Arts and Entertainment

2021 Fashion: A Year in Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Issue 8, Volume 112

By Adele Bois, Ivy Halpern 

As the world reopens this year following COVID-19, the fashion industry has seen an emergence of new trends. Many people developed a personal style during quarantine and have continued to refine it this year. Recently, fashion has been heavily driven by social media. Inspiration may come from well-established Instagram influencers like Emma Chamberlain, or other minor TikTok influencers. Even FIT students share fashion tips with the world.

This year has also been a major intersection of fast and vintage fashion. Certain vintage pieces or styles are resurrected and then trickled down the fashion chain, beginning with high end brands and ending with mass production through fast fashion. Companies like Shein mimic other brands and trends, though the clothing is cheap in both price and quality. The ease of fast fashion, combined with the popularity of thrifting and the current fad of being sustainable, make for a versatile array of outfits.

One popular designer revived in the past year has been Jean Paul Gaultier, whose iconic mesh shirts and graphic prints fit right into the re-emerging 2000s era style. Wearers often pair his shirts with other high-end pieces to complete the look. However, due to the high quality and subsequent high cost of his items, websites like Shein often distribute cheap replicas. They market their clothes so that average shoppers can afford a quick dupe. Though this is a solution in the short term, it also decreases the value of the original items and diminishes their history.

In a perfect world, everyone would purchase sustainable items from small businesses, but there are issues in the sustainable clothing market that prevent this. Sustainably made clothes tend to be much more expensive than buyers are used to, and as trends change, people are not willing to purchase a costly item that may be out of style in a few months. However, with the recent surge in personal style, timeless items have once again become popular, and people are exploring different ways to make a trend their own. Hopefully, the development of personal styles will decrease the need for a constant wardrobe change, allowing for fewer purchases in the fast fashion industry.

Accessorizing has also become a great way to put a unique spin on an otherwise simple outfit. This year, colorful, chunky, clay-looking rings have become trendy, contrasting the simple and dainty jewelry of the past. Similarly, baseball hats are no longer just for the field. They can add depth and layers to any outfit, allowing shoppers to play around with different styles, colors, and materials to find the perfect match. The accessories someone chooses, often sourced from small designers as opposed to mass manufacturers, have become a great way to express personality in small ways.

As people become more aware of their ecological footprint, many look for new ways to incorporate old pieces into their outfits. Items like old leg warmers and puffer jackets or vests that once seemed like exclusively winter pieces have now been reused year-round as perfect layering items and can be seen all over Pinterest. Even your grandfather’s old patterned sweaters can be incorporated into modern-day trends. Following TikTok and YouTube tutorials, some fashion-savvy individuals have also taken to buying ill-fitting clothes or ugly pieces at thrift stores and then “flipping” them into a popular look. Crochet shirts and skirts have become widely popular for their colorful, eccentric look and uniqueness. Though some styles may not be for everyone, it is a step toward making fashion on a smaller and longer-lasting scale.

In recent years, choosing footwear has become a lot more deliberate. We can no longer resort to white tennis shoes when leaving the house. The popularity of boots is increasing immensely and different types of boots have gained traction. In 2021, Doc Martens had a huge revival; their versatility and classic look appealed to many different styles. This style of “chunky” shoe progressed into the summer with chunky sandals and the infamous FILA sneaker reaching a huge fanbase. Those who were looking for another unique style turned to work boots and vintage cowboy boots, as well as knee-high boots, which were synonymous with the “off-duty model” trend.

Many trends this year continued from last year—take low rise jeans for example. Fashion is cyclical, as seen with reemerging ‘90s and ‘00s outfits, but that doesn’t mean that each piece has to be. The benefit of living in such a modern world is that we have the ability to take fashion into our own hands and put a personal spin on it rather than relying on big corporations and factories exclusively. Though we may not be completely sustainable in the near future, taking individual steps away from supporting fast fashion has already started a global movement and a trend that will hopefully flourish in the new year.