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, where 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 12 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. In 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…
Bosse Myhr, director mens and womenswear, Selfridges
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 colour, 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 hand-crafted 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 socialising, 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 – the brand’s 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 casualisation. 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-leg 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 favourite 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 activewear. 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 bejewelled – 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.
CreditLead image: @dualipa via Instagram