Life as we knew it may never be the same post-pandemic, but in some ways, things finally feel sort of normal again. In-person events are back in full force, people are traveling more than ever, and the days when we thought we were done with heels are long gone. In fact, in stark contrast to the pandemic-era house shoes, one of the biggest shoe trends to emerge this year was sky-high platforms. People are ready to shop for things to see and be seen in.
Despite the ever-present concerns about the economy and the sharply rising prices due to inflation, luxury shopping has had a banner year. The strength of the U.S. dollar certainly hasn’t hurt. To provide a bit of context Business of Fashion recently reported, “The U.S. saw strong double-digit growth this semester, with luxury brands expanding their footprint beyond the traditional American mainstays of New York and California to Southern cities, such as Atlanta and Austin. The big luxury groups have reported significantly more sales growth over pre-pandemic levels in the U.S. than in other regions.” Given that, the million-dollar question is what luxury brands are people buying?
For Who What Wear’s annual Luxury Report, our team of editors put our heads together and settled on five designer brands that have made the biggest impact this year. These brands are all over Instagram and TikTok, have produced plenty of viral It items, and have been worn by a plethora of celebrities around the world. Read on to find out which brands are the most coveted in 2022 and all the reasons why.
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images; @saweetie; Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Name a more successful It shoe this year than Miu Miu’s Ballerinas. I’ll wait. Your likely conclusion is that there isn’t one. Since their release, retailers haven’t been able to keep them in stock and they were a prominent player on the street style scene during fashion month and have been the subject of many Instagram posts. They were also the number one Hottest Product on the most recent Lyst Index, a reliable source of timely luxury shopping information.
Miu Miu has been a clear celebrity favorite this year, with many stand-out moments to choose from, but the most memorable was gifted to us by Rihanna. Not long before giving birth, she stepped out in a modified version of the crystal net set that everyone lost it over when it came down the runway during the brand’s F/W 22 showing. Like the runway model, she layered it over another It item: Miu Miu’s satin underwear set that was made to be seen.
If you’ve been wondering how the ubiquitous micro-miniskirt trend came to be, credit is due to Miu Miu. It sent mini after mini (mostly pleated versions) down its S/S 22 runway and the fashion crowd quickly embraced the trend. Despite its non-practical nature, the micro-mini translated to the real world and practically every brand started slashing inches off of its skirts. The popularity of the skirts even lead to its fair share of memes. Miu Miu has continued to design new takes on the teeny-tiny skirt trend in its subsequent collections, solidifying the longevity of the trend.
If we had to name a handbag that was equal in popularity to Miu Miu Ballerinas in 2022, it would have to be the Balenciaga Cagole bag. The early 2000s-esque bag was inspired by the brand’s City Bag, from the actual early 2000s. The Cagole was so eagerly embraced that Balenciaga was quick to design boots, a mini bag, and sandals to join the Cagole family, and it isn’t stopping there. We’ve spotted pumps, flat mules, and heeled mules recently. Keep ’em coming, Balenciaga.
On the social media front, it’s safe to say that Balenciaga has mastered the world of TikTok. According to social marketing platform Dash Hudson’s 2022 Fashion and Luxury TikTok Benchmarks report, Balenciaga was the top performer in the Large Fashion and Luxury Brands category, and it outperforms the average engagement rate for large fashion brands by 187%. Outside of its own account, Balenciaga draws up plenty of engagement across the TikTok community, with the recreation of the models walking across the mud-covered runway during the S/S 23 show quickly catching on across the platform.
Sometimes runway shows practically break the internet for one reason or another. The show to do so during this summer’s Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week was Balenciaga, thanks to the bevy of non-fashion model celebrities that walked the runway. To name a few, Nicole Kidman, Dua Lipa, Christine Quinn, and Kim Kardashian showed the glamorous collection with the amount of drama it required.
The coveted top spot on the Lyst Index’s Hottest Brands has gone to Gucci for the past two quarters of 2022. Among several noteworthy collaborations, more celebrity endorsements than we can count (both on the red carpet and off), and a number of viral It bags and It shoes, it’s not surprising in the least that Gucci continues to soar, year after year.
One of the buzziest, most covetable collaborations of 2022 was Adidas x Gucci, hands down. Understandably, Gucci’s versions of Adidas’ Samba and Gazelle sneakers were among the first pieces to sell out, and Gucci likely had something to do with the meteoric rise of Adidas soccer sneakers, in general, this year. The retro sensibilities of the two brands proved to be the perfect match.
One of the most talked-about shows of the S/S 23 season was undoubtedly Gucci, as Alessandro Michele chose to show the entire collection on sets of twins (68, to be exact), walking side by side down the runway. The theme of the show was “Asymmetrical reciprocity” and the consensus on social media from the fortunate attendees was that it was incredibly moving. It’s also worth noting that Michele walked this year’s Met Gala runway with his “twin” Jared Leto.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Prada; @natashandlovu; Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Ten years ago if you had told us that a $1000 tank top would be one of the biggest It items ever, we would’ve been very skeptical. But here we are. The popularity of the relatively simple ribbed tank top proves that many people are willing to pay top dollar for that covetable triangle Prada logo. Further proof of its popularity is its placement as the number three Hottest Product on The Lyst Index’s Q3 report. And be on the lookout for the cropped version and a black version soon. The year of the Prada tank top continues.
If a brand has the Kardashian-Jenners on its side, it can rest assured that it’s in a very good place. You may primarily equate the family with Balenciaga, but Prada also emerged as a favorite this year. Kendall Jenner wore Prada to the Met Gala and Kim Kardashian sat front row at the brand’s F/W 22 in its standout leather trench coat. Her trip to Milan and appearance at the show were also the subject of an episode of The Kardashians on Hulu. How’s that for publicity? Not that Prada needs it.
Typically brands have one, maybe two, It bags come to be during a given year, but it’s almost hard to count how many Prada has had. There’s the Triangle Bag, the Supernova, the jewel-encrusted Cleo, the 1995, and the just-released Moon Bag, to name a few. As an example, our contact at Shopstyle told us that searches for the Prada Triangle Bag increased by 100% in October. Basically, if you invest in a Prada bag these days, it’s probably an It bag. According to Bloomberg, we have Gen Z to thank for Prada’s renewed popularity, and its bags are undoubtedly at the forefront.
Jacopo Raule/Getty Images; Peter White/Getty Images; @emilisindlev
The lone brand on this list to be able to stake the claim that it has a Pantone color named after it is Valentino. The color is Pantone Pink PP, with the “PP” standing for the initials of Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli. We never thought anything could replace Valentino’s signature crimson red hue, but the bold fuchsia shade has done so—for now, at least.
We touched on platforms earlier, but let’s talk about a specific pair of platforms that went viral this year: Valentino’s Tan-Go shoes. The towering platform pumps graced the feet of countless celebrities and influencers this year, who often opted to wear them with mini-length hemlines. Nothing will make your outfit look more “2022” than a pair of Pink PP Tan-Gos.
Fact: Celebrities really like Valentino. Its front row has become one of the most star-studded places at Paris Fashion Week, and it counts none other than Zendaya and Lewis Hamilton—two of the most prolific celebrities a fashion brand can have on its side right now—as brand ambassadors. Valentino has long been a red-carpet favorite, but a younger generation has fully embraced the brand this year, making it more relevant than ever.