The fashion industry is in a state of constant evolution, and predicting the changing tastes of consumers has always been one of the greatest challenges facing brands and retailers in the space. Missing the mark on a fashion trend might mean missing out on a significant portion of sales and revenue for an entire season. In an effort to reduce some of that risk, we examined four years of Google search data to identify four key emerging fashion trends we expect to dominate 2022.
Our Emerging Trends offering includes U.S. searches around the broad clothing category, with the top and rising search keywords that relate to their respective topic. The data we reference reflect a two-year growth period to show which brands have staying power. The nuances our research uncovered within each emerging trend will help better understand what searches are driving these increases.
Everything old is new again
The resurgence of old trends is an inevitable part of fashion. However, we now see trends from multiple decades coming together as staple fashion items for 2022. Styles from the 17th century going through the 70s, 80s, and early 2000s are merging together. Puff sleeves, popularized in the 80s, for example, saw a growth rate of +145% in the last 24 months. Other pieces on the rise include ‘wrangler bell bottoms’ (+610%), ‘satin midi slip dresses’ (+114%), and ‘faux leather pants’ (+99%).
One area that has gained popularity is the search for ‘mens cargo pants,’ with a growth rate of +134%. It is likely that women are leading these searches as they start to utilize menswear for specific pant styles. Vogue recently revealed in their celebrity style article, that women are styling men's jeans to create the perfect loose jean outfit. Julia Fox and Rihanna are among some of the celebrities seen sporting this look.
Searches for contractor pant brands like Dickies (+122%) and Carhart (+107) have also been on the rise, as the 90s staples make a return. These styles have recently been worn by high fashion icons like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski.
The Millennial and Gen Z debate between’ skinny jeans’ and ‘straight/wide leg jeans’ has been a hot topic for the past year. However, searches show interest for ‘skinny jeans’ has decreased by -6% while ‘straight leg’ have seen a +96% increase. Gen Z has coined the term “cheugy” to describe those who fail to follow new fashion trends, and skinny jeans fall into that undesirable category. This trend of a looser fit further follows the resurfacing of 90s and early 2000s fashion.
Brand acceptance of body positivity
The body positivity movement has established itself as a way to encourage people and brands to realize the importance of accepting all body types. Plus-size fashion-related searches have seen an increase with fast-fashion specific keywords like ‘shein plus size,’ which generated 45.6k average monthly searches in the last 24 months, and ‘pretty little thing plus size’ with 3.8k average monthly searches. Purchasing from fast-fashion brands is oftentimes the only option for plus-size consumers given that very few mainstream brands cater to sizes beyond 14.
Recently, influencers have used their platforms to call brands out for their lack of size inclusivity. Remi Bader, a popular TikTok star with over 2.1 million followers, has generated buzz with her realistic try-on hauls of popular brands. With her social media success, brands like Revolve and Victoria's Secret have partnered with her to create a more inclusive line for plus-size consumers.
Office wear is everyday fashion
The use of office wear is not exclusive to office life anymore. Consumers have now integrated pieces like ‘trousers’ with 55.8k average monthly searches, and’ blazers’ with 118k average monthly searches, into their everyday wardrobes. More specifically, ‘womens trouser’ searches have been on the rise and show a +54% increase. Styling these pieces is where the fun happens for consumers as they experiment with colors, fit, and mix-matching with other clothing styles.
Fast fashion awareness
The term ‘fast fashion’ has been on the rise with over 28.4k average monthly searches as countless brands emerge. However, this awareness leans more negatively and likely credited to consumer knowledge around the underpaid wages, working conditions, and environmental impact of the industry. Searches related to fast fashion often include brand names within the search, such as “is asos fast fashion” or “is zara fast fashion.” Searches such as “why is fast fashion bad” and “fast fashion pollution” further support consumer awareness around the negative reputation of this industry.
With search terms relating to thrifting on the rise, there could be a promising way to combat negative sentiments around fast fashion. “Thrift store near me” has generated 1.8 million average monthly searches. Along with this, peer-to-peer social ecommerce brands have become increasingly popular with search increases for brands like Depop(+126%) and Mercari (+113%).
Shein is outperforming competitors in the fast fashion industry with a vast increase in searches starting in 2020. This abrupt increase in searches could be accredited to the simultaneous rise of social platform TikTok, as creators upload Shein hauls and collaborations.
With the success of the tried and true platform Poshmark leading in searches, newer peer-to-peer ecommerce platforms enter the space. Mercari, a newer platform, shows steady increases in search since 2020 as it approaches Poshmark. It is important to note that while Shein is unparalleled in searches, these non-fast fashion brands are competitive with others outside their category.
As the fashion industry continues to be ever-changing, search data is a valuable way to stay on top of these emerging and declining trends. In 2022, the ability to combine trends from previous decades shows that the industry has no bounds to what can happen next. The increased awareness around body positivity will surge as brands start to listen and accommodate plus size consumers. Office wear will start to become more casual as they integrate with day-to-day clothing items. Although fast fashion is on the rise, peer-to-peer ecommerce and thrifting show promise in being able to take on the growing industry.