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Scroll on any social media app, and it's hard not to feel like everyone you know is in Europe right now. And whether it's Bella Hadid-style vacation photos or "what I'm bringing to Europe with me" haul videos, fashion's latest ultimate flex seems to be escaping the United States. (Considering the current American political climate...)

While both vacation wear and European style have always been heavily influential in the global fashion industry, social platforms have catapulted them into mainstream day-to-day summer attire in 2022. Even if you're not vacationing in Europe, you might "manifest it" by wearing your vacation skirt around your hometown or turning off the AC in your Virginia home to "live an Italian summer."

According to Instagram, in the past 90 days, the hashtag #EuropeanStyle grew by over 40% on the platform; #EuropeTrip grew by over 25%. This, argues Larissa Gargaro, Meta's Fashion Creators Strategic Partner Manager, is due in equal parts to more people traveling after some pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the rise of the #GRWM trend and the return of fully in-person fashion weeks. In the U.S., it's another example of escapist styling, much like the cottagecore trend that has taken over our feeds for the last two years.

"Europe has always been romanticized, and this rings true with luxury fashion especially – there's something idyllic about dressing in the style of these places, particularly in the summer months," says Gargaro. "Although the sociopolitical climate is unsteady everywhere, the trend definitely has to do with a desire to escape the reality of what's happening in the U.S. and embody the energy and spirit of someplace else."

Gargaro notes that fashion has always traveled more than any other vertical "because fashion is a form of expression that can break language barriers."

"What a French creator posts from her weekend trip to Marseille can influence an American in the Hamptons or a Brazilian in Rio," she says. Gargaro expects this to continue and evolve — into more experimental and escapist vacation wear (one day dressing "goth," the next day wearing maximalist prints and colors), more transformative or purpose-filled travel experiences (like going to workshops or spending time in nature), and vacationcore entering the digital avatar space (say, with Meta's digital clothing store).

Other industry trends, such as the vintage revival we've seen grow and grow over the past few years, have only exacerbated the popularity of vacationcore. According to Noelle Sciacca, The RealReal's Fashion Lead, there's been an uptick in interest for European designers in the resale market, which can be traced back to vacationcore. 

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"Gen Z and Millennials have doubled their searches for vintage Roberto Cavalli," she says. "These mid-length dresses and Y2K halter or one-shoulder tops are doing really well for us." Also big: bold colors and prints. 

"When you're dressing for a European vacation, you're almost tapping into this alter ego of your personal style," she says. "It's different from your everyday normal pieces. It really gives us an opportunity to jump outside of our style, comfort zone and our regular outfit routine."

Of course, the elephant in the room is that not everyone can afford a vacation abroad, never mind a full wardrobe of elevated resortwear. Like most things in the fashion industry, this is where vacationcore or "europecore" has become peak social media currency. 

After 2020 saw a shift in influencer and celebrity culture as we know it — with people growing tired of out-of-touch posts — there has been a pivot towards experiences surpassing products as the ultimate flex online: Dua Lipa now "shitposts" blurry party photo dumps and Iris Law shows us a sneak peek into her "making lunch" on a family vacation.

For regular, non-celebrity people, Natalie Kingham, a fashion consultant who previously worked as buying director for MatchesFashion, recommends thinking long-term about your vacation wardrobe. 

"The kinds of shopping habits that I see are people resisting buying things all summer because they have so much from the year before and the year before that, especially if you buy wisely and invest in good fabrics," she says. "However, customers do tend to update it slightly every year, even if it's just one great bikini or new sandals. It just freshens everything up." Kingham also recommends supporting local artisans as you travel, instead of doing a Shein haul right before your flight.

Kingham doesn't think "vacationcore" or "europecore" are going anywhere — neither is our desire to escape our day-to-day realities through playing dress-up. This, however, doesn't mean you need to be in the South of France this summer to experience some much-needed dopamine dressing. Rubber shoes, stacking your necklaces, floaty prairie skirts and matching co-ords are no longer reserved for holidays. Just like cottagecore, it's all about a state of mind. 

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