What Sold in 2022: The Year of Valentino Pink, Rick Owens, Tote Bags, the ’90s, and Barely There Dressing

What Sold in 2022: The Year of Valentino Pink, Rick Owens, Tote Bags, the ’90s, and Barely There Dressing

Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com, Courtesy of Valentino, Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com

Look 11 from the Valentino, fall 2022 ready-to-wear show. Courtesy of Valentino

People dressed up like it was 1999

What Sold in 2022? Well, if the verdicts of the following six retailers from around the world are anything to go by, you likely went out, a lot, you dressed up, you got a leg up (heels are on the rise, again) and you time-warped back to the ’90s, complete with Gaultier, Mugler, Blumarine, vintage Gucci, and Diesel; Glenn Martens’s reimagining of the playfully poppish Italian jeans label has ticked the boxes for an awful lot of you.

And how else did the last twelve months play out? It was a year for being in the [hot] pink, courtesy of Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino; going head to toe in Diesel denim; slouching on the oversized, relaxed, and androgyne tailoring from newer names like The Frankie Shop, and investing in the likes of Dior (Maria Grazia Chiuri can do no wrong, it seems) or splurging on Rick Owens (like MGC at Dior, another powerhouse), or falling for the big shouldered vibe courtesy of Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent (ditto). In other words: It’s a world where going all-out is as considered and styled as the moments spent lying low. It’s drama and casual in equal and impactful measure.

One other takeaway about what sold in 2022: The impact of social media has had everyone pushing the envelope as much and as often as swiping up or sideways. What that means is that dressing is getting barer, tinier, sheerer—allied to the power of feeling good in your own body. No wonder Skims had a stellar year. The socialsphere is also making us crazy for what we’ve long known and are rediscovering, such as the Birkenstock Boston clog. A bit like that old friend that you suddenly see in a whole new light, saying to yourself, ‘Wait, why aren’t we dating?!’

Tiffany Hsu, Fashion Buying Director, MyTheresa

This year, we had a capsule from Mugler, and that did really well, as did Jean Paul Gaultier; both were pretty intense in terms of the styling. It made us think, OK, wow, there is an appetite from our customers for extravagant, sexy, and avant-garde fashion. For that reason, we also did well with the Loewe runway pieces, including the flower heels, the illustration dresses, and the nail polish heels, all the surrealistic moments, as well as runway looks from Rick Owens.

Event dressing took off from the very beginning of 2022—the post-lockdown effect, going out to events, parties, weddings. Everything and anything in pink by Pierpaolo [Piccioli] at Valentino sold out—even the expensive items, like the look that was worn by Kristen McMenamy. High summer we always have our business shifting into sexier looks—less is less is more!—but hemlines have gotten shorter, necklines are lower…there’s an appetite for those even in the luxury market. It’s not just happening with contemporary brands.

Customers are definitely looking for something new, and aside from during the sales, when people are shopping markdown, the appetite for that newness is constant. Our fashion customers are definitely influenced by social media, like the Bottega Veneta gold drop earrings which were worn by Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, and Elsa Hosk; we saw an instant reaction when they wore them. Or Dua Lipa wearing the Mugler mesh leggings on her tour: we saw an uptick in sales. Or Kim Kardashian wearing archival Gaultier….

There’s been a lot of interest in ‘blast from the past’ brands. There’s a definite appetite for those. Younger customers are hankering for things from the ’80s and the ’90s. We picked up Vivienne Westwood, starting with the evening and are now also carrying the daywear. Her ready-to-wear is so relevant to today and to a younger generation, and her eveningwear, and her corsetry, is exceptional.

We’ve done well with classic coats, like those in cashmere from The Row. Outerwear from Saint Laurent is strong, especially when it comes with those big shoulders: You’re covered up, but still making a statement. Saint Laurent has been one of my favorite collections of the last few seasons.

[In terms of accessories] we’ve sold a lot of logo belts, particularly Saint Laurent, and the YSL Icare tote, especially when it was worn by Hailey Bieber or Zoe Kravitz: that bag was on everyone’s wish list. The tote bag trend has definitely come back; The Row’s Margaux, with a $4K price tag, has been a bestseller for us. For so long, the tiny bags were all that anyone wanted, but now it is totes, or cross body bags, like the YSL Jamie.

Bosse Myhr, Director Mens and Womenswear, Selfridges

Going out is definitely back—with a bang. There have been some names we couldn’t keep in stock: Nensi Dojaka; David Koma (he’s been around for a while, but there’s a lot of renewed interest in him); and, Mugler—Casey [Cadwallader, the designer] has really brought sexy back to Selfridges. And, Alaia from Pieter Mulier was one of those labels of the moment that we could have sold two and three times over. We definitely have a following for a sexy dress—and the dress has been the hit of the year.

That doesn’t mean to say we’re not selling loungewear, like God’s True Cashmere, a unisex LA brand [co-owned by Brad Pitt]. One label that has taken off is Casablanca; we started with it in men’s, and then women started buying it too. That’s maybe surprising to some, but not to us: We could see that it was resonating with women as well; the super happy vibe encapsulated the mood of women wanting to enjoy life, something that has generally come back to womenswear. The mood of the year might have been serious, but people wanted joyful clothes.

Gucci and its Adidas collaboration was super successful; it was on the runway quite a bit, but there were also a lot of great things in the showroom. With Louis Vuitton’s increasing amount of drops, being on top of the trends, they’ve not slept through [the demand for happier fashion].

Investment bags from Vuitton and Hermès are as desirable as they ever were, and other brands also put a lot of creativity into their accessories: anything pink from Valentino resonated with our customers, and Jacquemus: he gives you a full look, and his success has been driven by his accessories—the Bambino, and the Bisou, which will be his bag of the future.

Skims has become one of our key brands; the customer engagement with it is on a whole other level. It has a real clear message that’s super inclusive, and our customers love that. Kim Kardashian talks to a whole host of people. And it was a good year for swimwear—we have some beaches in the UK [laughs]. Hunza G, which is one size fits all, and has a whole ecological message behind it too, was big. The ’90s vibe sold really well, especially with that Gen Z customer who is trying it for the first time. Gaultier, with all its collaborations—the ‘naked’ dress with Y/Project went viral, and one thing that worked really well has been proper designer vintage; we had 1990s Tom Ford for Gucci, and it sold out.

Bridget Veals, General Manager Womenswear, Footwear & Accessories, David Jones

Our woman has stopped walking in her leisure wear and she has now been out so much! The pent-up demand for dressing up has been phenomenal. We’d thought that maybe because of the pandemic and the lockdowns, there were things she’d bought before COVID and hadn’t had a chance to wear, and would bring them out now. That wasn’t the case; we saw the complete opposite. We’re fortunate because we have the weather on our side [in Australia]: socially, Melbourne is very restaurant based, while Sydney has the harborside; which location you’re going to, as much as the place you’re going to, will really determine what you decide to wear.

Forty five percent of our sales were in dresses—from Zimmermann, Alemais, Camilla and Marc. Our customers love color, print—they’re bold in their choices. And we were shocked how quickly they’ve gone back to heels—10cm and more—from Aquazzura, Rene Caovilla, Mach & Mach. (We can sell sandals all year round.) And crystal bags, like those from Benedetta Bruzziches—though we’ve also sold tote bags really well, as we shifted to going back to work. Sexy dressing is back. We’ve gone through slinky and cut-out and midriff—such as Dion Lee—and now it’s also all sheer and lacy. We picked up Nensi Dojaka, and that has done really well.

Dior has been the hottest label for us. Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s shows are so feminine and beautiful, it can be cool or casual, and what she does is beautifully made. She really designs for women. Her accessories have also been phenomenal: You still want her tote over everyone else’s tote. It is a powerhouse brand here. Dior can do no wrong.

The oversized tailoring from The Frankie Shop…the label just owns it. We went to it in the Marais in Paris three years ago and it was tiny; now it spans across the street. Four of us went in on our last trip and we all came out with something. The label is easy to shop—it makes everything effortless. Alemais has also become one of the biggest brands for us: she’s a good person, a gorgeous soul; the response to the handcrafted feel, working with communities, using deadstock fabrics—it has been huge. Other Australian brands: Matteau, Scanlan Theodore, Carla Zampatti, and Beare Park, have all been fantastic.

Joseph Tang, Fashion Director, Holt Renfrew

There were obviously key brands (Gucci, Prada, Dior, Chanel) and looks that drove sales, but what we saw were customers coming in for things for a more fulsome lifestyle. [In Canada] we had severe COVID restrictions for the first part of the year, and as we opened up and there were more social gatherings, even coming to our stores became part of the socializing, plus travel restrictions were lifted; the idea of dressing for different occasions became so important. People wanted Zimmermann, Loewe Paula’s Ibiza, the Prada crochet bags—and not just those people who were snowbirds, heading southwards.

All of the anniversaries and birthday celebrations that had been postponed; those drove sales of dresses, particularly from Oscar de la Renta. And the SATC reboot, And Just Like That, inspired customers to get dressed up again. Film and entertainment helped people discover brands they hadn’t perhaps heard of before.

Women were redefining their work wardrobes. Everything has become much more casual, so the question was, What am I wearing to work? The tank top became the base piece to build a new wardrobe around. Prada was the leader here—theirs flew off the shelves—as well as Loewe.

Tote bags—from Givenchy, Valentino—became investment pieces: They made sense with our hybrid lifestyles. The tote bag was it, for us. Those from Naghedi also really resonated: A great price point, and they were gone the minute they hit the floor. (We also did well with the satin croissant evening bags from Vancouver brand A Bronze Age.)

Comfort and leisure were still important; the new alternatives to sweatpants. Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please really took off; style without sacrificing the casualization. No one wants to give up comfort, but it’s been about how to be more casual and comfortable in a more sophisticated way; maybe your white shirt got a bit more oversized.

As for denim, everyone talked about the demise of the skinny jean, but straight legged jeans did well, particularly from AG Goldschmied and Frame. And Glenn Martens at Diesel: He’s not only doing an exceptional job there, he is reinvigorating the whole denim industry. We left his show and we were thinking about all the techniques, and how to deconstruct and reconstruct denim; how we can speak about denim across our business the same way that Glenn is.

We launched Skims and that has blown up with our customers. We first launched in several stores, and then we expanded distribution. Every week we saw from our sales reports that women were coming in and asking for more, and when we were getting the next drop.

One thing that surprised me is the impact that social media like TikTok can have: The classic Birkenstock Boston clog was pretty much everywhere [on social media], and that blew up so we had wait lists. (When Dior did its collaboration with Birkenstock they sold out before they made it to the sales floor.) Things which have been around forever in our stores…we’re seeing that with celebrities and influencers’ endorsements [on that platform], they can also become tremendous successes.

Brigitte Chartrand, Vice President of Womenswear, SSENSE

There are quite a few things that I think are worth mentioning. The return to the office and the vibe that came with that has really been quite successful for us. Brands like Toteme, The Row, and a lot of South Korean labels, where it’s all down to the mix of quality, style, and ease of wear—that have this more classic, minimal aesthetic have been popular. We’re seeing tailoring, especially blazers, selling very well. I’d also say the Maryam Nassir Zadeh aesthetic of miniskirts and tall boots is doing very well too. [As for newer names….] Masha Popova, Mimi Wade, and Fidan Novruzova—nobody does boots like Fidan!—they all make products that are different from everyone else.

What didn’t surprise us, because we were in on that quite early in the game, was the interest in all of the historic brands that had a revival, like Jean Paul Gaultier, Anna Sui, Diesel, and Blumarine. Right away, they had great success. That’s been a big highlight of 2022, their comeback. Vivienne Westwood has been successful for us too; she’s part of that story. All of this started with the nostalgia for the ’90s, but we also have a customer who wants to show their fashion knowledge and awareness by wearing labels which have some historical resonance.

Rick Owens is just selling so well. It’s always been one of our favorite brands at SSENSE, but it has been great to see how much people just love him, and that they’re so loyal to him—even the wildest pieces that were on the runway are checked out on the same day that they go live on the site. And there’s no price resistance—at all. The emotional purchase: we’re seeing a lot of those. Not just Rick, but also Miu Miu and Maison Margiela. And gowns! We’re selling those really well. Not usually our most popular category, so that has been great to see.

One of the trends that we’ve seen is balletcore, in terms of active wear. People are going for a softer, more balletic look, and that translates into shoes too; we’re seeing ballet flats do really well, like the Margiela ones. Miu Miu is doing really well. And loafers, particularly, are still selling. In terms of bags, the Jodie from Bottega Veneta, is still one of our top sellers. They introduced a new size, called the Teen Jodie, which has become a bestseller.

Sam Lobban EVP/GMM Apparel & Designer, Nordstrom

It was a good fashion year. In terms of the luxury world, Chanel, Gucci, Dior, Prada, and Saint Laurent all connected with our customers. We saw a swing back towards an understated and luxurious aesthetic; our customers were also vibing with Brunello Cuccinelli, Akris, and The Row for their comfortable elegance.

[For that reason] Toteme also did well, and Issey Miyake—that fluid, easy way of dressing that’s elevated really connected. And Altuzarra and Proenza Schouler: They stick to that overarching trend of being dressed up and wearing something special, but they offer things which you can build into your wardrobe and into your life. I’d call out Veronica Beard, Vince, and Good American too.

Our customers are definitely buying event dressing, but it’s been not only about looking good but feeling good. How does it make me feel? That has become so important to whatever was bought this year. So, Skims, all the ribbed dresses, sold, and On, the running brand; our customer was buying that to wear casually, and really mixing sportswear with fashion pieces; that combination of feeling like you’re dressed up without following the traditional codes. It’s all about: I look good and I feel empowered.

We launched Loro Piana and Mugler this year, and they were really good, and our customers have also really responded to Courrèges. Also, TWP, Miaou, and Paloma Wool: new, new!

Bags that sold have been printed, patterned, and bejeweled—like those from Mach & Mach. That was an emotional purchase, as were their bow ‘princess’ shoes. We also saw the return of the ballerina flats or loafers; we had shoes from Lora Piana for the first time this year, which elevated going-to-work day dressing.

We see the influence of social media [on purchases] a lot. So much pop culture is on there—big events, sporting moments, awards shows, the Met gala. These are all front and center to our customers. That’s where our customers’ minds are—and where their minds go when they’re shopping.

This article was originally published on Vogue.com

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