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10 of the most viral fashion moments from 2022

By Rachel Douglass


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Alexa Demie as Maddie Perez in Euphoria, Season 2. Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Conversations regularly erupted on social media and the online world as whole this year, as a wide range of news from within fashion became ‘viral’ – a term used to describe topics that circulate rapidly on the internet.

FashionUnited has compiled a list of occasions that sparked the biggest online discussions of 2022, influencing movements, defining trends and spreading beyond the fashion industry to impact wider culture.

The downfall of Kanye West’s fashion empire

Image: Balenciaga SS23 via Catwalkpictures

Ye, formerly Kanye West, was undoubtedly at the forefront of discussion for much of 2022, following a series of controversies, a widely criticised fashion week appearance and the demise of notable partnerships. The rapper-turned-designer first sparked conversation in the fashion industry after he took to social media to publicly rally against both Adidas and Gap with various complaints, such as breaches of contract and allegedly released styles that didn't have his approval.

After appearing at the front and centre of Balenciaga’s SS23 show, Ye then hosted an off-schedule Paris Fashion Week solo Yeezy show, where he opted to display t-shirts with the phrase ‘White Lives Matter’ printed on the back. The stunt sparked a large-scale online discussion and widespread criticism, with Ye then once again taking to social media to publicly denounce anyone who disapproved of the move, resulting in further backlash from industry experts and veterans. After making even further racist and anti-semitic remarks, Ye finally lost his contracts with Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga, each of which had noted they didn't align with his views upon cutting ties.

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Bella Hadid’s Coperni spray on dress

Coperni SS23. Images: Coperni

Coperni’s SS23 provided somewhat of a distraction to Ye’s shenanigans, offering up an artistic and innovative take on dress making. For the display, the head of Fabrican Ltd. Manel Torres appeared on the runway with an assistant to spray a dress onto the body of British Fashion Council’s (BFC) Model of the Year, Bella Hadid. The event blew up on social media, becoming a defining moment in pop culture, according to analytics platform Launchmetrics.

In a report on Paris Fashion Week, the firm, which assesses the media impact value (MIV) of events, said the spectacle generated a MIV of 26.3 million dollars within 48 hours, including 20.9 million dollars on social media. One of Hadid’s Instagram posts featuring the moment contributed one million dollars, and boasted over 2.8 million likes.

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Alessandro Michele takes his final Gucci bow

Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele is stepping down. Image: Gucci AW2020 via Catwalkpictures

The internet went into a collective state of shock when rumours that Alessandro Michele was to step down as Gucci’s creative director were confirmed. The designer’s decision came after seven years at the Kering-owned house, where he was credited with bringing great success to the Italian brand. Michele’s presence at Gucci could be defined by spectacular shows, an increased digital presence and hyped up collaborations, including with the likes of Harry Styles, Adidas and The North Face.

Gucci’s most recent show was among Michele’s viral hits, during which he presented a collection on the runway sported by 68 individual twins. According to Launchmetrics, the event, entitled ‘Twinsburg’, garnered 18.8 million dollars in MIV, led by the brand’s own media channels and platforms that brought in a worth of 6.6 million dollars. Its popularity was largely down to the representation of families and came as an extension to Michele’s own personal interest in twins, as previously seen in his past Met Gala appearance with Jared Leto.

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Kim Kardashian causes a stir at the Met Gala

Image: Dimitrios Kambouris / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

If there was one individual that truly took over the Met Gala, albeit for arguably all the wrong reasons, it was none other than Kim Kardashian. The reality star riled up social media users, fashion history experts and other fellow celebrities after appearing at the annual event in a dress that was originally made for Marilyn Monroe. The piece was rented to Kardashian by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which was also came under fire for allowing such an iconic item to be worn.

Its appearance on the red carpet formulated a discussion about whether or not it had been damaged, with many stating that it had been after a video surfaced on Twitter following the event of alleged rips around the seams. However, the museum quickly put to rest the claims, stating that it was in the same condition as before the event. Kardashian’s stunt did make her the top performing attendee for the Met Gala, however, raking in 39 million dollars in MIV for conversations during the first four days, and putting her in first place in terms of social media placement.

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Adidas collaborates with the luxury industry

Image: Gucci x Adidas

Adidas remained a hot topic of discussion throughout much of 2022, as the brand continued to consistently release notable collaborations with a wide number of luxury brands and designers. It started off strong with the unveiling of its Prada collaboration in January, garnering over six million dollars in MIV built up over the eight days before and after the launch, as found by Launchmetrics.

Its presence peaked however after it revealed its Gucci collaboration on the Milan Fashion Week runway, a partnership it later expanded on with a ready-to-wear collection. The collaboration put Gucci in second place on Lyst’s quarterly index, and catapulted Adidas into the luxury limelight, amassing 75.8 million dollars in MIV by the end of June. Later, Adidas’ Balenciaga collection, revealed during the luxury brand’s Resort 2023 runway and paired with a series of BDSM masks, generated 7.2 million dollars in MIV for its first 10 days of release.

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K-pop stars take fashion week

Celine Homme SS23, Palais de Tokyo, June 26. Credit: Courtesy of Celine.

While celebrity appearances at fashion shows always cause a bit of a stir, a few individuals made a particular impact on the public by simply showing up – K-pop stars. At Celine’s SS23 show in Paris, BTS’ V and Blackpink’s Lisa, who were joined by Korean actor Park Bo Gum, descended on the venue, arriving to a mass of screaming fans, which they proceeded to greet and wave at. Their rare public appearances also caused an eruption on social media, with TikTok hashtags like #LisaCeline accumulating over 60 million views within 24 hours, according to WWD.

Dior also experienced the power of K-pop at both its AW22 and later its SS23 shows, at which another Blackpink member, Jisoo, appeared at both. According to Launchmetrics, the performer’s attendance garnered the brand nearly three million dollars in MIV for SS23, meanwhile, for its AW22 show, her presence was responsible for seven million dollars in MIV. Korean celebrities also came out in force for Prada’s Milan Fashion Week SS23 show too, seeing Korea rank as the top engaged country for the event, amassing 6.8 million dollars.

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Euphoria and Emily in Paris score big

Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard in Euphoria season 2. Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO via WarnerMedia

Television had a big impact on fashion this year, with the release of series such as And Just Like That, Bridgerton and Stranger Things having profound influence on fashion throughout each season. Two TV shows particularly took hold, however, both piquing audiences’ interests with buzzy launches and captivating, fashion-forward characters. Emily in Paris came in second on comparison site Uswitch’s annual report for most inspirational fashion and beauty trends this year, hitting an average of 39,000 searches per month globally. Launchmetrics also reported strong feedback, with the series amassing 96 million dollars in MIV, and boosting the same factor for the likes of Dior, Valentino, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.

However, it was HBO’s Euphoria that came out on top, taking the number one spot for Uswitch’s report and garnering vast MIV. After its launch in early 2022, the series became HBO’s second watched show, with a finale that drew in 6.6 million viewers across all of the company’s platforms and amassed over 34 million Tweets in the US alone, making it the most-tweeted-about-show of the decade according to Collider. Its success seeped out into brands that appointed its cast of Gen Z-favoured actors, who each went on to back highly successful campaigns and link up with a range of designer labels. Hunter Schafer brought in 3.4 million dollars in MIV for her SS22 Prada collaboration, while Jacob Elordi generated 2.8 million dollars through his partnership with Boss.

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Raf Simons closes namesake label

Raf Simons at the finale of his SS22 Womenswear presentation in Paris (Photo: Catwalk Pictures)

In November, Raf Simons unexpectedly announced his decision to shutter his namesake label, noting that his spring/summer 2023 season would be the brand’s final. The revelation drew in vast responses from fans of the brand, fellow designers and celebrity supporters, with the likes of Matthew Williams, Asap Rocky and Marc Jacobs expressing their sentiments in the comments of Simons’ Instagram post. The image itself featured a heartfelt message to the brand’s followers by Simons, who shared his gratitude for his team and other supporters before thanking everyone for their belief in him and the brand. The post has now garnered over 145,000 likes and more than 7,200 comments.

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Barbiecore takes over

Photo Credits: Barbie x Balmain, phygital collection of ready-to-wear garments, accessories and NFT assets. Photo courtesy.

Following sneak peeks of Margot Robbie as Barbie for Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film on the infamous doll figure, the rise of ‘Barbiecore’ took hold of the fashion world, as reflected in a growing number of brand collaborations and the online obsession with everything pink. While celebrities channelled the trend on red carpets and social media, the youth-driven trend was also mirrored in designer collections and runways, like that of Valentino and Balenciaga.

A report by payment solution provider Klarna further cemented the trend’s impact with its research into ‘Hyperfemininity’, which encompassed Barbiecore, as well as Bimbocore and Balletcore. The trend was largely driven by a 126 percent increase in sales of pink products in August, the firm’s research found. And it seems like the Barbie hype will not be dying down anytime soon. The film’s production company, Warner Brothers, unveiled the first trailer for the highly anticipated event on December 16, which within seven days has already garnered over 6.7 million views across Barbie and Warner Brothers’ YouTube channels alone. It is set to be released into cinemas July 2023.

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Balenciaga breaks down over campaign fiasco

Image: Balenciaga Facebook.

Balenciaga was at the height of controversy following the release of two campaigns that sparked an international outcry and hefty criticism from observers. While one campaign featured children holding bears adorned in BDSM gear, another made for its collaboration with Adidas featured documents related to a child pornography lawsuit, an element spotted by eagle-eyed social media users that zoomed in on the images. Despite the brand swiftly removing both campaigns from its social media accounts and online website, the damage seemed to have already been done, as it continued to face sizable online slating from well beyond the fashion industry.

Following the circumstances, the brand appeared to be attempting to clean up the mess, with multiple apologies issued to the public, the launch of both internal and external investigations and the filing of a lawsuit against the marketing firm behind the campaign, a move that was later reversed after commentators accused the brand of trying to transfer blame. The backlash was prominent enough that it caused the fashion label to state it was revising its organisation and saw a number of its ambassadors reevaluate their links to the brand, including Kim Kardashian and, seemingly, Euphoria’s Alexa Demie, who has since removed references to Balenciaga from her social media.

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Bella Hadid
Kanye West
Kim Kardashian
Raf Simons