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From Cults to CBD, Pop Culture Had a Strong Grip on Fashion in 2019

Fashion had its wires crossed in 2019. Segments of the industry embraced modern romance and modest silhouettes, while others tapped into a revival of psychedelia and survivalist culture.

In Lyst’s “Year in Fashion 2019” report, the global search platform named eight moods that pulled designers in opposing directions, ultimately leading to an interesting and eclectic 12 months of fashion.

Here’s a look back at the roller-coaster ride.

Cult Girl Summer

The fascination with cults reached a new level in 2019, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Manson family murders. Cult-themed plotlines infiltrated pop culture moments like Netflix’s sleeper hit “Wild Wilk Country,” folk horror flick “Midsommar” and director Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.” Cult-inspired editorials and ad campaigns also trended. The themed played out in women’s fashion, too, with modest prairie dresses emerging as one of the most searched-for items in July, Lyst said.

Modest dress by Morten Ussing.
Morten Ussing captured the modest look. Cynthia Anderson/Shutterstock

’90s Resurgence

What’s left to say about millennials’ and Gen Z’s fixation for nostalgia? This year Lyst saw ’90s trends ramp up, including cropped tops and square-toed shoes. Intrigue in designers that flourished in the decade also grew, particularly Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and Versace. Fendi also benefited from the ’90s revival, seeing searches for its Baguette bag increase 164 percent year-over-year.


“In a politically turbulent year, customers looked to fashion for survival,” Lyst said. This doomsday mindset was evident in the popularity of utilitarian fashion. Searches for cargo pants and utility vests saw a spike in searches during the fall season. Searches for belt bags also increased, growing 33 percent over the past six months. In footwear, the trend was reflected in the sales spike of combat boots, which increased 73 percent in September, Lyst said.

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Fashion was in survivalist mode in 2019.
House of Holland embraced utility fashion. WWD/Shutterstock

Extra Romance

Women’s fashion took a sweet turn in 2019, veering into cherubic territory with ultra-feminine frocks and accessories. Searches for beaded bags, pearl hair accessories, tulle skirts and babydoll dresses “significantly increased” during the spring season, Lyst reported. Puffed sleeves came into style as a strange hybrid of milkmaid-meets-Dynasty drama. And miniature bags became all the rage, with searches for the petite accoutrement increasing 50 percent over the summer.

Puffed sleeves dominated shoulders this year.
Puffed sleeves dominated shoulders this year. Shutterstock


The 50th anniversary of Woodstock and the growing acceptance of marijuana and CBD in the U.S. shone a spotlight on ’60s psychedelia in 2019. This budding interest in mind-alternating drugs was reflected in the abundance of tie-dye, neon and psychedelic motifs in all tiers of fashion. And while “Living Coral” was Pantone’s Color of the Year, the real star of the year was neon green. Searches for the slime color increased 69 percent over the summer, Lyst reported.

Ashley Graham rocked tie-dye on the Prabal Gurung catwalk.
Ashley Graham rocked tie-dye on the Prabal Gurung catwalk. WWD/Shutterstock

Statement Tailoring

The power suit earned a spot in fashionistas’ closets this year. Searches for oversized blazers grew 55 percent in 2019. However, the look was anything but staid. Lyst said the most common search terms used alongside suits were “vivid” and “bright.” Interest in short suits also picked up this year.

Streetwear Everywhere

Off-White was the most searched brand of the year, Lyst reported. But streetwear permeated across fashion, genders and genres in 2019 and consumers were willing to invest. This year, Lyst saw consumers spend on average $192 on sneakers and $67 on a T-shirt.

Off-White was the go-to brand for T-shirts and streetwear.
Off-White was the go-to brand for T-shirts and streetwear. WWD/Shutterstock

Shapewear Revolution

A case of culture appropriation was a mere hurdle for Kim Kardashian West and her new shapewear line. In June, the social media star launched Kimono Solutionwear, a direct-to-consumer line of inclusive shapewear, but she pressed pause after receiving backlash for the moniker. She relaunched the line as Skims three months later, reportedly selling $2 million in product within the first few minutes of it going live. Overall, Lyst said shapewear is in demand. Searches for bodysuits and leotards increase 83 percent in 2019, while demand for bike shorts increased 137 percent.