We can all agree on the fact that TikTok’s now-infamous FYP has influenced our lives in more ways than one. Whether it be through the long list of songs that now play on a loop inside our brains or the numerous dance routines we somehow felt confident enough to share with the rest of the app’s 1.8 billion users.
But when it comes to pinpointing the specific area in which TikTok has had the biggest impact, it simply can’t be denied that the video-sharing platform ruled our wardrobes—and everything we decided to add to it. In some instances, it almost felt as if we didn’t have much of a say in what we ended up wearing. The algorithm did all the work for us as we mindlessly followed along.
That being said, as we enjoy the last few days of 2022, we can’t help but fondly look back on some of the fashion moments that marked the tumultuous past year. Here are our nine favourite TikTok fashion trends that we’re more than happy to bring into 2023.
If you know you know… just how hard it was to avoid seeing this dress on social media. Trust me, I tried.
Founded in London in 2017 by besties Francesca Capper and Natasha Somerville who met while studying womenswear design at the renowned fashion university Central Saint Martins, POSTER GIRL has been described as a label “manifesting confidence, ultra femininity and referencing a direct nostalgia to the designers’ upbringings.”
The brand has brought out various styles and colourways, but its clothes tend to keep to a similar theme. It’s the perfect dress if you want to leave little to the imagination, with daring cut-outs and mesh detailing from top to bottom, it hugs your body in all the right places—it’s the shapewear you’ll never want to hide.
It grew to the height of its fame this past year after the influencer of all influencers Kylie Jenner shared a picture of herself in the Miranda dress with her nearly 400 million followers on Instagram. Only a month after, Dua Lipa also posted to the gram wearing a similar style from POSTER GIRL.
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Since then, the female-empowering label has catapulted into the spotlight and been donned by just about everyone and anyone from British rapper Stefflon Don to the stars of this year’s Love Island. The iconic dress also saturated all of our FYPs with hilarious reviews commentating on how incredibly tiny it looks when it’s not stretched out onto someone’s body.
You know the saying right, hold onto something long enough, it will eventually come back into style. Although cowboy boots may not be the most practical choice of footwear, especially in the summer, this year, they were all the rage.
The trend became official after luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton, Chloé and Alexander McQueen incorporated the boots into their collections. Nowadays however, is a fashion trend really one if it’s not seen on the likes of Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, and Bella Hadid? When it comes to cowboy boots in 2022, the holy trinity mentioned just prior all had their ‘ranchcore’ moment.
Meanwhile in the world of common mortals, festival-goers pairing them with dresses, shorts and mini skirts, making the footwear a stylish (and slightly less comfortable) alternative to wellies.
While Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears may have been the original champions of double denim, it’s clear that this matchy-matchy trend had a serious revival and makeover in 2022.
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Often deemed the Marmite of the fashion world, double denim has undoubtedly divided style gurus over the years. Often relegated to the aesthetic abyss, alongside other ‘crimes against fashion’ such as mullet shoes and stiletto Crocs, netizens spent 2022 reclaiming the style and making it their own.
Off-duty models donned matching denim oversized shirts and jeans, while the more experimental gen Zers expressed themselves through bright-coloured denim and patchwork.
Rapper, designer, and resident firestarter Kanye West even participated in the trend takeover—appearing at Kenzo’s autumn/winter 2022 menswear show sporting a matching double denim look with iconic internet sensation and girlfriend at the time Julia Fox.
Everyone’s favourite comfy yet impractical winter boots made an inevitable comeback this winter. Founded in California in the 1970s, at first, UGGs did not receive the love and affection they deserved. It wasn’t until 1994 when the US team sported them during the Winter Olympics that people started to take notice of this fluffy footwear.
In 2022, however, there was a particular style of boot that sent every gen Zer and millennial feral. The UGG mini—which currently has amassed 62.1 million views on TikTok—dominated our FYP and our feet this year. Perfectly impractical, these stylish feet warmers had us all hooked.
However, if you were worrying about the hefty price tag attached to this new trend, some netizens have decided to DIY themselves a pair by cutting up an old pair of UGGs, thereby handcrafting their own.
Y2K called—it’s still thriving. The 90s phenomenon continued to dominate and influence a myriad of subcultures and aesthetics this year. Most prominently, was the resurgence of Juicy Couture’s iconic flagship velour two-piece tracksuits, initially popularised by socialites Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
If you’ve been loving the triumphant Juicy revival, you may want to pay thanks to former Ivy Park lead creative and style guru Amy Gibson. The British designer recognised the value in relaunching the Juicy brand, aptly now titled Juicy 2.0. Gibson’s aim was to create a new chic and stylish look which prioritised inclusivity—in relation to both ethnicity and body type.
While the loafer trend may have been first popularised by Prada’s Monolith stompers, which were released in 2021, this aesthetic has since come into its own. Unlike your everyday work shoe, chunky loafers are the boost you need to conquer any sticky situation—or make a loud and memorable entrance.
After it became clear that gen Zers had embraced the loafer look, other designers such as Proenza Schouler and Dries Van Noten couldn’t help but try and capitalise on the growing success.
New Balance trainers, once considered the footwear of soccer mums, are now capturing the hearts and minds of netizens across the globe. With the popularity of dadcore—and its parent grandpacore—taking over TikTok, it didn’t take long for these glorified tennis shoes to make their way into our lives.
New Balance reinvented itself by offering consumers a laid-back and seemingly straightforward shoe—as opposed to the overwhelming and flashy alternatives that existed in the ether.
Fan favourites of singer Justin Bieber and model Kaia Gerber, it’s a sure thing that these dad-inspired delicacies will continue running straight into 2023.
When Georgian fashion designer Demna Gvasalia—who had previously ignited the streetwear juggernaut as Vetements’ co-founder—was appointed artistic director of Balenciaga in October 2015, the luxury fashion brand almost became exclusively synonymous with controversy.
From its recent pair of distressed Converse look-alikes that retailed for £1,290 and its multi-layered colourful blanket bench aimed at fuckboys, to reimagining IKEA’s iconic carrier bag as a luxury good and its previous stiletto Crocs, provoking outrage has always been Balenciaga’s go-to move with Demna at the helm.
And, up until recently, his approach was mostly celebrated as it represented a well-needed breath of fresh air blown into the fashion industry. Originally, Balenciaga revolutionised women’s fashion with never-before-seen shapes in the mid-20th century, such as the ‘ballroom hems’ of the early 1950s, the ‘semi-fit’ lines of the mid-50s and the introduction of the ‘sack dress’ in 1957—all because of the creative genius that was the brand’s founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Like his predecessor Nicolas Ghesquière—we’ll simply ignore Alexander Wang’s short stint as the brand’s creative director—Demna has worked closely with the Balenciaga House archives to look at the revolutionary founder’s original designs and maintain his artistic integrity in cut, shape, and material. The fact that the designer managed to attract the likes of Kanye “Ye” West, Kim Kardashian, and Justin Bieber through polarising yet ironic pieces that pushed consumers to ponder the very meaning of ‘taste’ only came as an added bonus.
But just like Ye took it too far with his ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirts and anti-Semitic comments, the release of two new Balenciaga campaigns—one featuring photos of children clutching handbags that look like teddy bears in bondage gear and another including paperwork about child pornography laws—saw the Kering-owned brand fall from grace like never before.
Following a series of Instagram apologies that failed to quell the controversy it is facing—where the brand issued a statement admitting “a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility,” announced ongoing “internal and external investigations,” and claimed it was reaching out to “organizations who specialize in child protection and aim at ending child abuse and exploitation”—it’s now been revealed that the luxury brand is waging a $25 million lawsuit against the production company involved in one of the problematic ad campaigns. So much for taking full responsibility, huh?
It all started on 16 November 2022, when Balenciaga published its ‘Balenciaga Gift Shop’ campaign which was shot by Gabriele Galimberti, an Italian documentary photographer who had previously made a book featuring images of children with their toys.
Galimberti’s photographs featured six children clutching destroyed teddy bear handbags, which had first been presented during Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 runway show in Paris. The bears had black eyes, fishnet tops, and leather harnesses. In the campaign, the kids had wine glasses and other gift items displayed around them.
According to the photographer, the objects as well as the children and the location chosen for the shoot had all been pre-selected by Balenciaga, with numerous staff members present during the two days of photography.
Soon after the Gift Shop campaign went live, outrage against the images flooded the internet, with many netizens condemning the juxtaposition of children with what looked like ‘bondage paraphernalia’. Only five days later, Balenciaga messed up again with the release of yet another highly controversial campaign.
Though the brand’s 2023 Garde-Robe advertising campaign—which included Nicole Kidman, Isabelle Huppert, and Bella Hadid—was shot in July, so technically months before the Gift Shop campaign, and introduced looks from a May 2022 show at the New York Stock Exchange, it was released on 21 November.
In one of its images, a $3,000 Balenciaga x adidas Hourglass handbag was photographed on a desk along with printed copies of a legal-looking document. Social media users, who had the idea of zooming in on the paper, discovered that it was the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in US versus Williams—a case that examined whether laws banning the promotion of child pornography curtailed First Amendment freedom of speech rights.
Other props of bad taste in the campaign included the book Fire from the Sun by the Belgian painter Michaël Borremans, whose work has been shown at the David Zwirner gallery, which once described his paintings as “toddlers engaged in playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones and insinuations of violence.”
As the internet burst into flames and right-leaning media outlets including Fox News linked the brand to the QAnon conspiracy theory, with TV host Tucker Carlson stating that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media,” Balenciaga began releasing a couple rounds of responses to the backlash.
First, on 24 November, it apologised for the Gift Shop campaign and promised to remove the advertisements from its social media channels. Then, only hours later, a second apology addressing the Garde-Robe campaign was posted to the brand’s Instagram Stories.
“We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign,” the statement said. “We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photo shoot. We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children’s safety and well-being.”
On 25 November, Balenciaga filed papers initiating a $25 million lawsuit against the production company North Six and Nicholas Des Jardins, who designed the set for the Garde-Robe campaign. It should also be noted that North Six has produced previous Balenciaga campaigns and worked with other impressive and high-flying clients such as Dior and Beyoncé.
Balenciaga alleged that the production company and set designer engaged in “inexplicable acts and omissions” that were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.” In other words, by claiming that the documents were placed in the campaign photographs without its knowledge and had led it to face false associations with child pornography, Balenciaga tried to wash its hands from any blame or close association.
According to one of Des Jardins’ lawyers, the documents featured in the Garde-Robe campaign came from “numerous boxes” that had been rented from a prop house. Yet, in its statement published on 28 November, Balenciaga claimed that all written props were supposed to be “fake office documents,” adding: “They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”
Although it goes without saying that the brand had the images in hand for months before their release, it ultimately called the inclusion of the Supreme Court page “unapproved” and “the result of reckless negligence.” Riiight…
Des Jardins’ lawyer added in her statement that “there certainly was no malevolent scheme going on.” Balenciaga representatives were on set during the shoot, “overseeing it and handling papers and other props, and Des Jardins as a set designer was not responsible for image selection from the shoot,” she wrote.
Ultimately, image selection came from the brand, which in one of its many statements said that it took “full accountability for our lack of oversight and control” and “could have done things differently.”
Online, however, as various conspiracy theories continue to spread, one specific argument seems to be picking up some speed. Focused on Russian stylist and consultant Lotta Volkova—who has been working with Balenciaga since Gvasalia turned it around—the theory claims that on her Instagram account, which has since been made private, Volkova had publicly shared many disturbing images depicting children in distress alongside gore scenes.
Though it’s unclear whether Volkova was involved in any of the recent campaigns, netizens are convinced that the presence of teddy bears and BDSM-inspired photoshoots in some of her Instagram posts confirm the same.
Now, let’s be clear on one thing: luxury powerhouses like Balenciaga are vigilant crafters and protectors of their brand image. Nothing gets out of a luxury brand’s door without extensive review. It’s therefore inconceivable that no one inside the company saw the implicit (if not explicit) messages conveyed.
Balenciaga alone is responsible for the ads and will be held accountable in the court of public opinion. We can spend hours arguing about what exactly the company was trying to say, but we can also universally agree that these ads were inappropriate in some way or another and in bad taste.
The brand crossed cultural boundaries that it should have understood can’t be violated. “Using children to make political statements just bites differently and is seen in poor taste,” Dr Martina Olbert, founder of Meaning.Global and a leading authority on brand meaning told Forbes. “And if there’s one thing that’s the opposite of poor taste, it’s luxury.”