2020 has been a cataclysmic year. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus a pandemic on 11 March, Black Lives Matter protests erupted globally following the murder of George Floyd by an American police officer on May 25, and Joe Biden defeated Trump in the November 2020 election, meaning he will become the 46th president of the United States.
How have these landmark social, political and health-related events affected the way we dress? For a start, female politicians such as US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are exerting signifcant influence on fashion trends, with searches for 'white pantsuit' and 'Telfar shopping bag' going through the roof following Harris' victory speech and AOC's endorsement of the cult accessory on Instagram. Then there's the rise of the face mask, with Gucci variations proving most popular following a red carpet endorsement from Billie Eilish. Now that we're all WFH, loungewear has become synonymous with the pandemic, with joggers and leggings triumphing as a symptom of waist-up priority dressing for Zoom meetings.
Below, we chart the biggest fashion moments of 2020 courtesy of Lyst’s Year in Fashion report:
As a result of the worldwide BLM protests beginning in May, fashion as activism came into its own in 2020. Buying from Black-owned businesses became a long-overdue priority, while political slogan T-shirts also made a comeback. Politicians' fashion choices also held increasing sway over fashion trends: there was Michelle Obama's subtle gold 'vote' necklace at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Kamala Harris' white pantsuit, worn during her empowering victory speech, and of course, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who endorsed the Telfar 'Bushwick Birkin' on Instagram and wore a red suit in a viral speech on sexism within U.S. Congress. Harris' choice of a white pantsuit was of particular feminist significance as a colour uniformly worn by the Suffragettes, while her pussy bow blouse nodded to the 2017 Women's March following Trump's inauguration.
After Jennifer Aniston wore a Spring/Summer 1999 Christian Dior by John Galliano gown at the 2020 SAG Awards in January, there was a 40% spike in searches for vintage dresses in the 48 hours following her appearance on the red carpet. Secondhand fashion gained traction throughout 2020, with brides-to-be searching for pre-owned wedding dresses after Princess Beatrice wore a vintage gown on loan from the Queen for her own wedding in July, causing searches for 'vintage wedding dress' to spike 297% in the 48 hours following the royal wedding.
Celebrity Fashion Moments
Rihanna was the first to ever wear a durag on the cover of British Vogue in May 2020, with contributing editor Funmi Fetto writing, 'The tainted fabric has been reclaimed as a symbol of black beauty, a signifier of style worn on the streets, the catwalk, the red carpet...and now the cover of Vogue.' Durags were originally functional garments worn by African American women labourers and slaves in the 19th century, later evolving into a fashion statement in the 90s popularised by hip-hop musicians such as Jay Z, Cam'ron and 50 Cent. The custom durag Rihanna wore on the cover of Vogue, created by legendary milliner Stephen Jones, caused searches for 'durag' to surge in the months following May.
Following celebrity endorsements from Dua Lipa, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez, it was Beyoncé wearing a full Marine Serre moon print catsuit in Black Is King that caused searches to jump 426% in only 48 hours.
Billie Eilish won five awards at the 2020 Grammys, yet it was her outfit that seemed to garner the most attention. Matching the colour of her black hair and slime green roots, Eilish wore a head-to-toe Gucci look with a sheer black face mask printed with the brand's monogram in gold. The look sparked a 242% jump in searches for Gucci face masks in just 24 hours.
2020 has proved that popular culture has the ability to influence fashion trends more than ever, as media and entertainment become essential transportive mediums during the ongoing global pandemic. Celebrities like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Billie Eilish are driving consumer habits in this new digital landscape, as are music videos like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's WAP and television series like Emily in Paris.
Take a look at the Lyst Year In Fashion Report here.