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The year 2021 in Fashion

By Samantha Beltran Published Dec 31, 2021 5:00 am

Year Two into the pandemic, and we have finally eased into the new normal. No longer a vague concept, we’ve gotten cozy with al fresco dining affairs, masked jaunts and rejoicing over vaccination cards and booster shots.

While far from perfect, the optimism of 2021 has channeled itself into the realm of fashion, embracing the whole “out with the old, in with the new” mantra, arms wide open — from virtual pop-ups and blockchain fashion, to wearing our values and beliefs on our sleeves.

Not all prospects have been bright-eyed this year, however: the world mourned over the sudden passing of beloved talents such as Virgil Abloh. Still, if the events of 2021 are any indication, next year holds more groundbreaking style moments to look forward to. Behold, a recap of the 2021 that was in fashion.

On Wednesdays, Kakampinks wear pink

Social media was awash in bright fuchsia hues when Vice President Leni Robredo announced her bid for the presidency in October this year, as supporters dubbed themselves “Kakampinks” — the color is said to reflect the Vice President’s strength as a leader.

Since the announcement, Kakampinks have devoted their Wednesdays to pink, following the tradition of The Plastics in the film Mean Girls, with celebrities and everyday people getting creative with their hot pink OOTDs.

Barbie is one of the iconic figures who posted in pink on the day Leni Robredo announced her candidacy.

Pink in itself is an interesting choice, as it emerged as a color of protest in last year’s US elections. As Robredo said, “Pink is not just a color, it’s a way of life.”

Greenbelt 3 reopens with a new roster of boutiques

The Dior flagship in the new Greenbelt 3.

After a long period of construction, fashion fans can look forward to a renewed retail experience as Greenbelt 3 opened its doors again to the public — this time housing major flagship brands and exclusive retail concepts.

New to its roster of boutiques are brands that have opened this month, such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dior, Off White, Univers and Thom Browne, Bulgari, Kenzo, Max Mara, Rimowa, Patek Philippe, and L'Officine Universelle Buly — plus, a bigger and better Hermès boutique.

Virgil Abloh passes away

Remembering Virgil Abloh's legacy outside the Off-White store in Greenbelt 3.

News of the sudden passing of Virgil Abloh, 41, shocked the world and made headlines in late November, as online tributes poured in to celebrate the beloved designer’s brief yet meaningful life.

Born to Ghanaian immigrants, Abloh was a master at merging various influences such as streetwear and hip-hop with luxury and classical art, later founding the much-celebrated label Off-White, before being named the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections. “Streetwear in my mind is linked to Duchamp,” Abloh, who was also a close collaborator of Kanye West, once told The New Yorker.

Tributes described Abloh as “a true inspiration who gave so much of himself” with a “fearless drive to create.” He died of cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

Filipino Fashion goes virtual

The Katutubo Pop-Up Fair is one of the fashion platforms to go online.

On our shores, the demand for Filipino-designed and artisanally handcrafted pieces continues to go full steam ahead, yet this year’s restrictions still put a halt on the beloved pop-up fairs of the stylish set. Still, that didn’t stop these platforms from seeking out their patrons.

Once packed with event-goers and rows of booths, events such as the Katutubo Pop-Up Fair, ArteFino, and even Manila FAME launched their own online portals where shoppers can peruse their pieces, while MaArte Fair struck up a partnership with Zalora.

The rise of TV fashion

Ewan McGregor (second from left) as designer Halston in the Netflix original.

Although 2021 has been slowly coaxing people out of their shells again, people largely continued to stay at home — which means being glued to the TV or laptop screen for binge watching.

Viewers this year have been spoiled for choice by the numerous options for sartorially worthy shows: from the liberating and luxurious archival pieces in Netflix’s Halston and the intricate period gowns in Bridgerton, to, yes, even the juxtaposition of ostentatious American style and the effortless je ne sais quoi between Emily and Camille in Emily in Paris.

The return of Haute Couture: Demna and Balenciaga

Balenciaga made a haute couture comeback with The Simpsons.

While last year may have seen more austere sensibilities at the height of the pandemic, the comeback of couture signals a more optimistic outlook for fashion. Balenciaga’s creative director Demna announced that the brand was to return to haute couture after a 50-year hiatus. The return of the runways at this year’s Paris Fashion Week also saw the official comeback of high fashion, as befitting for the City of Haute Couture.

Digital Fashion: NFTS and the Metaverse

Gucci partnered with Christie’s to present its first NFT inspired by Aria, Alessandro Michele and Floria Sigismondi’s film presentation of the Spring 2021 collection.

Time to brush up on terms like non-fungible tokens and prepare to add them to your fashion lexicon. 2021 was the year for digital fashion — from owning NFT wearable art and fashion to runways and fashion shows in the metaverse, a “second world” where one can seek out virtual experiences closer and closer to the real world.

Brands such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, and Dolce & Gabbana now offer virtual clothing while Nike just acquired a virtual sneaker designer.

Body diversity is finally in: Victoria’s Secret clips their angel wings

The new Victoria's Secret includes a new cast of characters, such as plus-size model Paloma Elsesser (center).

After year-on-year slumps in the viewership of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, once one of the most anticipated fashion events in a year, the lingerie brand announced that it was retiring its angel wings for good.

Facing long-time criticisms such as the lack of body diversity in their shows and a reportedly misogynistic workplace, VS is moving towards a more progressive direction with the VS Collective, a diverse group of seven women who serve as the brand’s ambassadors that include Priyanka Chopra and footballer Megan Rapinoe.