From meme fashion to gamified drops: The top consumer trends of 2022

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If 2021 was about dopamine dressing and a touch-and-go return to some normality, 2022 was a redressing of the balance. 

Brands made the most of the return to in-person shopping and events, with gamified, physical community-building experiences. Fashion became more irreverent, with unexpected, emerging brands rising to fame in unconventional ways. Accessories, an accessible purchase for many aspiring luxury shoppers, was a breakout category for designer brands. 

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And through it all, the era of casualisation and glam overcorrection levelled out, leaving us with a balance between casual wear and formal wear.

Satire and memes join fashion’s vernacular

A swathe of satirical fashion brands including Cowboys of Habit, Uncle Inc and BugGirl200 hit the mainstream this year, using TikTok and Instagram to create viral moments and build brand recognition for their mischievous slogan T-shirts and risqué pieces. 

Newcastle-based satirical brand, Cowboys of Habit.

Photo: Cowboys of Habit

Instagram-first label Cowboys of Habit, based in founder Han Waite’s dining room in Newcastle, UK, regularly posts memes alongside product campaigns to signal to its young customer base that the label is in tune with their interests and popular culture. “Essentially, I am my audience. I’m trying to attract like-minded people,” Waite said. Her slogans include “Trophy Wife” and “It’s not me, it’s you”, printed on vests or sheer dresses. Cowboys of Habit’s “J’adore Cowboys” vest went viral in August when Kendall Jenner wore it to a Wyoming rodeo. The post has 6 million likes and the top instantly sold out. 

In the creator space, brands are finding success with influencers who take a unique and fun approach to fashion. Creator Mira Al-Momani has found success this year from her “wobbly” styling TikToks and unboxings, spotlighting emerging designers alongside brand partners such as Coach. 

Satirical brand Uncle Inc’s founders feature heavily in its TikTok marketing, creating relatable content based around their slogan tees. “At this point in fashion, everything has been done,” says co-founder Alex Holmes. “People want to be confused by fashion and they want clothing that starts a conversation in their head. People our age want to be unique and weird.”

Gamification of drops

Streetwear fans are accustomed to queuing outside Supreme or BAPE, or facing down bots in online ballots to get their hands on the latest grails. In 2022, the drop evolved once again, as a new cohort of streetwear labels gamified their retail experiences, using fashion as merch for a broader culture and social media to create viral, roadblock moments in-person.

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From meme fashion to gamified drops: The top consumer trends of 2022

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