Predicting the Trends of 2022

Cory Kennedy and Sky Ferreira, a DressX model, Bella from Twilight, Kim Petras's "Coconuts", Vibram shoes, and Ashley Tisdale in the mid 2000s
Cory Kennedy and Sky Ferreira, a DressX model, Bella from Twilight, Kim Petras’s “Coconuts”, Vibram shoes, and Ashley Tisdale in the mid 2000s. Photo: Alamy and @DressX. Image: Sam Boxer 

When does something actually become “cool”? Sometimes it’s a response to high fashion or the times we live in – just look at Crocs, the UGG revival and the reemergence of Juicy Couture, owing to the pandemic demand for clothes so soft you forget you have a corporeal form and the internet’s proclivity for Y2K fashion. Sometimes there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to it at all. Think of the time when everyone was doing sea shanties on TikTok and internet culture writers did thinkpieces about how this symbolised our longing for a simpler way of life, when actually it mostly got big because it was funny and sea shanties slap. 

Trying to predict trends can over-egg the cultural pudding a bit, but with that caveat in mind, we had had a go anyway. The following is what we see in our crystal ball (Instagram) for in 2022 – and to give this whole enterprise a bit more authority, we also enlisted digital expert and author of Break The Internet, Olivia Yallop, to offer her take on the things that will define our personalities in the next year.  

The new butt is… boobs

From Adele’s British Vogue cover to the latest Kim Petras single “Coconuts”, the cultural ground is fertile for the comeback of the humble titty. Bums have dominated the conversation of late, and while they are far too deserving to ever truly leave it, our spidey senses are telling us that boobs are on their way back in to share the spotlight (see also: the promo image for alt pop’s new darling Rebecca Black and Slayyyter’s collab “Read My Mind”). Expect tits to be huge, pushed up under the chin, and everywhere for 2022, as they deserve. 

The new wired headphones is… the iPod

We love recycling technology – Polaroid cameras, vinyl, and most recently wired headphones – so a reappraisal of the iPod is next. Given many listeners’ dissatisfaction with streaming services, particularly when it comes to screwing over artists (and not mentioning the cringe “Taylor Swift lived rent free in your head and slayed your life fellow kids” tone of your 2021 Spotify Wrapped…), you could see music fans giving up on them entirely and digging out their old analogue listening devices from Ye Olde 2008 instead. 

The new y2k is… late 00s awk 

“The Y2K aesthetic – all pastel pinks, frosted wrap glasses and ironic Juicy tube tops – has hit its peak,” Yallop says. In 2022, we’ll be moving onto a slightly different iteration of Gen Z’s favourite fashion trend: “Next year, get ready to embrace late noughties awk; a self-consciously dorky look that relives the best of the worst of the late 00s. We’re talking layered cami tops, buttoned waistcoats, long denim skirts, and belts on everything. Unlikely style icons include Bella from Twilight (often tagged on Depop) and any red carpet appearance from Ashley Tisdale c. 2005-2009.” Jesus take the wheel.  

The new emo revival is… indie sleaze

iPods and wired headphones, particularly the white Apple ones, were integral parts of the indie scene the first time around, and it looks like we’re very much on the cusp of a second life for the late 2000s and early 2010s aesthetic. This may sound terrifying – we are surely not far away from the return of American Apparel disco pants and crying about boys in winklepickers while wearing cardigans – but it does make sense.

Arctic Monkeys, one of the mainstay bands of the time, have confirmed a new album this year, and the rhythmic guitar sound of bands like The Rakes and The Young Knives has been somewhat reanimated in 2022 by Wet Leg, Yard Act and others. Get your berets ready and prepare to have a pint poured over you at a basement club while the DJ plays “We Are Your Friends”, and in the meantime light up your fight or flight responses while looking at the @indiesleaze Instagram.

The new loungewear is… uncomfortable, impractical glam

This is kind of an obvious one that we already saw hints of in 2021 as lockdown eased, but fur, feathers, stilettos, vinyl, and, unfortunately, bandage dresses will come back with a vengeance as everyone gets their looks together after a winter of ketchup-stained tracksuit bottoms and Omicron-related uncertainty.  

The new “Game of Thrones” is… “The Three-Body Problem”

From Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss arises another sprawling book adaptation that reviewers will be calling “epic” when it arrives sometime next year on Netflix. The Three-Body Problem is a based on the three-book series by Chinese author Liu Cixin, which imagines a future in which Earth is waiting it out before being invaded by its nearest star system. 2022 will be a pretty big year for literary sci-fi in general, as the adaptation of Emily St. John-Mandel’s Station Eleven – centring on a mysterious virus, never heard that one before – also continues. 

The new chocolate brown is…. very peri 

“Head-to-toe brown fits may have ruled the TikTok for you page in 2021, but the colour experts at Pantone have forecast a brand new hue for the new year,” Yallop says. As you might have guessed, the new chocolate brown, which was the new lime green (which was itself the new millennial pink), is… periwinkle! “It’s giving… Parma Violet,” Yallop adds, “from cosy lilac tracksuits to perky purple nail tips.”  

The new literary sad girl is… the party girl

You know her, you empathise with her, and you tolerate her the way you tolerate yourself: the literary sad girl. For the last few years, she’s been the avatar of contemporary literature in English – writers from Sally Rooney to Raven Leilani have rendered vivid and moving portraits of women cycling through uncertain periods of their lives, exploring their complex relationships with sex, their own bodies and other people. 

We’re sensing a movement away from the sad girl and towards the party girl, who certainly experiences some of the same emotions as the sad girl, but places her emphasis on having a good time: She drinks margaritas like water, rides on the back of motorcycles, and her favourite food is oysters with hot sauce. Represented in literary culture by Marlowe Granados’s 2021 debut Happy Hour, and conjured to the forefront due to the recent passing of LA’s foremost hedonist chronicler Eve Babitz, the party girl – and glamour in literature more generally – is due for a comeback, bringing with them, as Eloise Hendy puts it for Elephant magazine: “Pleasure as a means, and then a means again with no ends in sight.”

The new Crocs are… Vibram toe shoes

Crocs were the breakout hit of 2021, and they might be followed in 2022 by their even uglier cousins, the Vibram toe shoe. Conceived as a similarly practical item but given a new life as the must-have item among fashion people who post pictures of bins on Instagram, Vibram shoes have been hovering on the outside of the mainstream after a year or two of serving as inspiration for Balenciaga, but this might finally be their breakthrough year. People are constantly trying to outdo each other on Instagram, and these hideous things are exactly the type of item that the ugly-clothes-on-purpose, Times New Roman slogans on t-shirts heads will soon be embracing en masse. 

The new streetwear is…. metawear 

Of course, no roundup of future trends would be complete without a consideration of the metaverse. “Forget your IRL fit and check your metacloset: In 2022, we’re wearing digital fashion,” Yallop predicts. “Thanks to apps like DressX and influencers like @thisoutfitdoesnotexist, virtual wardrobes will be more accessible than ever.” Here’s hoping you look better in the metaverse than you do when you’ve rolled out of bed half an hour before a meeting.