As American retailers gear up for spring 2022, the uncertainty surrounding the future of fashion remains palpable.
At last week’s Magic and Project trade shows in Las Vegas, a number of trends proliferated across the showroom floor. With limited insight into what shoppers lives will look like six months into the future, fashion players offered up a number of themes that splintered off in divergent directions.
Many sprinkled lounge and athleisure styles—including comfy, oversized matching sets—liberally across their lines, banking on Covid’s continued influence. Others brought out bright colors and feminine silhouettes, in anticipation of a return to normalcy. Sourcing Journal spoke with Kelly Helfman, commercial president for Informa Markets, about the trends that are surfacing for spring 2022—and why shoppers might gravitate to them.
“It’s all about silk everything—dresses, skirts, sets, and bomber jackets,” Helfman said. Lightweight satins and “silk-adjacent” synthetics will also play heavily into spring offerings, serving shoppers a hint of polish while allowing them to remain cool and comfortable. Matching sets will continue to play an important role, she said, as shoppers have come to love the ease of a ready-made outfit.
Across the showroom, rust tones proved popular, along with animal prints, sage green and fuchsia.
“We call it the ‘Almost Famous’ influence—like Kate Hudson’s character from the movie,” Helfman said, referencing one of the show’s most prominent and identifiable trends.
Psychedelic prints, “Flower Power” motifs, heavy embroidery, floppy, wide-brimmed hats, and T-shirts bearing yellow smiley faces and references to Woodstock were among the most consistently showcased fashion fare. “That girl is back—the one who wears bellbottoms and a scarf in her hair,” Helfman said, noting that she believes pop culture and a growing interest in the social movements, music and even the extracurricular activities of the era have fed into its resurgence.
“This is your Free People girl,” she said, noting that the brand’s embodiment of ‘70s boho chic is now expanding across the mainstream market.
“This collegiate-varsity-preppy look is huge,” Helfman added, crediting a revival of the smash television hit “Gossip Girl,” which famously followed a fictional group of wealthy Upper East Side private schoolers during the early 2000s, with the renewed interest.
“You’ll see white collared shirts with a sweater vest and a skinny scarf and a schoolgirl skirt,” she said. Brands across both Magic and Project showcased the trend, adding sweater sets, cable-knit pleated pants and skirts and blazer-short sets to the mix.
“This is a big story on TikTok right now, called ‘Dark Academia,’” Wendy Bendoni, assistant professor of fashion marketing at the School of Business at Woodbury University, added. Bendoni pointed to data from Fashion Analytics showing sales of oversized blazers up 107 percent year over year, while heeled loafers and tennis skirts have also shown strong resonance.
Perhaps the most prolific trend at the show, oversized menswear-inspired button-down shirts appeared at nearly every booth on the floor. “There’s a game on TikTok right now about stealing your dad’s shirt—so just know your shirts may go missing with this trend,” Bendoni said.
Worn as layering pieces over T-shirts, dresses and jumpsuits, the loose-fitting styles ranged from traditional plaid flannels to chambray, felted and corduroy fabrications. “It’s a really big, flowy button-down over everything, from biker shorts to leggings,” Helfman added. “Everyone is going to be producing a big, oversized shirt.”
According to Helfman, the movement mirrors trends in menswear toward casual suiting. “Suiting is coming back—you’ll see people who love streetwear trends investing in suits, but they’re not old-school and tailored, they have a casual twist,” she said. On the women’s side, the boxy shirts add a slight edge to otherwise feminine ensembles.