When it comes to fashion trends that shaped the 2010s, dad jeans, sneakers and logo-laden everything strike multiple chords.
Fashion in the 2010s was underscored by a range of subcultures that met the world stage, from normcore to Gen Z Internet culture (VSCO Girls, anyone?). On another, far more formal plane, the British royal family’s popularity experienced an apotheosis not seen since the days of the late Princess Diana, as Kate and Meghan have taken after their would-be mother-in-law’s fashion icon status.
But while logomania, ath-leisure and the occasional fascinator led the decade style-wise, the fashion industry itself experienced profound cultural shifts over the last 10 years that spurred marked change in terms of larger issues including inclusivity, diversity and sustainability across the board.
As the 2010s come to a close, WWD looks at the seven fashion trends that defined the decade.
1. Goodbye Formalwear, Hello Ath-leisure
Fashion got casual in the 2010s. From the wellness movement to 24/7 access to just about anyone on Instagram and Snapchat, a relaxed culture ensued, giving launch to the decade’s most comfortable fashion trend: ath-leisure.
What started at the gym, as the boutique fitness culture proliferated in the decade, the demand for more fashionable workout clothes increased, too. Hyperstylized workout gear, from the ubiquitous yoga pant to sports bras, evolved with higher-quality fabrics, vibrant colors and graphic patterns, spilling from the spin class to the street.
2. The Royal Effect
The 2010s ushered in a number of high-profile additions to the British royal family, most notably the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who have both had their own unique influence on fashion.
Much like the late Princess Diana, both duchesses have proven that they have the magic touch when it comes to influencing consumer purchases, with pieces they wear at royal engagements virtually selling out within minutes of their photos hitting the Internet.
Since her royal wedding to Prince William in 2011, Middleton’s style has become defined by heritage British designers with her go-to brands being Alexander McQueen, Emilia Wickstead and Jenny Packham. She’s largely stuck to royal dress codes, favoring structured coats, knee-length and long-sleeve dresses, high-waisted trousers and closed-toe pumps.
Markle, while only officially part of the royal family since her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, has had a marked effect on fashion — and designers’ bottom lines. The duchess has become known for championing smaller and emerging designers, such as Mackage and Greta Constantine, and more affordable options from brands like Aritzia, Club Monaco and Reformation. The California-born Markle also has a sweet spot for American fashion designers, regularly wearing looks by close friend Misha Nonoo, as well as designers like Jason Wu, Brandon Maxwell and Veronica Beard.
3. A Street Style Star Is Born
Street style photography has long been a part of fashion week, but the phenomenon gained prestige and ubiquity in the 2010s thanks to the proliferation of social media. These street style images circulated on fashion blogs, web sites and Instagram more so than actual runway looks, spawning a budding class of influencers that today are industry powerhouses.
The dawn of the “street style star” can be credited in large part to the late New York Times photographer (and former WWD alum), Bill Cunningham. For decades, Cunningham was a fixture on the streets of New York, but he became a celebrity in his own right with a documentary about his work, which was released in 2011. The decade also saw the rise of other street style photographers, including Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton, who gave a platform to the self-styled fashion bloggers and put on display their widely acclaimed authentic style.
4. Subcultures Go Mainstream
Perhaps ironically, the antitrend was the one of the most pervasive fashion trends of the 2010s. Fashion subcultures, the direct antithesis to ubiquitous, sometimes overstylized trends, proved to be even more popular than the original trends themselves, making their way from niche communities to the mainstream fashion runway. The decade saw a number of these subcultures enter the widespread cultural lexicon, most notably normcore, streetwear and Gen-Z Internet culture.
5. Inclusivity and Diversity Take Centerstage
The long-awaited movement for inclusivity and diversity had a profound effect on the industry in the 2010s. Designers and brands across the board made commitments to making their businesses, runways and designs both represented by and available to people of all races, gender identities, size and age.
Chromat, for one, has championed diversity and inclusivity in fashion since launching in 2010, serving as a beacon to an industry that needed to catch up. Chromat designer Becca McCharen-Tran has long cast her runways with a diverse set of models, including those that are plus size, transgender, pregnant, amputees and breast cancer survivors. Most recently, McCharen-Tran cast plus-size model Tess Holliday in her 10th anniversary spring 2020 collection, where the model was seen wearing a dress that read “sample size.”