When the pandemic first hit two years ago, we saw a sudden shift in the way we dress. Even now, it dictates many style trends, putting fashion aesthetics in a funny position—somewhere between relaxed at-home dressing and over-the-top party looks. That said, choosing bright and vibrant colours that offer a dose of optimism is a key rule to stay on-trend. This year, the fashion industry is also adopting a more inclusive approach as more and more brands and people are making a move towards to gender neutral fashion and mindful consumption instead of fast fashion picks
We spoke to both stalwarts and young creatives in the fashion space in India to understand how style trends will take shape and move forward in 2022.
1. Conscious dressing
We have reached a point where it’s ‘now or never’ for the fashion industry to accelerate its action on the climate crisis, overconsumption, and global emissions. Although there have been a few promising steps, trends forecast the development of innovative new materials and technologies and further propelling the circular model of resale in 2022. “Upcycling and rebirth, which include regenerative designs using plant-based techniques and raw materials need to be kept an eye on. The idea of ‘less is better’ will be reflected through handmade and homegrown garments made from recycled materials,” explains Yadvi Agarwal, founder and designer of conscious clothing brand, Yavï.
2. Handloom designs
India, with its rich and diverse history, has given rise to distinct handloom practices that still pave the way for elegant style exchange. In 2021, we saw notable brands bringing an amalgamation of western silhouettes and handloom—redefining it as the epitome of comfort, luxury, and elegant clothing. Eminent designer Archana Jaju, who has brought the heritage of rich woven fabrics and handicrafts in pret-wear shares: “This year, we will see more of an amalgamation of these textiles with power dressing. While western culture has always been a great influence on the younger generation, this year, we shouldn’t completely surrender to following only those trends. Instead, what we should promote is the revival of Indian crafts like Kalamkari, Kanjeevaram, Banarasi, Paithani, and Kota.” Of course, Indian handlooms have been evergreen pieces in our wardrobes rather than fad trends that wither with time.
3. A play on suiting up
Ravi Gupta, creative head of Gargee Designer's—a contemporary menswear label—shares, “The foremost thing that will be in trend is well-fitted clothes.” It is believed that well-tailored clothing will be truly going mainstream this season. Sharp-tailored ensembles from head to toe like crisp blazers, buttoned-up blouses, and equally-polished accessories like chunky work loafers have been gathering steam. Designer Meghna Goyal of the conscious resort wear label, Summer Somewhere agrees. “We’re seeing a lot of structured silhouettes, specifically a play on suiting, on the runway (fashion weeks) and a ton of celebrities have been sporting this look,” she shares.
Pantsuits are what comes to mind when you think of tailored looks, and they happen to be hot-ticket items for 2022 as well. Textile designer Kshitij Jalori shares: “I think pantsuits will be a huge trend statement moving forward. We will be seeing a further adaptation of Indian aesthetics being globalised. Right now, it is a very good time for Indian design to present itself on the global stage and really take the India story forward.” The designer's pantsuits bring a global appeal while being rooted in indigenous crafts. “Indian pantsuits are one to keep an eye out for. They could be quite a hit this year,” Archana adds.
“Do not compromise on stitching, let the sleeves hang loose, or the shoulders be out of place. Also, add more colours and bold patterns to your wardrobe,” shares Ravi. Expect to see all types of blazers and suits—from cropped and leather to plaid and bright colours—in 2022. “For men, this year will bring back memories from the 90s and maximalism will be at its peak,” he adds.
Catsuits—the hybrid version of pantsuits by luxury houses like Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Burberry—worn by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Hailey Beiber in all pop-colour glory is definitely looking at an upsurge too.
4. Androgynous clothing
Fashion’s future is definitely not compartmentalising clothes according to gender. Especially with global stars like Harry Styles, men and women are now pooling pieces from each other’s wardrobes, while sparking conversations around careful consumption. “Gender-fluid attire is supposed to free fashion from binary conventions of the industry. These will not only push society to rethink traditional gender roles but a unisex closet is far more sustainable as the same piece can be worn by anybody,” explains Arnav Malhotra, founder of No Grey Area, a progressive new-age clothing brand.
Moreover, constraining fashion and style to a ‘certain type of people’ has also reached its end. “Unleash social conventions, break barriers, challenge fashion stereotypes, and start conversations about overcoming body shaming and encouraging people to embrace their body,” the design team of Fabindia strongly believes for 2022 and beyond.
5. Statement jewels
When it comes to accessorising, jewellery is always a conversation starter. In the fine jewellery segment, bling is now focused on maximal, poppy-coloured additions that scream old-world glamour with a touch of modern. Binti Arora of Bangalore-based fine jewellery house, Srishti Fine Jewellers, shares: “Women are looking at jewellery with vibrant gemstones like sapphires, emeralds, and rubies inspired by the Victorian era. Well suited for different occasions, rubies are great to revamp your style whether you want to delight the onlookers with your chic, casual look or you want to stand out from the rest during a work event or a social evening.”
If there’s one jewellery piece that refuses to be a fad, it has to be chokers. They are back again, except they are daintier and bolder. The new choker territory would be on top of the charts in 2022 as well. Indian luxury jewellery house, Nornament’s creative director, Pradhyuman Maloo tells: “Choker with personalised embellishments will be the new trend for 2022. People are preferring to again wear something dressy and meaningful with the oncoming uncertainty to feel good and connected.”
While simple daily wear pieces that work for both day and night events will enjoy mainstay attention, classical hoop earrings will make a key statement thanks to their popularity and the versatile wearability factor they bring in. Designer Neha Arora of The Mauve Unit X, a contemporary high-fashion label explains, “A statement hoop can be paired with all kinds of jewellery and also works across the day. A pair of gold statement hoops can be worn with a neckpiece, layered chains or even worn as an individual piece to stand out. This year we think the trend that will continue is contemporary statement hoops.”
6. Brighter and better
Although fashion and the art of dressing up have always been about uplifting your spirits, it’s beautiful how this is shaping up to be a serious ‘trend’ now. For ages, it has been said that the colour of your clothes always has a direct impact on your psychological well-being. “Spotlight-stealing attire with a joyous mood courtesy of vivid colours and prints and bold silhouettes is going to be so in this season,” designer Akanksha Chhabra of Pastels and Pop, a handcrafted jutti brand, affirms. “Pairing multiple unexpected hues together to create a colour clash is the best way to make your outfits pop. Whether you are opting for an athleisure look or going to a party, bold colour combinations are the way to go.”
Designer Ravi advises: “Since this year is about embracing your colourful side, plain silhouettes and outfits are going to be a no-no. Do not play safe and choose basic options this year. Go wild with experimenting!”
Not just attires, eye-popping hues will make their way in the footwear segment too. “I believe the biggest trend for 2022 will be vibrant colours with a touch of comfort. The latest footwear trend would be wearing block heels for support and comfort in vibrant colours like mango sorbet, lilac, and fuchsia. You will find heels fused with cushioned soles for maximum comfort and are embellished with straps, chains etc. for a fashion-forward look,” shares Veena Ashiya, founder of celebrity-favourite footwear brand, Monrow.
7. Functional clothing
The pandemic has also signalled that dressing needs to be fuss-free, light, and carefree than ever before. While some designers predicted that 2022 will give way to bold yet tailored dressing, others are of the view that flowing, oversized silhouettes aren't going anywhere anytime soon. “This year will all be about opting for relaxed fabrics defined by sustainability over structured garments. Cosy lounge pieces will take you through the day with absolute charm and ease,” shares the team at Fabindia.
In the current world of the never-ending pandemic, it goes without saying that comfort and functional clothing has become an essential part of our wardrobe. “Considering the current world scenario, dressing to impress isn't in vogue anymore—one needs to wear something to feel good and comfortable. A transitional shift of lifestyle also leads to a light, care-free clothing range which is both relaxed and comfortable at the same time,” tells Deepak Shah of handmade clothing brand, November Noon.
Be it, supermodels, in their off-duty paparazzi photos or runway leads from Fendi, Peter Do—a flowing, oversized upper with equally flowing, oversized trousers have caught the attention of many fashion enthusiasts. Explaining its versatility and wearability, Deepak says, “An oversized shirt is one separate that should become essential in the coming season. It is a very versatile piece of cloth that can come under various categories whether formal, semi-formal, or casual. It can be paired with formal trousers or even casual ripped denim depending upon the personal style of the wearer. Wear it to work, a casual lunch, or even dinner—a multifunctional ensemble never fails to make a style statement.”
8. Cool bags
The good thing about investing in statement bags is that they aren’t as transient as compared to ready-to-wear that keep changing as per the season and weather. Essentially, they are a must-have given that our list of necessities keeps increasing from phones to sanitisers. However, certain bags are in the limelight, enjoying the ‘it’ status.
Mohit Jain, founder of the homegrown handbag label, Miraggio brings trends for 2022 to the light. He says: “The coming season will all be about crossbody bags, mini bags and most importantly uber-cool puffer bags. These puffer bags will remain in vogue for a long period of time because they serve as a perfect statement accessory and balance out style and utility factor very smoothly. The other cool street style bags with bolder structures, knots, puffy handles, straps, and chunky chains are here to stay. Shades of powder blue, blush pink, and mint will take the centre stage.”
From international runway trends ushered in by Bottega Veneta and Gucci to Instagram-it girls, handbags having a versatile design that you can style with your favourite cocktail dress or even your edgy casual attire are preferred more. “My advice is to buy a solid colour that complements the other items in your wardrobe. Moreover, I think camera bags and wristlets are some bag trends that we should not be seeing in 2022 because the fashion cycle for these bags has reached the ‘fad’ stage now,” he adds.
Trends that will end in 2022.
1. Bling ring!
Jewellery designer Pradhyuman Maloo says: “Big chandelier earrings don't seem to be trending in 2022. The reason is that people are getting back to work from home with the surge in the ongoing pandemic. They want to feel at ease and not have the weight of big chandelier earrings.” Simple jewellery is at its peak. Neha agrees too, “Gone are those days that everything had to be chunky and blingy.”
2. Fast fashion
Industry people are hopeful that there would be a further decline in fast fashion in 2022. With sustainable fashion becoming more prominent as the days go by, there's little room left for unethical practices and garments, accessories that won't stand the test of time. “The simplest advice to reduce your carbon footprint is to go for quality over quantity—only buy shoes or clothes that you absolutely love or invest in styles that are multi-coloured and can be paired with a multitude of outfits,” Akanksha shares.
The pandemic has offered us a moment to pause and explore the idea of ‘less is better.’ Yadvi adds: “Fast fashion has caught us all in an absurd circle of micro trends. The trend of changing outfits constantly and disposable clothes that stay in the wardrobe forever, out of which some are worn once while others are left unworn, need to fade away soon.”
3. Hype fashion
What mostly drives the need to explore mindless consumption is the unnecessary build-up to buy another collection or clothing seen on influencers and celebrities. “With everyone locked in their homes with the ongoing pandemic and glued to Instagram, I hope we don’t see ‘hype fashion’ carrying forward,” Arnav hopes. “FOMO-driven purchases lead everyone to buy the same thing and this further leads to the destruction of individual personality and not letting your satirical expression speak your personality.”