In a decade defined by the rise of Instagram and the advent of the influencer, it has never been more important to pay attention to what you’re wearing. While you may not have actively sought out clothes to fit a certain style, some of the items hanging in your closet at the moment fall under the categories listed below: the fashion trends that defined the 2010s.
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There was no avoiding this term early on in the decade. It embodied such a specific persona that it was nearly impossible to not run into one on a casual stroll even in, say, Megamall. Fast fashion stores fully embraced the hipster stereotype by offering clothes that unintentionally gave everyone a predilection for gingham and flannel. Timberland boots, skinny jeans, full beards or styled mustaches all defined hipster fashion, along with a certain snobbish attitude and a music taste reserved only for tracks found on HypeMachine. And don’t you dare forget the man bun.
The main thread behind this trend was a focus on individuality, rejecting all aspects of pop culture in the pursuit of uniqueness—which ironically failed when the lifestyle became mainstream.
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Famous advocate: King of Quirk, Michael Cera
Style essentials: glasses with no grades, and jeans 3 sizes too small
Won’t be caught dead wearing: anything fast fashion, you evil capitalist
Many people didn’t take to hipster culture very well, given the sour demeanor one embodied when acting like a snooty lumberjack. In response to people dressing a very specific way, normcore suggested that no one is defined exclusively by what they wear, and that your clothes didn’t dictate where you fit in.
One of the many inspirations for this movement was the unchanging wardrobe of Steve Jobs, who famously only wore a black turtleneck, jeans, and an assortment of running shoes. We can credit New Balance and Uniqlo for the the continuous supply of classic, minimalist apparel that is readily available for purchase, no matter the season.
As with most fashion trends, people took the movement to the extreme, and further created their own normcore subsets. We have another article on the site explaining the birth of dadcore, a subculture that fully embraced the notion that one must sacrifice fashionability for practicality, as well as designers releasing clothes with intentionally placed holes that seemed to take inspiration from the homeless.
Famous advocate: Shia LaBeouf
Style essentials: blue wash jeans and a plain white shirt from Landmark
Won’t be caught dead wearing: anything that goes beyond the earth tone spectrum
Hypebeast / Streetwear
We can thank Kanye West for being the pioneer of overcharging the masses for tattered shirts and pants, but also for a sneaker collaboration with Adidas and Raf Simons that became an absolute beast in shoe sales. The Yeezy label brought streetwear into the mainstream, so much so that even traditionally high fashion labels constantly collaborated with underground designers and catapulted them into legendary status.
Collaboration was the name of the game for the latter half of the 2010s, and one of the biggest pioneers of this was skate shop Supreme. Their landmark collaboration with Louis Vuitton almost singlehandedly changed the perception of streetwear as the opposite of luxury and high fashion. It also helped birth the hypebeast movement, made up of people who collect these steeply-priced, hard-to-nab desirables. Knockoffs can be found in Greenhills and even in malls, and it’s undeniable that at one point in the decade, the city was painted a specific shade of bright red.
Arguably the most influential designer of the 2010s was Demna Gvasalia, who was making news with clothing brand Vetements before becoming the creative director of Balenciaga. Balenciaga was already in the lower brackets of the luxury portfolio at one point but is now considered one of the fastest growing businesses since Gvasalia’s takeover. “I don’t think elegance is relevant,” the creative director famously shared to The Guardian. His eye was always aimed at the people on the streets, and it’s undeniable that many took notice.
Tokyo 2017 pic.twitter.com/jzpY0V32Z7— julius babao (@juLiusbabao) March 9, 2017
Famous advocate: Hypebeast Tito, Julius Babao
Style essentials: the latest sneaker release purchased from a Hong Kong reseller
Won’t be caught dead wearing: knockoffs, and if they did, they would deny it forever
Consider this trend the offspring of both normcore and streetwear, taking the watered down styling of the former and combining it with the practicality and carefree attitude of the latter. Yoga pants, leggings, and joggers all came down various important runways thanks in part to celebrities and athletes who themselves used sportswear as everyday wear.
Many athleisure advocates rationalize this style as one borne of a focus on functionality and wellness. Chip Wilson of Lululemon is credited as the originator of the movement, with the idea to start a business of mixing streetwear with spin class attires coming to him after one fateful yoga class. From then on, breathable, stretchy material became the go-to for the working class.
While many scoff in derision at the notion of paying a premium for what is essentially gym attire, it is hard to sway those who believe that luxurious comfort is king.
Famous advocate: LeBron James
Style essentials: cotton hoodie, Under Armour sweatpants, and a reusable Starbucks cup
Won’t be caught dead wearing: leather shoes and neckties
Unisex / Androgynous Fashion
This movement goes beyond just fashion, and can be seen as the culmination of many hard-fought battles for equal rights. Of all the style trends in this article, this carries the most political weight. Androgyny questions the labelling of clothing as male or female, and given the call for more progressive and inclusive consciousness, the style is continuously gaining momentum.
While borrowing fashion designed for the opposite sex is hardly a new concept –– the likes of David Bowie and Grace Jones were famous practicioners –– many notable people have come to embrace genderless fashion. In 2010, Janelle Monae entered the scene walking on a tightrope as she tried to redefine how a female pop star should look like. More recently, Timothee Chalamet caused a commotion by simply wearing a harness at this year’s Golden Globes.
While it’s easy to believe the challenges of gender binary labeling have been overcome because of the presence of unisex styles on runways, fashion is fickle, and fads have a short lifespan. We can only hope that change is afoot, and even if the style doesn’t take hold, the ongoing conversation should.
Famous advocate: Harry Styles
Style essentials: high-waisted pants, empire sleeves, and anything designed by Rick Owens
Won’t be caught dead wearing: you can wear anything, fashion is for everyone
Fashion is cyclical, and all the trends that defined the 2010s are both reflections of the current cultural landscape and evolutions of styles that came before it. As we enter the new decade, we can only guess what suddenly becomes popular or what generation-defining piece resurfaces— and we can only hope that the man bun be finally laid to rest.