The 9 Biggest Fashion News Stories of 2018

Want to know what this year will be remembered for? We can help with that.
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Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day. Photo: Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day. Photo: Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

We may still have a few holidays to get through before 2018 is officially over, but it's close enough to the end that we're starting to reflect on what the past year has looked like in fashion. That's why we've rounded up nine of the biggest stories that defined this year in fashion news, from the way the "Markle Effect" has impacted brands to a record-breaking exhibition at the Met's Costume Institute to the untimely death of designer Kate Spade. 

From the controversial to the cute to the straight-up confusing, these are the fashion stories that 2018 will be remembered for.

The royal wedding (and Highly Branded Fashion Nuptials)

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle on her wedding day. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle on her wedding day. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle's wedding to Duke of Sussex Prince Harry in May was a historic event watched by more than 53 million people, and the Duchess's ability to influence fashion has only continued to grow since then. On her recent Australian tour, the Duchess used that power to boost the profile of the ethical fashion community by championing a host of sustainable brands.

However, the royal wedding wasn't the only important set of nuptials that took place this year. OG fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni also got married and earned even more media value for Dior, the label behind her couture wedding wardrobe, than the Duchess did for Givenchy and Stella McCartney, who designed her ceremony and reception dresses for her big day. Other major fashion weddings in 2018 included Karlie Kloss tying the knot with Joshua Kushner, Priyanka Chopra making it official with Nick Jonas and Hailey Baldwin marrying Justin Bieber.

New York Fashion Week's continued evolution

A look from Alexander Wang's Collection 2 runway show. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

A look from Alexander Wang's Collection 2 runway show. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

After many of New York's cornerstone designers decamped for international fashion weeks in 2017, 2018 saw NYFW trying to find its footing in new ways. In January, Alexander Wang announced that he'd opt out of the traditional calendar to show on the pre-collection schedule, and the CFDA expressed excitement about the move, hinting that other brands would likely follow. But since this past June — Wang's first time showing on the new schedule — saw him joined by only three other brands, the shifted schedule seems unlikely to be a silver bullet for NYFW's woes. 

But all that didn't mean that New York was being abandoned by the global fashion industry. On the contrary, this year saw numerous international labels including Prada, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana staging shows in New York, proving the city's still got serious fashion appeal.

'Heavenly Bodies' breaking records at the Met

Inside the Met's "Heavenly Bodies" exhibition. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images 

Inside the Met's "Heavenly Bodies" exhibition. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's blockbuster Costume Institute exhibition "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" became the most-visited exhibition in the museum's history, breaking a record set in 1978. After kicking off with the Met Gala in May — which featured a lot of celebrities wearing fun headgear and Rihanna dressed as a bejeweled pope — the exhibition relied on its unique combination of designer garb, actual liturgical vestments from the Vatican and its dual locations at the Cloisters and the Met's main building to lure visitors. 

Sustainability making new strides

A recycled plastic puffer from Everlane's ReNew collection. Photo: Everlane

A recycled plastic puffer from Everlane's ReNew collection. Photo: Everlane

2018 marked the five-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse — the garment industry's worst accident ever — and it saw some landmarks in growing consumer awareness of the ethics of sustainable manufacturing and production in fashion. Burberry was publicly lambasted for burning millions of dollars of unsold merchandise, the number of labels opting to go fur-free grew longer than ever and the use of recycled plastic bottles in fashion products became increasingly common. Even as brands rallied to correct internal sustainability shortcomings, resale was predicted to grow larger than fast fashion over the next decade. 

Top-level executives making messes of their brands

The finale of the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The finale of the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Top-level brand executives made sure this year's news cycle wasn't lacking in controversy. First, there was the drawn-out, confusing drama with Deciem's CEO and Founder Brandon Truaxe, who used public Instagram posts to conduct internal business affairs before eventually being removed from his position (and getting served a restraining order by Estée Lauder executives he'd threatened).

Then there was Dolce & Gabbana, which released a video leading up to its #DGLovesChina show that was criticized as racist. Diet Prada added fuel to the fire by posting a private Instagram DM from Stefano Gabbana that was even more incendiary, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the show. Though D&G claimed that Gabbana's account had been "hacked" and made an apology video, it was too late to stop some e-tailers from pulling Dolce & Gabbana from their sites.

Elsewhere, Victoria's Secret CMO Ed Razek sparked outrage by making comments about why trans and plus-size models aren't included in the VS Fashion Show in an interview with Vogue. With plenty of people already feeling frustrated with Victoria's Secret's narrow vision of beauty, Razek's interview underscored the executive's disconnection from the current mood in the industry.

Kate Spade passing away

Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Kate Valentine (better known as Kate Spade), the founder of Kate Spade and Frances Valentine, committed suicide in New York City at age 55 in June, sending shockwaves through the industry that knew her best for her cheery, whimsical designs. Another well-known accessories designer, Judith Leiber, passed away in April at age 97 due to natural causes; iconic French designer Hubert de Givenchy passed away in March.

Brands hiring new designers, rebranding, parting with old investors and acquiring new ones

Hedi Slimane's first collection for Celine. Photo: Yanshan Zhang/Getty Images

Hedi Slimane's first collection for Celine. Photo: Yanshan Zhang/Getty Images

Hedi Slimane's debut at Celine — and all the logo stripping down that went with it — was picked apart by fashion people of every stripe (and often loudly lamented). Meanwhile, Riccardo Tisci started a much-anticipated new chapter at Burberry that also included a redesigned logo, while Olivier Rousteing re-launched couture at Balmain and Alexander Wang rebranded just in time to show on his new June/December schedule. 

There was also plenty of money changing hands as brands bought each other out. Michael Kors acquired Versace and Ermenegildo Zegna bought Thom Browne, while other labels like Stella McCartney and Proenza Schouler bought back shares of their own companies from their investors. Meanwhile, brands like Warby Parker, Outdoor Voices, Glossier, Depop, TheRealReal and StockX raised millions of dollars of fresh capital to keep growing their already-influential businesses.

Fashion sending strong messages in the political sphere

Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

Clothing is always a communicative medium that sends messages beyond the words the wearer is saying, but this year provided some extreme examples of fashion-as-language. First, there was Mark Zuckerberg wearing a suit to represent Facebook to Congress while being questioned about data leaks, privacy policies and the social media platform's role in the 2016 election — and the suit itself was enough to garner headlines for someone so inextricably connected to jeans and hoodies in the public imagination. Then there was Melania Trump wearing a Zara jacket with the words "I really don't care, do u?" emblazoned on it while taking a trip to a children's shelter in Texas, a move that many interpreted as deliberately undermining the alleged humanitarian purpose of the visit.

Harry Styles finally getting his Gucci contract

Harry Styles for Gucci's Cruise 2019 tailoring campaign. Photo: Glen Luchford/Gucci

Harry Styles for Gucci's Cruise 2019 tailoring campaign. Photo: Glen Luchford/Gucci

Remember when #Harry4Gucci was a thing Team Fashionista used to write about in a pipe dream sort of way? Well, 2018 is the year when the dream came true, and Styles complemented his Gucci-filled tour wardrobe with his very own (baby-animal filled, sometimes-religious-icon-referencing) Gucci campaign. If you don't consider this one of the biggest new stories of the year, that's fine, just don't @ us.

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