogue Runway
Spurred by the latest season of HBO’s Succession, quiet luxury became one of the most popular and widely discussed trends of the year. Fitting an “old-money” or “stealth wealth” aesthetic, quiet luxury centers on clean designs void of logos and graphic stylings – emphasizing classic pieces and high-quality materials.
Quiet luxury has always existed, but its meteoric rise this year in a contemporary lens saw people favoring better basics over expensive statement pieces – shifting the parameters of cool. Even though quiet luxury isn’t new, the trend, coined by Gen Z, just marks its current iteration as its style has met a new audience of people.
Brands that fall under the quiet luxury trend are names like Loro Piana, The Row, Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Brunello Cucinelli, Hermès, Jil Sander and Max Mara. Even though the trend lens into expensive luxury brands as a lowkey exhibition of wealth, quiet luxury isn’t limited to those brands as it centers minimalist style codes at its core. So toss in a name like Uniqlo, COS or even J. Crew and the look of quiet luxury is still very achievable.
We’d be remiss to make a list of the year’s top trends and not mention barbiecore — the very-pink, doll-like style lexicon inspired by the movie-of-the-summer, Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
The trend, at its core, is all about being feminine and embracing womanhood, just like the movie’s plot. But from a style perspective, it’s a whole lot of vibrant cotton-candy hues, Dreamhouse-inspired textures and an eye for luxury. For the film’s Los Angeles and European premieres, Robbie emerged as a real-life Barbie in custom, high-fashion attire, from designers including Schiaparelli and Vivienne Westwood, referencing some of Mattel’s most iconic dolls. The actress’ literal interpretations of the dolls led to a number of more realistic takes on the trend, with campy designs like Prada’s doll-leg Mary Jane boots.
The Barbie film also bred an entirely new style sector for men, inspired by Gosling’s Ken and his Ken-ergy. In Barbie’s world, Ken is an accessory. She embarks on a journey of self-discovery; he comes along for the ride, seated shotgun in her hot-pink convertible. She’s everything, he’s just Ken. On the fashion front, Ken-ergy embraces a sense of “new masculinity,” while still holding onto the root of menswear. But really, it’s less about the clothing items themselves and more about the motive behind wearing them — which is, in Ken’s small brain, to “be a 10.” Ken-ergy, in menswear, is all about idealism.
Yes, tank tops are a spring and summer staple every year because of the weather. But, this year saw an abundance of tank tops that transcended your everyday undershirt as luxury brands hopped into the mix. One of the most popular luxury tanks of this year was LOEWE’s Anagram embroidered tank top, which was commonly spotted in white despite its black and turquoise counterparts.
Right on its heels was the Prada tank with its signature triangle plaque alongside Diesel’s T-Anky-D top with an eye-catching red “D” logo. Aside from the onslaught of luxury tanks, the typical Hanes or Fruit of the Loom piece was still rocked in full force – making for a frenzy of white tanks this season.
Ballet core/Sandy Liang
Many would say that 2023 was the year of the bow, and they’re not wrong. The neatly-tied and looped ribbon is a product of the ever-so-popular TikTok trend balletcore, a hyper-feminine style archetype that takes cues from ballet dancers’ closets — tulle skirts, soft satin tops, bodysuits, leggings and flats — as well as the fanciful universes that surround their delicate craft.
Fortunately, you don’t actually have to know how to perform a pirouette to participate in the trend; but you might need to make a stop at Sandy Liang’s storefront in NYC’s Lower East Side to get in on the fun. Liang, who Hypebeast named the best womenswear designer of 2023, has coined the dance-classic aesthetic over the course of the last year, becoming one of the most sought-after “balletcore” designers thanks to her Mary Jane Ballet Pointe flats, her bow-tied Baggu collaborations, dainty tights and ballerina black finishes.
There’s a sizable roster of designers who adhere just as much to this look: among them, Christian Siriano is known to make a grand statement on his runways with billowing tulle gowns, and Simone Rocha’s graceful dresses, pearly decorations and dance-inspired footwear are distinctly balletcore. In fact, some of the pieces look so realistic, they might just inspire you to sign for a barre class.
Y2K Running Sneakers
With the resurgence of Y2K style in recent years, one of the crown jewels from it is retro running sneakers. Without a doubt, they’re here to stay. Over the past couple of years, there has been a growing affinity for the early 2000s sneaker silhouettes, which is also sometimes dubbed a “dad shoe.” But the mesh creations have been recast in the modern day, while also keeping their core 2000s aesthetics.
Typically not used for running, the shoes have become an everyday footwear mainstay across streetwear and classic styles. You may see them paired with a quintessential baggy streetwear fit, an athleisure look or a casual take on quiet luxury for a mix of styles. The shoes have been cast in contemporary culture with updated details like remixed hues, new overlays, revamped soles and heightened comfort.
Across the trend, core standouts are shoes like the Asics Gel Kayano 14, New Balance 1906R, Nike Zoom Vomero 5 and Asics Gel Nimbus 9. Although Asics and New Balance dominate the trend, brands like Saucony and Brooks have also been key players.
UGG Classic Ultra Mini
In 2023, UGGs were cool again. Bella Hadid first reinvigorated the brand last year, after stepping out in New York City for a slice of pizza, wearing a pair of Classic Ultra Mini Platforms. Those paparazzi images were game-changing for the Australian footwear label, pushing the mini silhouette into the fore of its most-popular products and ultimately leading to a slew of collaborations that would define the 45-year-old brand’s last year.
Following Hadid’s viral images, Lyst reported that UGG’s Classic Ultra Mini Platforms earned a 152% increase in searches and promptly sold out. The silhouette became increasingly more difficult to find, and it was even selling for double its retail price via resellers. Soon after, the likes of Emily Ratajkowski and Gigi Hadid were sporting the highly-coveted shoe just as much, and at the turn of 2023, it was game over for anyone trying to cop a pair of fashion’s hottest shoe.
Capitalizing on the Ultra Mini movement, UGG enlisted a series of collaborators to create new spins on the signature shoe — and on many of its neighboring silhouettes. Among them, Palace, Opening Ceremony, Telfar, Madhappy and Feng Chen Wang let their distinct codes decorate the plush platforms, pushing the UGG brand into all new consumer markets and showcasing just how versatile its popular shoe could be.
Airpods Max as Fashion
Although they have been out for a few years now, this year served as a key moment for Apple Airpods Max headphones crossing over as a key fashion accessory. At its core, the device is still a high-selling piece of noise-cancelling audio equipment. However, fashion aficionados across the world (especially in streetwear) have taken the headphones into a new lane.
Because of their sleek look and apparent status symbol as an Apple product, the Airpods Max has become an unexpected standout fashion piece. Whether worn on the head while actively listening to music, around the neck or tiled upwards (almost resembling a head warmer) the piece has doubled as streetwear’s favorite new companion.
But to complement Apple’s space gray, pink, green, silver and sky blue colorways, several designers have crafted unique Airpods Max covers. To increase the headphones’ accessory-oriented aspect, the creations have spanned simple graphic designs to full-out 3D-printed cases/decals.
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