As this year winds down we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2017 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies and more.
It’s that time of year again. The intersection of streetwear, fashion and sneakers — the Highsnobiety “sweet spot” — has evolved in a million different ways this year, just like it always does.
Men’s style used to be slow, traditional and focused on quality, but nowadays it’s moving in the direction of womenswear — faster, trendier, cheaper. We live in an age of instant gratification, and that, combined with the fact that this space is the biggest it’s ever been, means that brands, trends and pieces can live and die in a heartbeat. The second something’s in, it’s all over Instagram and then it’s gone (pour one out for the IKEA craze, which lived and died in the course of, like, a month).
So, let’s take a look at the biggest fads and crazes of the past 365 days, and gaze into the Highsnobiety crystal ball to see which ones will have some staying power, and which ones will RIP next year.
These were the 10 biggest fashion trends of 2017:
Designers Memed Their Way to the Top
Social media has completely transformed the way we communicate, but you knew that already. What was different about this year, though, was that designers started really leveraging internet culture for their own ends. The guys who really got social media — Vetements/Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele and OFF-WHITE’s Virgil Abloh — were the ones who dominated the conversation (and shoppers’ wallets) this year. That’s not a coincidence.
Demna’s ultra-ironic sense of humor and razor-sharp understanding of how we communicate in the smartphone age has seen the once-unknown designer become the leading figure in the industry. This year, his Balenciaga runways had bright pink crocs, kids’ clothing, mountain bikes, shopping bags (more on those later) and comically oversized sneakers (again, we’ll come to those in a bit), as well as shout-outs to Bernie Sanders and Balenciaga’s corporate holding company, Kering.
His own label, meanwhile, has made astronomical prices its calling card. There is nothing special about the construction of Vetements’ $900 Reebok sneakers or $85 socks, but their outrageous price tags mean that everyone writes about them. It was a pretty quiet year for Vetements, considering that it basically took over the world in 2016, but the brand consolidated to a new HQ in Zurich, trolled Hong Kong with an airport pop-up, and announced a shit-ton of collabs for next season, so we will no doubt be seeing a lot of Demna in 2018.
Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, meanwhile, actually made his own memes for the house’s “#TFWGucci” watch campaign at the beginning of the year, which was created in partnership with a bunch of internet pranksters. Alessandro’s vision of the house is one giant remix — he collides eras, styles and cultures in a way that’s very internet, and very 2017. Gucci’s actual products have been designed to cause maximum damage on the ’Gram, too — like faux-bootleg “Rhyton” sneakers, $270 sweatbands and pre-scribbled logo tees.
Then there was the supposed controversy surrounding Gucci’s “homage” to Dapper Dan’s OG bootleg pieces, which looked like a paper-thin attempt at grabbing headlines when it emerged a few months later that the two would actually be collaborating. The copycat allegations came thick and fast for Michele this year — who was accused of plagiarizing at least three separate designers this year.
Virgil Abloh was also inescapable this year. His blockbuster Nike collab, DIY Louis Vuitton straps, must-have construction belts and zip-tied products provided plenty of fodder for the blogs and the ’Gram, but it was his near-constant use of quote marks that showed he really gets how things work these days. By putting everything and anything inside quote marks, Abloh adds a layer of irony to his work, and anyone who follows even one meme account knows that irony is the default way of expressing yourself online. Indeed, Virgil gets the zeitgeist so much that we’re all pretty surprised he’s not been hired by a fashion house — despite the unfulfilled rumors linking him with Givenchy, then Versace.
Abloh’s use of the internet extended way beyond his collections, though. He gave freely-viewable lectures at Harvard and Columbia universities, as well as the “OFF-CAMPUS” event which featured more free-to-stream talks and panels. No matter what you think of the guy’s work, you can’t fault his commitment to inspiring and engaging with young people.
Less successfully, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri used the runway for shareable feminist statements — her SS18 show in September featured a top asking, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (an essay by art historian Linda Nochlin). A$AP Rocky also wore one of Chiuri’s feminist tees — this time stating “We Should All Be Feminists” (named after Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay). Rocky’s support for the cause was, unsurprisingly, seen as more than a little problematic. While Chiuri’s statements were admirable in their intention and raised very valid points about woman’s status in modern society, they didn’t set the world on fire in the same way that Demna, Alessandro and Virgil did.
Designers have been courting controversy since forever, but what separated 2017’s designer memes was that the clicks, op-eds and hate comments weren’t a side-effect of a designer’s vision, they were the entire point. When Rick Owens puts step dancers or dicks on the runway, he’s doing it to make a statement. Demna’s Balenciaga Crocs, in contrast, are provocative just for the sake of it. For a more thorough critique of fashion’s love of meme culture, read Alex Rakestraw’s Let’s Stop Pretending Balenciaga’s Meme-Bait Is Cool.
Crystal Ball Says: In the smartphone era, you can’t just release a collection and hope people will still care six months later — you need to be always on, and that’s a lot easier when you’re producing what social media professionals call “sharable moments.” Everyone wants, no, needs, their work to go viral these days, so unless people somehow stop using the internet in 2018 (lol), this trend isn’t going anywhere.
Puffer Jackets Blew Up
Every fall, the industry switches up its cold-weather collections, and a new outerwear piece is declared the season’s “must-have” (how else will you get people to buy new coats?). The past few winters have seen shearlings, topcoats and leather bikers all fall in and out of favor, but for 2017, the puffer jacket was the move.
Cozy thanks to their down-filled linings, puffers have been a streetwear favorite for decades, and the foundation of collections by outerwear experts like Moncler, Stone Island and The North Face. The jacket found trending status in 2017 thanks to grail-worthy versions by Balenciaga and Supreme’s Stone Island and The North Face collabs. Vetements, never one to play by the rules, turned its puffer jackets into wearable sleeping bags, while Moncler decided to make some dog-sized ones for people who have $450 to spend on their pet’s clothes, while The North Face rolled out the red carpet for its flagship Nuptse jacket.
Notable puffer moments included A$AP Rocky’s red-and-orange NYFW combo and Vic Mensa’s kaleidoscopic ’90s-flavored number from Faith Connexion, while both Drake and Rocky wore confusingly short-sleeved puffers (don’t your arms get cold?) in a bright yellow color that looked like life vests were the newest trend in rap style.
Peak Puffer™ came via Skepta, though, when the London MC posed for a quick snap in one of Moncler x Craig Green’s insane Michelin Man two-piece creations, as if wearing a puffer jacket with puffer trousers was the most normal thing in the world. He didn’t even put his coffee down. Glorious.
The jacket wasn’t just popular in high-end and rap scenes. The puffer appeared at basically every shop this year, and for good reason: like all commercial trends, it was a smash hit because you could throw it over anything, and it was available at every price point imaginable.
Crystal Ball Says: Like the souvenir jacket of 2016, the puffer will probably have been replaced by something else next year (Peacoats? Duffels? Sailing jackets?). That won’t have stopped it from being dope though, so think twice before you throw your jacket out for something else in 2018.
Ugly-Cool Sneakers Trended Hard
Assaulting the general public with visually-jarring footwear is nothing new — just ask Rick and Raf — but 2017 was the year the ugly-cool sneaker trend went turbo this year, with tons of beautiful eyesores hitting the streets.
Honorable mentions include OAMC’s Tactical Sneaker, Eytys’s Angel, Vetements x Reebok and Acne Studios’ Sofiane, who all produced ugly-cool shoes that had sneakerheads and the fashion week crowd frothing with equal measure. Salomon won extra points, not just for its dope Boris Bidjan Saberi collab, but for the fact that you can actually run up mountains in its shoes. Meanwhile, Kanye’s hysteria-inducing line of adidas sneakers got a lil bit trendier, and a whole lot chunkier, with the 700 Wave Runner.
The hijinks don’t come close to Balenciaga’s outrageous Triple S creation, though. The Parisian couture house caused a sneakerhead earthquake when it debuted its insane luxury runners that had not one, but three soles stacked on top of each other, mile-long laces and pre-worn uppers. The shoe proved irresistible for hype kids who threw their wallets at the $720 monstrosities when they dropped in September. “This is the most trendy sneaker” frothed cash-rich Instagrammers after they dropped a month’s rent on Demna Gvasalia’s latest runway meme.
Away from the runway, the big sportswear giants got in on the action, too. “People are gravitating more towards chunky sneakers as minimalist shoes like Stan Smiths and Common Projects fall out of favor” explains Highsnobiety Sneaker Editor Chris Danforth. “The chunky sneaker category was also pushed forward by certain ‘90s basketball silhouettes that came back in 2017 like the Nike Air More Uptempo or Kith’s Nike Air Pippen 1 collaboration.”
Crystal Ball Says: Footwear trends come and go (remember the Roshe Run?), so those $780 meme shoes might not be worth quite as much when 2019 rolls around. Given that bad taste and retina-scarring aesthetics are so dominant right now, there’s probably a bit of longevity left to this one, and even if the trend does die, that won’t stop shoes like Raf’s Ozweegos and Rick Owens’ springblades from being gloriously monstrous bangers.
…and so Did Vans
Footwear monstrosities might have been all the rage with hardcore style heads, but the sneaker that really hit the mainstream — 2017’s Roshe (RIP) — was the Vans Old-Skool. Unusual given that it’s been around for as long as time itself, the skate icon achieved “mall shoe” status this year thanks to co-signs from all the usual mega-influencers — A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, the Biebs, the Jenners, the Kardashians, you name it.
Filthy rich celebrities have been wanting to dress like skaters for years, so I suppose this one was hardly surprising, but the shoe trended hard thanks to collabs from Patta, JJJJound, Dover Street Market and Alyx Studios (whose shoe actually arrived with Vans’s original moniker of Style 36). This flame-adorned general release version, meanwhile, hit a double whammy of availability and nostalgic ’00s vibes.
Cheap, simple and with an easy-to-scribble-on upper, the Old-Skool was the perfect canvas to beat up, customize and generally mistreat, which slots right in with rap and streetwear’s obsession with all things scruffy. Much like the puffer jacket, this one went turbo cos literally anyone could get their hands on a pair.
“Just like the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star or the Nike Air Force 1, the Vans Old Skool is basically impervious to changing trends or fads, which helps it cycle through demographics as different groups are either discovering it for the first time, or re-experiencing it” explains Highsnobiety Sneaker Editor Chris Danforth.
Crystal Ball Says: The mega-rich mega-basics will move onto something else this time next year, but that won’t stop the Old-Skool from being a timeless shoe. In fact, it’ll be even better once the Jenner and Bieber association has worn off.
Side Stripe Trousers Were Big
Remember last year’s ripped jeans craze? Well, shredded denim was still around in 2016, but the new trouser of choice for filthy rich rappers and people making fast fashion knockoffs was the side-striped track pant.
Maybe it’s a side-effect of the adidas fever that’s gripped the world, or just because they look so good, but the streets and the ’Gram were awash with side-striped trackies this year. Palm Angels’ purple bangers and Needles’ A$AP-endorsed numbers were a big hit with the rap crowd, while Gucci produced some predictably retina-scarring trackies, and some much tamer (although still obnoxiously expensive) side-stripe chinos. Balenciaga even had stripes running down its jeans.
Special shout-out to Jerry Lorenzo, who had his Fear Of God track pants ripped off left, right and centre: not just by fast fashion labels, but by a new crop of streetwear brands that are building their entire businesses around replica products. The extra-long drawstring, dramatically tapered cut and zippered pockets found on Lorenzo’s designs, were all shamelessly replicated by copycat brands like dsrcv, NDG Studio and Represent.
The OG Fear Of God joints cost the best part of a grand, so I suppose that’s to be expected — it can’t hurt that Lorenzo’s work was thrust into the spotlight again when he designed a bright yellow two-piece for Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. tour wardrobe.
Again, like the puffer, this one hit the mainstream because fast fashion copycats were quick to jump on the trend with affordable versions of their own. At the wallet-friendly end of the spectrum, adidas, H&M and Zara had plenty of stripey offerings, as usual.
Crystal Ball Says: Like the puffer jacket, we’d advise keeping your side-stripe bangers stashed away for a while. Their sporty fabrics, relaxed cut and flattering side-stripe are a no-brainer for casual outfits. Sure, they might not be hashtag-trending this time next year, but that won’t stop them from being a worthy addition to your wardrobe.
…So Were Sidebags
Fanny pack, side bag, bum bag, whatever you wanna call it, the shoulder-slung man bag was a smash hit this year. Highsnobiety‘s Berlin team has been espousing the joys of the sidebag for a while now — it’s been a common sight on European street corners for years — but 2017 was the year the pack finally caught on overseas.
Handy for stashing all your essentials without ruining your silhouette with bulging pockets, man bags were all the rage with streetwear kids, fashion week types and rappers, with all the usual suspects plastering their logos over bags of various sizes and prices (Gucci one-upped the competition with a triple pack of bags, as if one $1,000+ bag wasn’t enough).
A$AP Rocky didn’t take much convincing, and was spotted stashing his essentials in Gucci, Balenciaga and Goyard numbers, while Jaiden Smith actually wore his Sup x LV pack to the British GQ Awards like it’s nothing (jokes). Side bags were also a must at fashion week, popping up and popping off in our street style reports from Oslo, Paris and New York, as well as the mile-long lineups on Supreme drop day.
Crystal Ball Says: The sidebag may have felt painfully trendy this year, but it’ll have some staying power cos it’s just so useful. The man bag is a no-brainer for stashing a day’s essentials — say sunglasses, phone, wallet, keys, maybe a battery pack — without disrupting the lines of your fit. This is especially true in summer, when pocket space is hard to come by.
Workwear was all the rage back in the late ’00s, when #menswear ruled the roost and guys aspired to dress like 19th-century railroad workers. Back then, the moves of choice were chore coats, Red Wing boots and raw denim as stiff as a railway track. If #menswear’s style icons were blue-collar lumberjack types (that actually made flat whites for a living), 2017’s interpretation of workplace uniforms looked to corporate cubicle lurkers — the sort of guys that analyze spreadsheets for double glazing manufacturers.
Again, Demna Gvasalia led the way with this one. Since Demna took over Balenciaga, his menswear shows for the Parisian house have revolved around stiff, broad-shouldered silhouettes and onslaughts of grey tailoring, with corporate logos thrown in for the lols (shouting out Balenciaga’s holding company, Kering, was pure genius). Demna’s fascination with white-collar dads has seen the house revamp its runway shows, campaigns and flagship stores with dreary, suffocating onslaughts of gray.
Gosha Rubchinskiy’s FW17 collection revolved around a hefty sportswear collab with adidas Football, but the Moscow designer also recreated various management types as part of his imaginary football team, via double-breasted tailoring, pinstripes, and poplin shirting worn with ties. Prada and Dries Van Noten also dabbled with stuffy dad-wear, although to date no rapper has dared to flex a tie IRL — yet.
High-end designers might have been big into office vibes this year, but the thriving luxe-street guys have been playing with construction worker motifs for a while now. Virgil Abloh has made construction clips one of OFF-WHITE’s calling cards, and his old DONDA buddy Heron Preston is straight-up fascinated by the everyday worker. Last year, Heron honored NY sanitation workers with his DSNY project, and the garbage man’s hi-vis fabrics and reflective stripes made their way into Preston’s debut menswear collection, too.
Big up Heron for honoring the everyday struggle in a world where streetwear is being invaded by filthy rich teens and global corporations.
Virgil and Heron’s old boss, Mr. Kanye West, was on the construction tip way back in April of last year, just BTW.
Crystal Ball Says: The nu-workwear wave might not last forever, but fashion has been fascinated with everyday life for ages, and that’s not likely to end anytime soon. Speaking of which…
IKEA Was a Thing
Fashion’s fixation with all things humble and everyday intensified at the beginning of the year when Demna Gvasalia unveiled Balenciaga’s $2,000 tribute to IKEA’s $0.99 “Frakta” shopping bag. The Vetements and Balenciaga designer has also made luxe imitations of asian laundry bags and cardboard shopping totes, but his version of the furniture giant’s bright blue carry-all kickstarted a mini-craze all of its own when it dropped later in the year.
The bag was, as is the case with anything Gvasalia touches, divisive, and widely dissected in commentary and thinkpieces across the fashion press. Shortly after Balenciaga’s two-grand bag hit the shelves, IKEA clapped back with its own campaign mocking the house’s extortionate tribute to the $0.99 tote. All that fuss then kickstarted a wave of copycats who took Demna’s homage one step further and actually chopped up Fraktas and turned them into garments.
Chinatown Market and Pleasures got a headstart on the competition in May, with some caps that dropped a week after IKEA’s comeback campaign. The floodgates soon opened, and the internet was awash with IKEA face masks, Air Force 1s, Jordans, camera straps, imitations of Balenciaga’s “Speed Trainer” sneakers, hoodies and, err, thongs.
When the hysteria finally, mercifully died, Demna’s brother Guram revealed that Vetements had actually been working on an IKEA collab at the beginning of the year, but scrapped it — further proving that the Gvasalia brothers are basically fashion’s puppet masters right now.
Crystal Ball Says: Dead, dead, dead. Virgil’s OFF-WHITE carpets might still be in the pipeline, but all the Frakta creations that designers rushed out are now gathering dust, having fulfilled their only purpose — to get double-taps on the ’Gram. It started in May, and didn’t even make it to the end of the year — pour one out for 2017’s IKEA craze.
Yellow Was the New Black (it Was the New Orange, Too)
Just like fabrics and jackets, colors cycle in and out of favor with trend-hungry fashionistas. Last year, traffic-cone orange entered the stratosphere, while 2015 was the year “millennial pink” became a thing people actually said IRL. Before that, it was all about washed-out, sandy tones, and the less said about 2013’s all-black-everything craze, the better. This year it was yellow’s time to shine, though, and the color got trending status thanks to Supreme’s never-not-hyped The North Face collab and Fear Of God’s aforementioned Kendrick Lamar tracksuit.
While those two were a straightforward case of bold, bumblebee yellow, the more interesting — and trendy — version of the color came in a toxic-waste-y version that’s since been dubbed “frozen” yellow. As is so often the case in men’s style, you can trace this one back to Kanye, who has been toying with acidic yellow since YEEZY Season 3. Kanye’s infatuation with the color got so intense that at the tail end of 2016, he actually put the color in his hair.
This year, though, neon yellows popped up all over the place — Palace x adidas, Kanye’s Calabasas zine and YEEZY Boost 350 sneakers, Our Legacy FW17, SOPHNET. x Burton, Balenciaga’s meme-bait Crocs and even the FW17 rendition of Supreme’s beyond-hyped Box Logo hoodie.
Crystal Ball Says: Like we said, colors come in and out of style, so we imagine that this time next year we’ll be singing the praises of something else (maybe it’ll be burgundy, another Kanye-endorsed hue).
Corduroy Came Back
In an age ruled by all things sporty and street, corduroy doesn’t seem like the most obvious fabric to rage in 2017, but rage it did, as streetwear OGs and luxury houses both revitalized the fusty dad textile. Streetwear veterans like Stüssy, Patta, Supreme and Palace have been using cord for ages, but the stuff got fashion points when Vetements and Acne Studios used it in their weirdo articulated trousers and paneled sneakers.
Speaking of sneakers, cord popped up on a lot of feet this year. Round Two Hollywood founder Sean Wotherspoon celebrated Air Max Day with a bizarrely cord-splattered take on Nike’s retrofuturist icon, the Air Max 97, while Aleali May’s Jordan collab and A$AP Nast’s Converse One Star also gave cord an injection of street cred.
With the fashion crowd, cord popped up in collections from Our Legacy, Prada and Dries Van Noten. Back in August, a dedicated corduroy launched with a brave roll-out of global flagships. The Cords & Co claims to be the world’s first premium corduroy brand — good news for cord fans and their dads, then.
Crystal Ball Says: Cord has been around since basically forever (well, the 18th century, according to Wiki), and is a long-established member of the menswear dictionary, so it’s safe to say this isn’t 2017’s answer to Neoprene (RIP, pour one out). Librarians, dads and streetwear fans, rejoice.
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- Main & Featured Image: Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety