Looking to shake your style up a bit for the new year? Why not try out a few of these sustainable fashion trends for 2022?
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
You might be wondering why you should care about sustainable fashion trends for 2022. After all, you’ve likely been stuck inside for months, thanks to government lockdowns. You’ve probably worn nothing but PJs and slippers for days on end.
But my friends, have hope! This simply cannot last forever. And there’s lots of fun clothing just waiting to raise your spirits.
Who wouldn’t feel a bit elated dressing up in dramatic flared pants, donning sexy tiny tops, or wearing comfy, wide-legged jeans? Joie de vivre, calls for vibrant colours, too – and we will be seeing loads of them!
What makes a fashion trend sustainable?
Of course, we aim to be fashionable – but sustainable, too! While blindly following trends is the opposite of sustainable (in fact, it pretty much defines ‘fast fashion’), ecological consciousness demands a major use of upcycled and sustainable fabrics in fashion trends. The trend for upcycled wool in knitwear, for example, allows for better use of scrap and recycled materials.
Tech comes into the picture too, with 3D printing being more readily available to the masses. 3D printed knits, using fibres made from recycled plastic bottles, is a trend that’s growing each year. You can find these knits in Rothy’s and Vivaia footwear and bags, for example.
Finally, remember: what comes around, goes around. Something else that makes a fashion trend sustainable is the return of previous styles. Shopping for vintage oversized jackets from the 80s or mini skirts from the 70s will leave you feeling bang on trend for this year.
Who says something is trending?
You might be wondering who actually calls fashion trends. And the answer is more complex than you might think!
Fashion trends are often set by magazine editors. They go to the runway shows, then promote what they liked most on the catwalks. Of course today, social media influencers do the same thing, with similar results.
There are also fancier fashion trend forecasters, who use a unique technique called Cultural Triangulation, which is a simple and effective three-pronged process that enables them to work out where trends are now, so that we can map out the path into the future for brands, retailers and corporations.
This triangulation involves joining-the-dots between intuition, observation and interrogation. Forecasters analyse and infer data from all research activities into trend hypotheses, and from there they begin to articulate the drivers, consequences and impact of key trends they predict.
In fact, there are entire fashion trend agencies dedicated to doing this! And one of the macro trends they’re predicting for years to come is, of course, sustainability in all things.
Ready to check out some of the best sustainable fashion trends for 2022, below!
Main image: Stella McCartney Second image: Cult Gaia
Hot Sustainable Fashion Trends For 2022
1. Wide Legged Pants
Say goodbye to skinny jeans for like, ever. Whether they’re ‘Oxford’ style flares, wide-legged jeans, or more elegant knit trousers, flared legs are in! This is one of those sustainable fashion trends for 2022 that we predict will stick around for years to come.
There are loads of examples we could show you, but one of our fave pairs of wide legged pants are these jeans by Boyish Jeans, below. These upcycled jeans include organic cotton that is OCS certified, and TENCEL branded lyocell fibres – which are sourced from natural raw material wood and environmentally responsible processes.
How to wear it: When the bottom of your pants are so voluminous, we say you should keep your top tight. While Boyish’s styling below is fine for the cooler weather, we’d rather go for a crop top, or a close fitting knit.
2. Bright Colours
If you thought neon hues were just a passing 90s fad – well, they’re back! Big time, in fact, along with a bombastic feast of other colourful shades. Whether it’s monochrome designs or polychrome patterns, one of the top sustainable fashion trends for 2022 calls for an explosion of bright nuances. Much needed to cheer us all up, right?
How to wear it: One of the best ways to wear brights is via African prints! Yevu clothing’s traditional West African wax print fabrics, shown below, are sourced from female wholesale vendors at Makola Market in Central Accra. Their prints are done on 100% cottons that will soften with wear and wash.
Alternatively, our favourite veggie designer, Stella McCartney, shows how it’s done through monochrome brights, below. (Note the flared pants, too!)
3. Recycled/Sustainable Knits
This was a trend we had already announced in the autumn of 2020: the rise of recycled wool for knitwear. The touch on the skin is luscious, and the practices used to source the material are more humane. So no wonder this is still one of the hottest sustainable fashion trends for 2022.
There are lots of brands using these fibres to make their sweaters these days, but Everlane, pictured below, is making some of the best recycled wool knits around. They’re simple, they’re classical, and they’re perfect for achieving French girl style.
How to wear it: This is one of the most versatile ethical fashion trends this year. It defines both posh or casual attire. Add some jewellery and heels if you want to make your look more glamorous for a night out. Or pair an ethical, recycled knit with leggings and trainers to make it more low profile.
4. Mini Skirts & Dresses
After ages of maxi skirts and dresses ruling the runways, it’s now time for the mini skirt to make a comeback. And the mini is one of the hottest sustainable fashion trends for 2022! There’s an endless choice of fabrics for these: vegan leather, ethical denim, and upcycled polyester, for example.
One of our favourite brand totally rocking these sexy 70s styles? Reformation! We love that their Maya mini dress is made from 95% TENCEL Modal fibres. In case you weren’t aware, this is a wood-based fibre processed from sustainably managed beechwood forests in Northern and Central Europe. The fibre yield of beechwood trees is 2x higher than cotton plants.
Looking for minis that are more sporty than sexy? Try Stella McCartney’s organic cotton ones, too.
How to wear it: You can pair mini skirts with just about anything! Our fave choice? A vintage tee with a pop of bright colour and some vegan flats. For the colder months, why not pair your mini dress or skirt with some mid-heeled, knee-high vegan boots?
5. Plant Based Leathers
Yep, we know that vegan leathers can be kinda crap. They’re often made from pure plastics, or natural fibres blended with loads of plastics. But cactus leather is different.
These fibres are so strong, they barely need any polymers at all. Plus, the cactus grown for these vegan leather accessories is almost always organic, takes very little water indeed, and is sun-dried.
We love how it’s being used for everything from belts and trainers to high heels and handbags, like this one below by Miomojo.
But cactus is not the only leather! Keep your eyes open for apple, banana and even mushroom based leathers, too.
How to wear it: Cactus leather is super strong, so accessories made from the stuff can be sported in even the harshest, wettest conditions.
6. Big Blazers
That 80’s power suit vibe is back with a bang! Or at least the blazer part is. We’re talking about big, statement jackets here. The fit should be loose, comfortable, and androgynous, like this one below by The Row.
If you want to take the boldness of a blazer a step further, go for a brighter colour. And in terms of making this one of the most sustainable fashion trends for 2022, why not shop for yours in a vintage store? You should be able to find something from the 80s that fits this trend perfectly.
How to wear it: There are so many ways to wear big blazers. You can pair yours with the traditional option (pants), or you can switch it up and go with shorts, a dress, or even a skirt instead.
7. Tiny Tops
This is one of the hottest sustainable fashion trends for 2022 for those with a lot of confidence! The 80s had the bodycon dress – and this year, we’ll be flaunting our curves with tiny tops!
These come in all shapes and forms. They could be crop tops with voluminous sleeves, camis with spaghetti straps, or midriff-baring tops with sleeves at all, for example. They could be made from tight-fitting knit featuring TENCEL Lyocell fibers, like this buttercup yellow Carrie top by Reformation, below, or from loose organic cotton. You choose!
How to wear it: These tops pair so well with anything from jeans and skirts to more formal pants or tights. We especially love how they look with baggy mom jeans or flared pants. Dress yours up with some ethical jewelry and heels, or make it sportier with some trainers and shorts.
8. 3D Printed Clothes & Accessories
Of course, 3D printed fashion wasn’t all that common….until now. Nike and Adidas are using the technique, as is one of our fave vegan accessories brands, Rothy’s, whose 3D printed shoes are pictured below.
How to wear it: The reality is that it’s most likely you’re going to find 3D fashion in the form of accessories, like shoes and bags. We think Rothy’s ankle booties, which are 3D knitted, will go with anything in your closet!
9. Oversized Shirts
If you’ve been balking a bit at the notion of wearing a curve-revealing tiny top or leg-exposing mini skirt, this is one of those sustainable fashion trends for 2022 that will make you heave a sigh of relief!
Oversized shirts can come in all kinds of eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and beyond. They’re roomy, they’re comfy, and they suit all body types. What’s not to love?
How to wear it: At home, on Zoom, doing the grocery shopping….whatever you’re up to, an oversized shirt will fit the occasion. It’s easy to pair any oversized shirt, like this organic cotton one below by Reformation, with some jeans and vegan trainers.
10. Practical Puffas
As people crave more and more to be outdoors, you can expect a boost in fancy and functional outerwear. It should be able to withstand any kind of weather. And of course, it should look super chic at the same time. And that pretty much describes puffa jackets in general!
Just make sure yours is cruelty-free, like the one below by Culthread. It uses rescued deadstock black faux leather, faux fur and Thermore 100% post-consumer recycled plastic insulation, instead of animal down. Which is super cruel, as you probably know.
Feeling like these jackets make you look a bit on the larger side? Don’t worry – there are plenty of chic ways to style a puffa jacket!
How to wear it: Wear it with boots or trainers for an urban look.
What are your favourite sustainable fashion trends for 2022? Let us know in the comments, below!