12 Ways Fashion Was Defined in the 2010s

Ten years ago, the word emoji looked like a typo, and the concept of canceled applied mostly to schools on snow days. A decade—this decade!—later, the world has reprogrammed its playbooks for power, desire, and beauty, creating new paradigms that spiral through cyberspace at the speed of light—or at least at the speed of Kylie Cosmetics sales. Where does the fashion world stand at the end of a tumultuous, transformative decade? These 12 moments give us some hints at where we’re going, thanks to a trail of Instagram crumbs that show us where we’ve been.

Prev1 of 12

The Insta-fication of Fashion


Speaking of Instagram, it’s not hyperbolic to say the social network changed the world—or rather, #THEWORLD—and certainly fashion too. What began as a way to brag you were at a Jay-Z concert became a daily stream of brands, trends, and pixel-glossed bodies that turned us all into avatars playing a long, lucrative style game. Brands like Reformation and Alyx Studio became millennial staples through a trail of posts and likes; fashion shows transformed into multimillion-dollar spectacles designed solely to look cool on a handheld livestream; influencer became a career aspiration instead of a word that wasn’t actually in the dictionary.

Inevitably, the platform’s well-respected fashion empress, Eva Chen, went from being an industry phenom to a celeb in her own right, thanks to both her tastemaking power and her seriously adorable small children. As for fashion itself, it was urged to think inside Instagram’s box, which might explain why leopard-print skirts and coats—not little black dresses and handbags—are the key staples of stylish women’s closets. Hey, a dynamic print looks way better in those “candid” street style photos.

Prev1 of 12