The 16 Biggest Fashion News Stories of 2022

The 16 Biggest Fashion News Stories of 2022

Catch up on the most talked-about headlines of the year.

In fashion, the top headlines of 2022 were brimming with excitement and chaos.

Scandals swept Balenciaga and any brand associated with the artist formerly known as Kanye West. Legislation offered a new pathway for sustainability in fashion. A new guard of creatives took the helm at some of the world’s most stories houses, while a recession loomed over the whole industry.

Ever since the pandemic struck in 2020, the years have felt as though they’ve all bled together. That’s certainly true for fashion news — so, we’re recapping the biggest headlines in the industry from 2022, from the biggest controversies to the most notable moments of progress.

Designers Act Amid Russia’s war on Ukraine

The 16 Biggest Fashion News Stories of 2022

Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/Getty Images

In a major escalation of a longstanding conflict, Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, kicking off an intensified war that hasn’t stopped. The fashion industry responded with letters, donations and posts on social media. Vogue Ukraine called designers to action, while Granary — the fashion education platform founded by Ukrainian Central Saint Martins graduate Olya Kuryshchuk — shared an open letter urging the community to condemn Russia.

Groups like LVMH and Kering donated to aid groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), while some brands suspended business in Russia altogether. Meanwhile, designers like Demna took to the runway for messaging against the war (before the brand was embroiled in scandal).

The Kanye problem

<p>Photo: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images

Kanye’s outbursts hit new heights of offensive this year, from sending a “Wh*te Lives Matter” shirt down the runway at his Paris Fashion Week show, to violently coming after a beloved Vogue editor, to making various antisemitic statements to continuing to align himself with white nationalists and former President Donald Trump.

The artist has long faced mental health issues, including being diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a psychiatric emergency in 2016, but his actions in 2022 went too far to be explained by mental illness, many argue. They led to him losing billion-dollar brand deals with Adidas, Balenciaga and Gap, and being removed from the Forbes Billionaire list.

Balenciaga’s scandal(s)

<p>Photo: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

Balenciaga ended the year not with a celebration, but with a series of apologetic statements.

The Kering-owned luxury brand released its Balenciaga Gift Shop campaign on Nov. 16, showing a range of new giftable items from the brand, “staged around children dressed in the Balenciaga Kids line” — however, it soon started trending, with many criticizing the photos showing children next to wine glasses, holding teddy bears in BDSM-reminiscent harnesses.

#BalenciagaGate only got more heat when people turned attention to its Spring 2023 campaign, released just a few days after on Nov. 21. The Joshua Bright-photographed imagery was set in an office, and among a variety of props strewn across a desk, there was a printed copy of the 2008 United States v. Williams decision on child pornography laws. More controversy ensued.

Celebrities distanced themselves from the brand. Customers started destroying their products and calling for a boycott. Lawsuits were filed and pulled. Many apologies were issued. Read our breakdown for more.

A new guard taking over luxury

Ferragamo Spring 2023<p>Photo: Imaxtree</p>
Ferragamo Spring 2023

Photo: Imaxtree

Every era in fashion has had its big names. Now, the industry is moving forward with a new guard of creatives taking seats at the helms of the world’s biggest, most influential houses.

Matthieu Blazy became creative director of Bottega Veneta in 2021, and debuted his first collection for the brand for Fall 2022. Maximilian Davis, a LVMH Prize semifinalist and graduate of the London College of Fashion, joined Ferragamo. Harris Reed arrived at Nina Ricci (and though we haven’t gotten a full collection yet, he has dressed Adele.) Ludovic de Saint Sernin is headed to Ann Demeulemeester.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing some of the most powerful names in fashion step back. Riccardo Tisci showed his final Burberry collection in September, and has been replaced by Daniel Lee. Alessandro Michele, who ushered in a new era of extravagance at Gucci, stepped down in November, after seven years at the helm and two decades at the brand. That month, Raf Simons also announced the closure of his eponymous label after 27 years in business.

André Leon Talley’s passing

<p>Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

André Leon Talley passed away in January 2022 at the age of 73, leaving behind a grand legacy in fashion.

Known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the industry and larger-than-life presence, Talley was creative director and then editor-at-large at Vogue, responsible for some must-read columns that inspired the next generation and becoming one of the first Black editors to reach the top of the masthead.

Raised in the Jim Crow South, Talley detailed his ascension in fashion and the racism he had to work against in his memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches.” He peeled back the curtain with language as entertaining as it is profound, welcoming wonder in a world often guarded by walls. He ushered in a new guard of dreamers, building his audience and developing close ties with educational institutions like SCAD.

Runway’s new virality

<p>Photo: Imaxtree</p>

Viral fashion moments abounded this year, especially during the Spring 2023 runways. IRL shows returned with a vengeance, but it was the internet that made them live on — and truly take off. There’s no better example than Bella Hadid closing Coperni that season in Paris with a spray-on dress. A close second is Gucci’s “Twinsburg” debut in Milan, featuring 68 pairs of twins walking down the runway in mirrored looks.

… but size inclusivity takes a hit

<p>Photo: Imaxtree</p>

As Fashionista reported, size diversity on the runway regressed in 2022, with the number of New York Fashion Week shows featuring non-sample-sized models dwindling from past seasons, after this issue had become such a talking point pre-pandemic. With runways often being in the market of what’s in and what’s cool, the exclusion of different bodies served as a disappointment.

Sustainability’s next frontier

<p>Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The fashion industry is notoriously under-regulated, but a new chapter is on the horizon in the U.S., with legislation presenting a path forward for the conversation around sustainability.

In January, led by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Dr. Anna Kelles, a New York coalition announced the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (frequently dubbed the Fashion Act), which seeks to hold the state’s biggest fashion businesses accountable for environmental and social matters. A few months later, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act, the first federal fashion bill that would address labor concerns and workers’ rights in the U.S. garment industry. (Read the full text of the bill on Sen. Gillibrand’s website.)

Kim does Marilyn

<p>Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Kim Kardashian is responsible for one of the most discourse-fueling looks of 2022: She re-wore the dress Marilyn Monroe donned to sing JFK happy birthday in 1962 — owned by Ripley’s Believe It or Not — to the 2022 Met Gala. People discussed her extreme diet, the ethics of wearing (and thus unavoidably damaging) a historical garment, the fact that she walked the carpet with then-boyfriend Pete Davidson… The list goes on.

Skims wins big

<p>Photo: Courtesy of SKIMS</p>

… All the while, Kardashian was laughing her way to the bank, by way of Skims, which reached a $3.2 billion valuation in 2022, thanks to new funding and ever-loving fans.

“This latest round will allow us to focus on bringing more innovations and solutions to our customers and become even more of a trusted resource for them,” Kardashian told Fortune.

Since launching in 2019, Skims has found rapid success in shapewear and loungewear, with the pandemic catapulting its cozier categories. This year, the brand also took home the inaugural CFDA Innovation Award presented by Amazon at the trade organization’s annual ceremony.

Estée Lauder acquires Tom Ford

<p>Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Tom Ford made big moves in 2022: He sold his namesake brand to Estée Lauder for $2.8 billion. It became the cosmetics company’s largest acquisition to date and the first fashion brand in its portfolio. Ford will stay on through the end of 2023, as will longtime business consultant Domenico De Sole. Ford also stepped down as president of the CFDA (and was succeeded by Thom Browne).

Patagonia sells off

<p>Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Patagonia literally gave itself away as a company in the name of environmental preservation and sustainability: This year, American rock climber-turned-businessman Yvon Chouinard transferred ownership of the brand he founded to a trust and nonprofit. The company said it was “going purpose” instead of “going public,” making Earth its main shareholder — a first-of-its-kind move.

The year of the ‘nepo baby’

<p>Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

For the (somehow) uninitiated, “nepo babies” are relatives of successful, famous or otherwise well-connected people who then end up successful, famous or otherwise well-connected. In 2022, they got called out on online and on the front pages of magazines, with the connections that may have helped them reach their heights of career success being called into question.

Of course, fashion has always loved nepo babies, from Hadids to Jenners to Gerbers. And every year, there’s a new class to look out for in campaigns or sitting in the front row at a Miu Miu show.

Rihanna’s maternity style

<p>Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Rihanna has changed any and every new space she’s entered, so it’s no surprise she had the same effect on maternity style as she flaunted her pregnancy in the first half of 2022.

Rather than opting for clothes that covered up her growing bump, the Fenty founder  refused to tone down sexiness or her own style. That meant: beaded halter tops, vintage Chanel, diamond belly chains and more. She even got “maternity crop tops” to trend.

Anything and everything Julia Fox

<p>Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

In early 2022, Julia Fox solidified her place in fashion with a trip to Haute Couture Fashion Week with her then-boyfriend. While there, she debuted a makeup look that would rank among the most influential of the year: her intense Black Swan-like cat eye.

Even after their split, Fox continued serving looks, becoming a TikTok star and highlighting emerging designers. She opened LaQuan Smith’s Fall 2022 show and was crowned one of Fashionista’s best dressed celebrities in 2022. She took the cake in ambitious dressing, daring any fan to take it up a notch and dream bigger through their clothes.

A looming recession

<p>Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images</p>

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Talks of a recession relentlessly haunted headlines throughout 2022, as the Fed raised rates to curb spending. Economists fretted the future, as did the fashion industry. (You can read “The State of Fashion 2023” report by the Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Co. for a careful run-down.) Experts cautioned of a “polycrisis” between the economy and fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine, with fashion executives bracing for a slowdown through 2023.

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