Despite the endless obstacles that 2022 threw at us, fashion rumbled on as it always does.
As trends ebbed and flowed, a recurring theme emerged: investment. Shopping for the long-term will carry over into the new year, as the focus on clothes and accessories that are more than just a quick thrill becomes ever more emphatic. (Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion.com, calls this approach “wardrobing.”)
As Heather Gramston, head of womenswear at Browns, notes: “2022 was without a doubt the year of sexy dressing and going out again,” a mood that led to a rise in special party pieces with timeless appeal, as well as luxury rentals.
So what can we expect in 2023? According to buyers, the fashion crowd will be split into two groups: those who embrace the sheer looks that swept the spring/summer 2023 runways, and those who take the understated route via maxi hemlines and sleek tailoring. Over on TikTok, Gen-Z will continue to fuel appetite for all things 1990s and 2000s, and the vintage market will keep growing.
Read on for the lowdown on what to expect from fashion in 2023.
Everyday wear, but elevated
It speaks volumes that this year’s most-Googled pieces—jeans and oversized shirts, according to Google’s Year In Search Report—are as unassuming as it gets. Kate Moss’s turn in jeans, a tank top and a plaid shirt at Bottega’s spring/summer 2023 show had us immediately reaching for basics (even though her “denim” was actually made from trompe l’oeil leather).
The standout everyday shoe to say yes to this year? Ballet pumps, which have been a breakout hit (see Miu Miu’s satin pairs). “Ballet flats are here to stay as our customers look for polished styles to complement their hybrid lifestyles,” says Wiggins. Fanny Moizant, co-founder of resale site Vestiaire Collective, meanwhile, anticipates fancy flats will dominate the vintage market.
According to experts, the best pieces to invest in transcend trends and will stand the test of time. “We are seeing a shift in the way our customers are buying, moving further away from trends and instead looking for luxury pieces with a democratic price point that will work as an investment for the long term,” explains Wiggins.
Fashion for everyone
Fluidity won’t manifest as stereotypical “borrowed-from-the-boys” silhouettes this year, says Sara Maggioni, head of womenswear at WGSN. “It’s about thinking beyond boxy and outsized styles and considering flexible fits and adaptive sizing instead, with clever design details, from straps and fastenings that can be regulated to fit different body sizes and shapes, to extra stretch options for smarter jerseywear,” she says. “It’s also about going back to the drawing board and looking at design considerations such as crotch, armhole and shoulder widths, strategic subtle darts for soft volume, which flatters all genders; investing in technologies to get the style right like 3D-design and scanning will also be key.”
Expanded offerings from Miu Miu and Simone Rocha—the latter officially launched menswear this season—as well as trailblazing designs from Raul Lopez of Luar and Ludovic de Saint Sernin, will keep the spotlight on fluid fashion. “Fashion seems to be on the way to getting rid of gender stereotypes,” says Margaux Warin, head of fashion and insights at Tagwalk.
Grunge, but with a sexy twist
Lace up your DMs, grunge has returned to the mainstream. The shows made way for sexier, more grown up takes on grungy staples: undone knits, sultry slips and tartan were all on the agenda. Maggioni cites “the emotional rollercoaster and chaos collectively experienced in recent times” as the force behind grunge 2.0, which is more romantic this time around. The look is gaining traction in the vintage space, too. Moizant predicts plenty more denim, utility trousers, leather, and chains.
The future is sheer…
“Less is more,” declares Tiffany Hsu, vice president of womenswear, kidswear and life fashion buying at Mytheresa. “Sexy 2.0 was full throttle [at the shows], with every conceivable iteration of micro-minis, cut outs, sheer and mesh out to play,” agrees Gramston.
Warin says that searches for cut-out and transparent looks surged by 40 and 53 per cent respectively during autumn/winter 2022, and 77 per cent of designers included transparent looks for spring/summer 2023. Skin-baring pieces cropped up in the menswear space, too—revealing fashion was up 504 per cent for spring/summer 2023 compared to spring/summer 2022.
… But modesty is in, too
A demure dresser? Don’t despair. “For 2023, I feel we will continue to see a progressive shift from overt sexiness and a move towards longer hemlines, sleek tailoring and less skin on display,” asserts Gramston.
Tailoring, in particular, will pick up after becoming one of the “most affected categories” during the pandemic, according to Maggioni. “Although working patterns are certainly more hybrid than they used to be and the casualization of career-wear continues, overall, a more put-together aesthetic is emerging as consumers seek a fresher direction,” she says.
As for hemlines, Hsu can see maxi skirts having a moment next year, while long dresses dominated the recent shows (81 per cent of designers included long dresses in their collections, reports Tagwalk).
Brace yourselves for yet more nostalgia
The obsession with the not-so-distant past isn’t going anywhere. Moizant puts it simply: “The ’90s and 2000s nostalgia will remain.” It might look a little different—“the more psychedelic end of the boho look will be important” come festival season, says Maggioni—but it’s the same mood we’ve been reacquainting ourselves with for seasons now.
The best way to buy into nostalgia is by doing it authentically. Score vintage finds from fellow hustlers on Depop, Vinted, eBay and the like, or peruse Vestiaire Collective, Hardly Ever Worn It and 1stDibs to discover special designer treasures. Anthony Barzilay Freund, editorial director and trends expert at 1stDibs, suggests looking out for John Galliano for Dior, Tom Ford for Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and Issey Miyake. On the accessories front, consider ’90s-era Chanel bags and Fendi’s beloved Baguette (which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year) the ultimate trophy pieces.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.