As this year winds down we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2016 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies and more.
The internet and social media have sped up the trend cycle so much that it seems like fads die just as quickly as they’re born these days. Some trends have staying power, of course — the all-red sneakers craze lasted a lifetime, urgh — but these days it feels like something’s dead by the time it hits Instagram.
Nine times out of ten a trend isn’t actually anything new, just something that’s been recycled from the past, which kinda makes the whole process seem a bit silly. If you wear mega-puffy DC skate sneakers in 2016, are you 15 years behind the times, or are you the first person to bring them back?
This time last year, we listed the biggest trends of 2015, and had a guess at which ones would stick around, and which ones would be dead 365 days later.
So, now that 2016 is drawing to a close, let’s take a look at which trends from last year are still going, which ones are on their way out and which are dead already.
Then: Thanks to Kanye West (who else?), the Chelsea boot surged in popularity, and tons of sandy-hued suede numbers appeared on the feet of style-conscious guys all over the world. They were most commonly paired with ripped jeans and a leather jacket, for some Saint Laurent-esque je ne sais quois.
Now: Dying, but still dope. The fashion in-crowd was more about Gucci loafers this year, and a ton of streetwear guys were wooed by the Yeezy-approved combat boot.
That doesn’t mean you should be ditching Chelsea boots as your go-to choice for some on-foot chicness, though. They’re just as sexy now, in 2016, as they were in 2015. They’ll probably still be dope in 2066, to be honest.
The ’90s Sportswear Revival
Then: Once-forgotten sportswear brands like FILA, Kappa, Umbro and Diadora staged grand comebacks, riding the ’90s revival in an attempt to regain some lost ground in a world dominated by Nike and adidas.
We saw tons of huge logos, baggy silhouettes and bold color-blocking, as obscure labels dug up classics from their archives and reintroduced them into 2015’s sportswear market. The nostalgia resonated with a lot of people, but we’re not really sure if there’s any longevity to this sort of thing, and guys in the apparel business agree, too.
Kids who are coming of age now will soon be looking back to the ’00s for inspiration, and older guys will enter the dreaded *grown-up phase* of oxford shirts and expensive-but-boring watches (AKA death).
Now: It’s not looking good. The throwback ’90s vibes will always be popular among millennials, but for younger and older generations, there’s really not much reason to dress like a tracksuit-donning Will Smith circa The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. We predict a slow but steady decline in the ’90s revivalism.
Natural Leather Sneakers
Then: Last year, cult Japanese label Hender Scheme wowed sneakerheads with its jaw-dropping natural leather homages to iconic sneaker designs. The brand produced its own handcrafted versions of shoes like the Nike Air Force 1, Air Jordan IV and adidas Micropacer in beautiful natural leathers, which promised to get better and better with age (it’s what leather nerds call a “patina”).
It wasn’t long before the sportswear big guns were producing their own versions of the trend, which created a bizarre situation where Hender Scheme was being ripped off by the same brands it was inspired by in the first place.
Now: Kinda still going, but not for much longer. There was a smattering of natural leather kicks this year. Vans did some “Vachetta” sneakers in October, and NikeLab dropped a similarly plush AF1 in January, but the natural leather wave died down big time this year. Hender Scheme is still killing it though, don’t worry.
Then: Another trend Kanye started. Key to YEEZY Season 1 (and 2, and 3) were the garment-washed fabrics in muddy, earthy tones — sand, olive, clay etc. — that gave Kanye’s collection that worn-in, disheveled feel.
Unsurprisingly, the streetwear landscape was soon flooded with similar fabrics, as copycat brands and trend-savvy fast fashion retailers jumped on the trend en masse.
Now: Dead. The thing is with Kanye, is anything the guy touches instantly becomes coveted by thousands and thousands of people, so it didn’t take long for YEEZY Season’s earthy, scruffy fabrics to get real old, real quick.
And now for the trends that survived 2016:
Then: 2015 was the year of the minimalist sneaker. Anyone and everyone discovered the joys of Common Projects (even though we’ve been writing about them for nearly ten years, just saying), while low-key adidas silhouettes like the Stan Smith and the Ultra Boost flew off the shelves when they appeared in colorless colorways.
Now: Pretty much everyone has an all-white pair of sneakers in their wardrobe, and for good reason: they’ll look good with absolutely anything. People might get distracted by new technology and whacky colors, but don’t expect footwear brands to stop producing crisp white kicks anytime soon. We predict this one will last, like, a hundred years.
Then: Ripped jeans were, and still are, an integral part of the grungewave uniform, and trend-setting streetwear brands like Fear Of God, Off-White and 424 went in hard on the shredded denim last year.
Now: Alive and well. Pretty much every rapper and mega-famous streetwear type has holes all over their jeans these days, and the trend has spilled over to tacky NBA players, too.
It’s a move that’s looked good since basically the dawn of time, and it’s an easy way to add a bit of faux-rebellious edge to an outfit. So it’ll be a while before ripped jeans leave the fashion landscape, we’re guessing. Let’s say, a year.
Then: They’ve been around forever, but pin badges had a moment in 2015, as guys gleefully plastered their jackets in tiny bits of enamel shaped like sneakers, rappers and emojis. Labels like Pintrill and Good Worth used the humble pin to convey tongue-in-cheek messages and IRL nods to internet culture, allowing guys to have fun customizing their outfits without breaking the bank.
Now: Pins always felt like a bit of a throwaway novelty, the sort of thing people can buy on a whim and discard just as easily. They’ll always be a fun way to customize your outfit, so people will still keep using them — probably not with crying Drake faces and prayer hands emojis, though.
The Roadman Look
Then: When grime went global, the genre took its rugged, streetwise dress codes with it. The “roadman” uniform of tracksuits, side bags and Air Max sneakers experienced new life in places far, far beyond Grime’s East London roots.
Rappers discovered the joys of every hooligan’s favorite brand, Stone Island, and A$AP Nast even beefed with Travis Scott over who discovered the label first, which is an absolutely hilarious spectacle for anyone from the UK. Drake, meanwhile, sauntered round Wimbledon tennis tournament in a Roadman-worthy ensemble, and even got a tattoo paying tribute to Skepta’s Boy Better Know crew.
Now: Drake and the like have moved on, obviously, and Skepta’s less-than-amazing Konnichiwa probably didn’t help give grime much longevity on the global stage, but the roadman look will always be relevant in its British heartlands. It’s been going strong in parts of Europe for years, too.
Then: In 2015, the dad cap replaced the five-panel and snapback as the streetwear scene’s hat of choice. Dad caps are basically your average baseball cap, just like that one your dad wears on holiday (get it?), and much like the pin craze, lots of upcoming brands used them as a way of conveying cheeky messages: slogans, emojis, Gucci pool slides and what have you.
Now: The novelty meme-adorned hat craze might have died down (it was bound to), but the dad cap is still around. Baseball caps have been classics for ages — how many Yankees hats do you see on the streets? — so it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing the back of them any time soon.
Then: Splashes of pink, fuchsia, peach and rose entered the streetwear palette in 2015, and we soon saw the color everywhere: on the backs of rappers, in lookbooks and all over Instagram. It made a welcome change from the neutral grays and beiges that were popular in previous seasons, and a fabulous nail in the coffin of the tedious all-black-everything craze that dominated the streets a few years ago.
Now: Pink is still — and always will be — a vibe, but the streetwear scene has moved on to orange as the peacock’s color of choice. Rihanna’s Anti merch line was big on the hi-vis vibes, and Russell Westbook took the color mainstream when he was snapped wearing a bright orange Vetements longsleeve.
Times may have changed, but pink will always be a great way to inject a bit of sassiness into your outfit.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole.
For more end of year content, check out the best TV shows on Netflix in 2016.