Many of us have spent more time Online in the past nine months than ever before. And though retail, like many industries, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, reports indicate that people are still shopping, albeit differently: Some might be more conscious about where their purchases are coming from and who's making them, others might be more inclined to spend their money on clothes to wear to work from home for the indefinite future.
And even though we haven't gathered in a while, there still seems to be a consensus on a handful of products that dominated the conversation in 2020 — like Telfar's signature shopping bag, beloved by your cool neighbor and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alike, and Hill House Home's highly Instagrammable Nap Dresses. These are the pieces that have been hyped up on the internet, photographed and shared non-stop and might just define 2020 in our wardrobes. (Though, of course, none is more important than a face mask.)
Ahead, we highlight the fashion items we couldn't stop thinking about — or scrolling past — this year.
Telfar Shopping Bag
Of course, Telfar's beloved signature shopping bag isn't new — the brand's been making it since 2010, to much fanfare — but it experienced a major resurgence in 2020. The year kicked off with a spread about "the Bushwick Birkin" (and the community around it) in The Cut, as well as an announcement that Telfar would partner with the Gap, before the global pandemic forced the mass retailer to cancel it, infamously. So, the brand was already in the headlines when it's already highly-anticipated bag restocks became even more heightened — to the point that they were hijacked by bots during the summer.
To combat this, Telfar introduced a Bag Security Program in August, a one-day pre-order system that ensured anyone who wanted a bag would get one. (Those are expected to ship in early 2021.) In its Q3 Index findings, Lyst named the Telfar Shopping Bag as the hottest women's product, "with demand for the bag spiking 270%."
The brand had other moments this year that brought even more eyeballs to its branded tote. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was photographed carrying one on Capitol Hill. Telfar won the 2020 CFDA Award for Accessories Design. Plus, it announced a collaboration with Ugg (after its partnership with Gap got canceled) in 2021. So, 2020 was a big year — but the next one's poised to be even bigger.
You can shop Telfar's shopping bags (if you're quick) here.
Lirika Matoshi Strawberry Dress
Like with the Telfar bag, Lirika Matoshi's big 2020 hit was actually an older style, first introduced last summer. (Tess Holliday wore it to the 2020 Grammy Awards in January.) But it really blew up thanks to TikTok: The #strawberrydress hashtag became increasingly viral in 2020, often paired with the song "Strawberry Blonde" by Mitski, which is big on cottagecore TikTok.
That led to more people discovering the brand, buying its strawberry dress and posting about it across platforms — and, eventually, writing think-pieces about it in the New York Times, Vogue and more. The rest is internet history.
You can shop Lirika Matoshi's strawberry dress here.
Brother Vellies Cloud Sock
Back in April, as New York was in lockdown, Brother Vellies introduced a new product: a pair of colorful, made-in-the-U.S.A. knit socks, retailing for $35. In addition to being an ideal product for this new stay-at-home era, it introduced a much lower price point for the brand, which made them a hit.
These more affordable comfort pieces are also significant because they became the first shipment in Brother Vellies' Something Special program, which launched amid the pandemic and supports the brand's artisan partners from around the world. (A special Lavender colorway of the Cloud sock benefits the brand's mask-making and food distribution initiative in Kenya.)
You can shop Brother Vellies's Cloud socks here.
Hill House Home Nap Dress
Like its name suggests, Hill House Home is a homeware brand, specializing in bedding and bath products. However, its most beloved — and lucrative — offering is its Nap Dress, which it first introduced in 2018. Now, it makes up around 50% of its entire business, founder Nell Diamond told Fashionista earlier this year. As people adjusted their wardrobes to the stay-at-home lifestyle in 2020, many discovered the Nap Dress — and it became a viral sensation.
Like the Strawberry Dress, it garnered articles, ranging from odes to in-depth reports, in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, and responses in The Cut. Now, Hill House Home’s seasonal Nap Dress drops have become a sort of event, with people planning their buys and setting alarms to ensure they're on the site right when the styles launch.
You can shop Hill House Home's Nap dresses here.
The jury's still out on whether Crocs can or will ever be fashion. We know the brand has tried, collaborating with designers like Christopher Kane and Balenciaga in recent years, and many have made the case for it. In 2020, it seems these efforts finally began to pay off.
Demand for the divisive shoes was up this spring, amid Covid-19 lockdowns, the Wall Street Journal reported. A few months later, Lyst said searches for Crocs were up 41% in Q3. Crocs also released buzzy limited-edition capsules with Bad Bunny and Justin Bieber (not to mention: Kentucky Fried Chicken). Among the Instagram set, there was one particular style that really took off: a white clog with a strawberry print.
That specific iteration of Crocs' Classic Vacay Vibes is quite hard to find — it's sold out on the brand's website, though select sizes are still available on Amazon — which perhaps adds to its appeal. But if you're looking to join the Crocs club, this might be the place to start.
You can shop the strawberry-print Crocs here.
Girlfriend Collective Sets
As Quartz reported back in July, activewear proved to be a steady, if not growing category for a lot of brands, even amid a global pandemic that has seen gyms and workout studios close temporarily. If we're judging just by our Instagram feeds — or maybe even just Tyler's — Girlfriend Collective has proven to be a favorite with its colorful, sustainability-minded, size-inclusive (XXS to 6XL) separates. Their sell-out rate certainly suggests that.
Shop Girlfriend Collective sets here.
By Chari "Vote" Necklace
Two words: Michelle Obama.
When the former FLOTUS spoke at the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC), she ensured that her message was clear not just through a powerful speech, but also through her fashion that evening. Styled by Meredith Koop, she wore a necklace by the Black-owned jewelry brand By Chari that read, "Vote."
It was a custom order for Obama — though By Chari had previously created "Vote" styles in 2016 and 2018, per the L.A. Times. But following the DNC, designer Chari Cuthbert put up the style for sale on her website, starting at $295. "It never occurred to me at that point that her wearing the necklace during the DNC speech would convert to sales or people actually caring that much about the message — for something so subtle having such a big impact," she told CNBC. When she did, though, "immediately, within minutes, we had doubled our revenue for the day — within 30 minutes of the speech." (According to CNN, Obama's 'Vote" necklace was the top-trending Google search in the U.S. in the last hour of the DNC.)
By Chari went on to collaborate with Obama's When We All Vote, designing a version of the necklace for the organization's Vote 4EVER merch collection.
You can shop By Chari's "Vote" necklace here.
Hanifa's Kinshasa Dress
Even though the brand has been around since 2012, Hanifa had a breakout 2020. Many were introduced to designer Anifa Mvuemba's label in May, when her now-famous fully virtual fashion show debuting the Pink Label Congo collection (inspired by the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Mvuemba's parents are from) went viral for its innovative use of 3-D imagery and creative direction. It also introduced what would become one of Hanifa's most recognizable designs: the Kinshasa mini dress, a backless pleated style that's red on the front and yellow and blue in the back — the colors of the Congolese flag.
Since its debut on the digital runway, the dress appeared on magazine covers, in editorials and in many #OOTDs. Unsurprisingly, the $369 garment seen on everyone from Zendaya to Tracee Ellis Ross is sold out — but you can sign up for updates on restocks on its website.
You can find Hanifa's Kinshasa dress here.
Brandon Blackwood's End Systemic Racism Bag
Following the murder of George Floyd and protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. earlier this year, handbag designer Brandon Blackwood released his now-famous End Systemic Racism — or ESR, for short — bag, with a portion of proceeds going towards the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
"I was stuck creatively and exhausted by the daily news," he told Teen Vogue about the origin of the style, which has since sold in the thousands, following an initial order of 509. "I had a pretty solid following and decided I would take this opportunity to make something that could have a direct impact against systemic oppression."
The designer has been working on his namesake label since 2015 (his first collection launched for that spring). His ESR bag takes one of his signature mini boxy silhouettes, and adds a call to action with hardware lettering: "End Systemic Racism." The original retails for $70; there are also snakeskin iterations that go for $300. All are sold out currently.
Blackwood's ESR bag was already massively popular when Kim Kardashian West posted a picture with it on Instagram in September. It simply cemented its position as one of the most viral, impactful items of the year.
You can find Brandon Blackwood's End Systemic Racism bag here.
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