The luxury sector is enjoying the afterglow of celebrity-laden red carpets and a month-long fashion week season that took place mostly in person. The Q3 2021 Lyst Index, a quarterly report released Wednesday ranking fashion’s hottest brands and products, reveals how the return of star-studded events like the Met Gala and MTV’s VMAs propelled labels like Balenciaga and Versace back into the limelight. It also offers clues on how consumers are emulating these bold style statements for their own social calendars.
“Despite the Delta variant rising and travel remaining constrained, demand for fashion was strong,” Lyst stated in the report. “As we enter the final and key commercial quarter of the year, brands will be hoping that consumers opt for a ‘revenge’ holiday season of increased spending on fashion and luxury.”
While bold fashion meant to be seen is trending, Balenciaga—the Demna Gvasalia-led design house behind Kim Kardashian West’s incognito Met Gala ensemble—ranked No. 1 as the hottest label of the quarter. Kardashian West’s take on wearing a T-shirt head-to-toe generated endless memes and social media posts following the event. Along with returning to its haute couture roots after a 53-year hibernation, Balenciaga provided creative direction for Kanye West’s controversial Donda listening party in Chicago.
The French label was also responsible for Paris Fashion Week’s most nostalgic moment. It capped off its Spring/Summer 2022 runway show with a short starring The Simpsons and an animated Anna Wintour.
Gucci, which dropped to the No. 2 spot, made noise when it released the Vault digital store, a platform based on the fashion house’s past, present and future. The label, however, is due for a boom when the film “House of Gucci” starring Lady Gaga debuts in November.
The opening of the “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” exhibit in Brooklyn and a partnership with the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team helped Dior land at No. 3.
S/S ’22 presentations in Milan and Shanghai raised Prada’s profile to No. 4. Nabbing actor Jake Gyllenhaal to front the fashion house’s new men’s fragrance campaign, despite his now-viral Vanity Fair interview in which he said bathing is “less necessary,” also kept the label in the headlines. At No. 5, Louis Vuitton took a contemporary approach to celebrating its founder’s 200th birthday by launching a mobile game.
Nike—the only sportswear company to make the list at No. 6—dropped three places in Q3 despite a 16 percent revenue increase. A new collection with Serena Williams and a new flagship in Seoul elevated its global profile.
Bottega Veneta climbed one spot to No. 7 in Q3 after it announced plans to host a runway show in Detroit. The fashion house also benefited from high-profile Gen Z celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner wearing its designs.
With its satin platform heels and sparkly frocks in high demand, Versace at No. 8 has emerged as the brand that wholly personifies the joy of dressing up. After dressing Lil Nas X in three looks for the Met Gala, Versace featured muses Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid and Naomi Campbell in its S/S ’22 runway. At No. 9, Fendi shares more with Versace than a ranking on the Lyst Index. It was the other half of the buzzed-about “Fendace” collaboration that stormed Milan Fashion Week.
Saint Laurent finished at No. 10, down one spot from Q2. The French label presented a S/S ’22 collection inspired by Paloma Picasso and showed its men’s collection in Venice, a hot spot for celebrities this summer.
Moncler, Burberry, Valentino, Off-White, Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Balmain, Jacquemus and Dolce & Gabana rounded out the remaining top 20, with each brand benefitting from in-person runway shows.
Though the Q3 2021 Lyst Index’s hottest brands skewed toward purveyors of high-end fashion and elevated looks, the list of the hottest items for men and women during the quarter underscores the continued popularity of casual fashion.
The Adidas Yeezy foam runner shoe ranked the No. 1 hottest item for men, marking the second consecutive quarter that a pair of these shoes takes top spot. Searches for polarizing style statement spiked 411 percent due to the release of two new colorways, Lyst stated, as well as a sustained increase in demand for resin and rubber footwear.
“Having converted to practical, slip-on shoes earlier in the pandemic, shoppers are now seeking evolved silhouettes and styles of these staples,” Lyst added.
At No. 2, Oakley Radar EV Path sunglasses with multi-color reflective lenses fills the demand for futuristic Y2K accessories. Meanwhile, Prada’s Cloudbust Thunder sneakers (No. 3), Valentino’s VLTN T-shirt (No. 6), On Running’s Cloud sneakers (No. 7) and Pangaia’s text-print sweatshirt (No. 10) speak to consumers’ fondness for comfort.
The men’s list is also home to several gender-free pieces. A modern-day classic, Telfar’s shopping bag ranked No. 4, followed by ERL’s colorful quilted down jacket at No. 5.
Jacquemus’ bucket hat (No. 8) and Eliou Circus’ beaded necklace (No. 9) showed the versatility of non-gender-specific accessories.
The hottest items for women closely mirrored the men’s list. Prada’s raffia tote bag ranked No. 1, followed by Versace’s Medusa platform pumps (No. 3), Nike’s React Vapor NXT sneakers (No. 4) and JW Anderson’s chain loafer mules (No. 5).
Balenciaga’s Le Cagole bag, which riffs on the moto-inspired styles that the brand had huge success with in the 2000s, ranked No. 6. In another nod to throwback fashion, Jacquemus’ open-front La maille Pralù cardigan landed at No. 7.
Roxanne Assoulin’s bracelet set with colorful beads and optimistic messages like “Kindness is magic” ranked No. 8, followed by Toteme’s classic striped sweater at No. 9 and Emma Brewin’s furry bucket hat at No. 10.