From gender-neutral wardrobes to collections crossing the virtual and physical divide. 2022 took some getting used to

2022 was a year of both consolidation and experimentation. Sure, shockwaves abounded in the political and cultural spheres, but following two years of tribulation-level turmoil, there was a sense of getting used to not getting used to things.

This acceptance of uncertainty lies at the heart of great artistic (and fashionable) statements. With so much focus on the business of fashion as it affected women and womenswear, the biggest shifts into uncharted waters – arguably the most significant since dress-down Fridays – came in menswear.

Fendi and JW Anderson’s inversion of both musclebound and wimpish tropes. Prada’s dominatrix leather shorts not so much usurping as shredding expectations. Where Gucci doubled the impact of the alt-fashion procession, other men’s labels are intent on making it the new normal

Meeting and inverting societal norms is what good fashion is all about

Some may turn their noses to this skewered masculinity. But gender fluidity offers a reorientation on many levels, and the willingness of mainstream designers to write the script both ways is a sign of inclusivity across the fence. Plus, the reworking of proforma silhouettes and shapes creates untold possibilities.

In some ways, little changes. Best dressed of ‘22 articles noted Chalamet rocking an open collar and sockless bohemianism. Harry Styles paraded an oversized floral cloth brooch. Lil Nas X went spaceman.

All wore suits. It’s the de facto male fashion statement of any persuasion. Previously blazer etiquette pulled everything into its orbit, but now it’s just a starting point. How far men can fly gracefully is a matter of taste and healthy debate.

New trends – and new mediums – will be challenged by the old, as much as the new seeks to usurp tradition

Options beyond flesh and blood suits will be worth watching in 2023. Brands like Gucci and Nike have leveraged the metaverse. Beyond Roblox forays, it’s certain that games like NBA2K, Fortnite, and a revitalized FIFA will feature more fashion brands eager to expand their market with NFTs, reversing the trend by stocking game tie-ins in physical stores. These online creations are self-referential in ways that casual and sportswear pre-figured, disposing of many formal conventions. But as new trends in virtual and actual clothing emerge, expect compromise and expansion wherever worlds collide.   

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