Fashion relies on change to drive newness and intrigue. Fashion in 2021, however, is nearly unrecognizable from the pajama-wearing, Marie Kondo-ing, back-to-basics state it slid into one year ago during the height of the coronavirus.
Lyst’s new report, “The Year in Fashion 2021,” is evidence of how the fashion industry and consumers are shifting out of their pandemic comfort zones into new eras of workwear and occasion dressing. “This year brought the vaccine and with it a transition to the ‘new normal,’” Lyst stated. “We dressed up to go out and to make ourselves feel good.”
The most-wanted items of 2021, ranked by the fashion search platform, reflects how this brand of dopamine dressing influenced consumers’ online behavior.
Lyst named Levi’s loose fit jeans the most wanted item of 2021.
Though jeans became one of the first items to be relegated to the back of the closet during quarantine, the category is basking in a major glow-up.
The style, which Levi’s launched in early 2020, emerged as a fan favorite this year and has now been followed by the brand’s key competitors. Worn by Gen Z style icons like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Hailey and Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa, the trend underscores the cohort’s distaste for skinny jeans and echoes Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh’s view that denim is entering a new cycle.
As wardrobes transitioned away from sweatpants, Lyst reported that searches for the roomy denim style rose 52 percent year-on-year, and baggy or wide-leg jeans received almost double the number of searches versus skinny jeans year-to-date.
The jeans are a far cry from 2020’s most wanted item: Off-White’s logo face mask.
At No. 2, the Rolex Submariner watch highlights consumers’ growing interest in luxury timepieces, especially as milestone markers. Lyst reported that searches for watches, along with the terms “couple,” “engagement,” and “wedding,” have started to appear more frequently and have collectively increased 53 percent within the past year.
Though Daniel Lee and Bottega Veneta abruptly cut ties last week, the former creative director’s mini Jodie bag lives on. At No. 3, the woven leather shoulder bag was the most-searched bag on Lyst in 2021. The $1,900 bag has since become the de facto prototype for fast-fashion brands chasing the minimalist ’90s aesthetic.
Genderless and versatile, Birkenstock’s Boston clog is the fourth most wanted item of the year. The cork footbed style garnered 36 percent more pageviews this year than the brand’s uber-popular Arizona sandal.
Searches for men’s wedding skirts jumped 48 percent year-on-year, but Thom Browne’s preppy pleated skirt takes the cake. The No. 5 most wanted item of 2021 will go down in the annals of pop culture, worn by tastemakers spanning Dan Levy to Pete Davidson at the Met Gala.
At No. 6, Nensi Dojaska’s asymmetric mini dress is an example of how sexy occasion dressing came back in full force when covid restrictions loosened up. First featured in The Lyst Index Q1, the ’90s-inspired mini dress is 2021’s most-wanted LBD, representing the collective excitement around going out and dressing up again. Searches for the strappy dress peaked from June to August, as celebrities like Emma Corrin, Emily Ratajkowski, Rihanna and more were spotted wearing it.
Another summer novelty item, Prada’s crochet bag, made the cut. The No. 7 most wanted item sold out quickly across multiple retailers on Lyst, while searches for DIY-inspired crochet bags, in general, increased 56 percent year-on-year.
Jacquemus’ La Maille Pralù cardigan, known for its open front and chain closure, nabbed the No. 8 spot on the list. While the 2021 Y2K trend ushered in a myriad of items that millennials already lived through—including beaded necklaces, platform footwear and low-rise jeans—risqué knitwear packed the most star-power. Worn by one-half of the one of the year’s most curious couples, Megan Fox, as well as Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, the cardigan spearheaded the summer’s pin-top trend. In August, searches spiked 79 percent for this style, with “front tie top”, “lace up top” and “pin top” being the most frequently searched keywords, Lyst reported.
Hoodies by sustainable brand Pangaia ranked No. 9. Though the brand just stepped into the denim category, searches for its organic cotton sweatshirts have climbed 172 percent during 2021. Having fans like Harry Styles likely helps, but the brand has also tapped into the demand for feel-good colors like flamingo pink and saffron yellow.
And Other Stories’ striped sweater rounded out the list at No. 10, heralding a return to minimalist, nautical-inspired designs. Overall, Lyst said searches for striped knitwear increased 125 percent year-on-year. In early August, month-on-month searches for striped polo sweaters climbed 37 percent.