They say trends tend to come and go, but as transient as they may seem, I can tell you first-hand that certain trends can feel virtually inescapable. And I mean that virtual part literally.
As someone who spends much of their day scrolling (I'm a social media editor, so it comes with the territory), I'm often struck by just how omnipresent a certain item or trend can become on Instagram once it starts to gain traction. Whether it be on the streets of Paris, the rooftops of New York or the parks of London, social media's most popular items manage to transcend borders and appear on feeds across the globe. Sometimes, it's a collective mood that feeds a cult item's success, but there's no denying the drip-drip influence of the digital sphere we spend time immersed in.
Last summer, it was hard to open an app without seeing an image of London-based indie brand House of Sunny's green knit Hockney Dress. Worn by influencers and celebrities alike (hello, Kendall Jenner!), the midi was so popular that it managed to land itself a coveted spot on Lyst's Hottest Products Index. This past winter, Instagram was flooded with images of oversize, multicolour cardigans—aptly named colossal knits—thanks to Northern Irish designer Hope Macaulay. As it stands today, her brand has over 178k followers on Instagram and has been worn by the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid. Not bad for a designer who only graduated in 2018.
After seeing a particular carousel of items featured so regularly on my feed, I thought it was time I tried to understand the hype and trial these trending—or, dare I say, viral—items myself. I'm not usually one to jump on a bandwagon, and you'll often find me in much more understated looks, but who better than a social media editor to put these IG-worthy looks to the test?
For the occasion, I turned to fashion rental companies Endless Wardrobe and Hurr, asking them to help me track down the most 'gram-worthy pieces I could find. From Marcia's Tchikiboum Cut-Out Dress, which has been the item du jour amongst the French influencer set, to Kai Collective's ever-popular Gaia Dress, the rental companies definitely delivered. But how did the looks stack up on the streets of East London? Keep scrolling for my honest opinions on what it's like to wear Instagram's biggest trends offline.
Musier Paris Tie-Front Blouse
It's hardly surprising that this Alma knit—hailing from influencer Anne-Laure Mais's brand Musier Paris—has become popular amongst the fashion set. Practically anything Mais wears turns to social media gold, so it's no shock to see so many other arbiters of taste following suit.
The interesting silhouette and tie-front detail on this top make it instantly recognisable online and in real life, and it certainly ticks a few of this season's trends (crop tops, waist ties and peekaboo details) in one fell swoop.
What I loved about this piece is that the top can be tied up in multiple ways to offer more or less coverage, depending on your mood. For this article, I styled the top in the same way I've seen on IG: with a tie at the bust. For a more demure aesthetic, I'd go for a crossover look without the knot at the front. (It's much more bra-friendly, too.) While I might not be jumping to wear this look to the office, it's definitely a fun item to rent from Endless Wardrobe for drinks with friends or a night out on the town, especially when paired with simple wide-leg trousers. It's a yes from me.
Marcia Tchikiboum Cut-Out Dress
Here at Who What Wear, we've dubbed this the "no-knickers dress" for obvious reasons. The item, however, was rented, so for the purpose of this photoshoot, I've used a strategically placed arm to cover what otherwise would have been quite the obvious VPL. (Call me old-fashioned; I don't mind.)
I won't lie. There's a certain level of confidence needed to pull off a dress like this, and while it might not necessarily be for everyone, I do have to commend those brave enough to try it. It's a showstopper, alright, though maybe not the most practical item to wear down to the local pub. I felt myself nervously cover up any time another patron walked by, so I'd say this look might be best kept for dinner parties with close friends or simply anyone you wouldn't mind being around if a dreaded wardrobe malfunction were to occur. Perhaps it's no coincidence then that I've yet to see an image online of this dress worn out and about.
Molby the Label Tilda Dress
Particularly popular amongst our country's influencer contingent this year, independent British brand Molby the Label has seen its cute Tilda Dress plastered all over social media. The contrasting colours and gingham weave make it instantly eye-catching, and given the brand's made-to-order model, I'm hardly surprised the fit looks just perfect on everyone. I don't often wear pink and thought this look might have been slightly too frou-frou for me, but the moment I put it on, I fell in love. It's so wearable and just perfect for summer picnics.
The dress retails for £130, which feels so reasonable considering each garment is handmade for each customer. Having spoken to the brand's founder about Molby's slow-fashion ethos, I can personally vouch for how passionate she is about offering an antidote to fast fashion. If you're looking to toughen the look up a bit, might I suggest wearing the dress alongside chunky flat boots much like Faye Ellaby has done above.
House of Sunny Hockney Dress
It's not often that you spot a Jenner in a dress that retails for less than £100. Though, spotting Kendall Jenner in the House of Sunny Hockney Dress last summer merely solidified what every fashion editor in London already knew: It was *the* dress of the season. And its popularity shows no sign of slowing down. Already this spring, we've seen the return of this dress on our feeds alongside several new-season iterations in the fun, colourful patterns we've come to expect from House of Sunny.
A dress this bold requires very little styling, so I wore it alongside basic sandals for my local jaunt. In real life, I was also somewhat surprised by the dress's texture. Having seen it online umpteen times, I made the assumption that it was your regular, run-of-the-mill stretchy jersey, but in reality, the dress is made from a soft, almost fluffy yarn fabric with a really unique intarsia pattern knitted into it rather than printed on top. It was definitely more fluid and more comfortable than I imagined. Win-win.
Hope Macaulay Colossal Knit
Upon arrival, it was hard to ignore just how heavy this incredible Hope Macaulay piece is. I had never thought about its weight when seeing it online, and it almost felt as if I was wearing a weighted blanket—in the best way possible. Influencers have been styling the item casually with jeans. Though, I'd be wary to say it replaces a jacket. The knit's open weave tends to let the air through, so I'd say this look is best kept for early spring and might feel less practical in the depths of winter when worn solo.
The second thing that struck me about this jacket was just how delicate the item was. Each Hope Macaulay knit is handmade to order, and you can really tell how much time, love and skill have gone into creating this oversize rainbow piece. It truly is a statement maker and photographs well, so it makes total sense that it would become an Insta hit.
Kai Collective Gaia Dress
Let me tell you ladies: This Kai Collective Gaia Dress is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and I would go so far as to say that's precisely why it's been so wildly popular. If you're looking to stand out, almost any piece from this London-based label will do it. I've followed the brand's founder Fisayo Longe for some time on social media and have been desperate to get my hands on one of her dresses for a while. She makes them look so good. The marble print is unique and sets the brand apart, but it's also refreshing to see that these It pieces are being produced in a wider range of more inclusive sizes. Thankfully, fashion rental site Hurr was able to make my wishes come true.
What I didn't spot online, though, was just how sheer the fabric is. I layered the dress over a black bodysuit but was hyper-aware of the fact you could see everything underneath. For those who want to cover up a little more, I'd suggest a form-fitting slip dress instead.
Next up, these are the biggest spring/summer 2021 trends you need to know.