There’s one fashion trend that’s still blowing up, and showing no signs of deflating any time soon: inflation. Unlike other trends which seem to pop at their peak, inflatable fashion has been floating around for years now, and is still working its way into collections from the catwalk to the high streets.
Taking it all the way back to the ‘90s, bubble backpacks and moon boots buoyed the idea. By 2008, we saw the Nike ACG GORE-TEX jackets take off, that see wearers pulling a toggle to inflate the back into an aerated pattern, and have since transformed into a must-have grail for Gorpy Joshis everywhere.
But it’s in the high fashion space that we’ve really seen the trend blow up. Craig Green sent inflatable structures down the runway in 2018 and 2022 – the latter in conjunction with Moncler, arguably pioneers of inflatable fashion as a whole. Moncler’s collaborative collections with Dingyun Zhang also find themselves on the inflatable side, too.
Last year, we saw LOEWE set inflatable fashion in stone (and heels) with its balloon footwear that immediately went viral, while Coach puffed out its pillow Tabi bag. HARRI also entered the mainstream, after presenting at London Fashion Week and making that outfit on Sam Smith. Chuck in Diesel’s massive inflatable figures in Milan, MSCHF’s Big Red Boots and Fredrik Tjærandsen’s iconic graduate show, and you would have thought we had already reached peak inflation – but even this year, the bubble is yet to burst.
Floating its way down from designer to high street, one of this season’s most coveted coat silhouettes is distinctly bubble-like in shape. Acne Studios does one, as does LOEWE, and countless others will no doubt follow. More recently, Olivier Rousteing previewed the Balmain Cloud shoes, which gave inflatable crab claw, but make it gothic.
Another ballooning element of inflatable fashion is the rise of AR ads – from Jacquemus to Victoria Beckham, brands are blowing their bags up and planting them on the Seine. Let’s face it, inflation makes an impact, and in the age of social media, brands going bigger and bolder is a sure-fire way to get noticed amongst the crowds.
It also plays into the cartoon-ification of fashion that we’ve seen in recent years. Jonathan Anderson does this best, playing with Polly Pocket sets, clay hoodies and block silhouettes at LOEWE and JW Anderson. Combine this with the mass shift away from hyper detail, and you could say this trend is yet to blow over. It’s not all hot air after all.
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