A Who What Wear Summer Issue wouldn't be complete without a bumper shopping guide, so before we had even decided who our cover star would be or what trends our team would be trying IRL, we knew we'd be bringing you a primer on the cult items for 2022. Gone are the days when It items are solely dictated by a celebrity endorsement or a moment at fashion week. Now, these pieces appear to emerge from almost nowhere thanks to a brand suddenly gaining traction on Instagram or TikTok.
This list includes the big-player luxury fashion brands you might expect, such as Loewe, Chanel, Prada and Hermès. But it was, as always, very important to us that we also featured those small-but-mighty brands that are getting support from some of the biggest editors, buyers and influencers in the industry. There's Tongoro—which was founded by Sarah Diouf, who works exclusively with artisans in Dakar, Senegal, to create magnificent gowns and jumpsuits that all play with exaggerated proportions and statement prints which are a nod to the Wodaabe tribe. Then there's London's new name to know, With Nothing Underneath, which has made the perfect linen shirt. But we must warn you: You just might want to own one in every colour.
We have also been mindful to pick items that feel truly special, expertly crafted or a little different and that you will treasure in your wardrobe for more than just one summer. Whether you're buying a new bikini or a new handbag, you want to think about how these cult pieces will blend within your existing wardrobe and whether you love them because they truly appeal to your aesthetic or you're just getting caught up in the hype.
Keep scrolling to see the 15 items that we think are worthy of all the attention they are getting this summer.
Balenciaga's new handbag, Le Cagole, is a reimagining of the house's original It bag—the City bag. It has all of the original trademarks of the bag that Kate Moss and the Olsens wore back in the early '00s, including the studs and crack-effect leather. The shape, however, has been reworked. The Le Cagole has a crescent silhouette and a punchy colour palette, with bright greens and neons proving the most popular. As with the original, it's won over the young Hollywood set, including Kendall Jenner, Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid.
Tongoro has just been stocked on Net-a-Porter as part of its Net Sustain edit, just one of many signs that the brand is on the edge of a sharp rise. Tongoro works with artisans and tailors in Dakar, Senegal, and aims to help bolster online fashion that is made in Africa. "Today, I know what a girl or woman wants and wants to feel like when she dresses, and I can easily translate that in clothing without having to only use what we call African fabrics," Diouf explained to Nataal. “Tongoro is an African brand that dresses globally, and that will hopefully help the 'made in Africa' label to become a gauge of quality as it grows worldwide." What we love the most about the designs are the powerful silhouettes and dramatic sleeves.
We have one word for you: Y2K. Benedetta Bruzziches's designs look like they are straight from Paris Hilton's wardrobe from 2004, and we say that with the most love. The crystal bags all have a signature clasp and come in beautiful, punchy shades, but these aren't just gimmicky accessories. They are timeless additions to your wardrobe. They are all made with real love and care, as the factory in Tuscia, Italy, is a collective of artisans overseen by Benedetta and her brother Agostino. You've got to love a family business.
It won't be a surprise to see Chanel on a list of cult buys, but this summer, we're not talking about the sandals or handbags. It's the swimwear which is causing a real splash. You might be able to visualise the likes of Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell modelling Chanel swimwear on the runway back in the '90s, and for the spring/summer 2022 collection, Virginie Viard went back to the archive with halter-neck swimsuits and bikinis. Thanks to the ribbed detailing and sporty cuts, these all have a '90s-supermodel air to them.
Photo:@handinfire; @lucywilliams02; @indyabrown
We are ready to declare 2022 the year of Christopher Esber. The Australian designer has honed a really unique aesthetic with the use of strappy detailing, playful cut-outs and paintbox brights. He launched on Net-a-Porter two years ago, and we've lost count of the number of celebrities and It girls we've seen wearing his daring dresses. It'd be easier to mention the people who haven't worn his designs.
Daphine has become a real industry favourite thanks to the distinctive but simple designs which are true modern classics. The newcomers, the tennis necklace and bracelet, are perhaps our favourites. This style of jewellery was inspired by Chris Evert, who lost her diamond bracelet during the 1978 U.S. Open and insisted on stopping play until it was found. We don't blame her.
Asceno is all about low-key luxury and understated elegance, so all the pieces have a focus on comfort and beautiful fabrics. We've suddenly noticed that we are greeted by this beautiful shorts set every time we open Instagram, and with the print and simple cut, what is not to love?
Hermès's Oran sandals are modern classics, but the style has had a chunky makeover, and the updated version, the Chypre, has Velcro straps and a chunky heel. These are, however, the Birkins of the sandal world, so don't expect to just be able to order a pair online. Stylist and shopper Alexa Eshaghian says, "These are the It sandals of the season. At first, I saw these and didn't fully understand the buzz. Once I got my hands on a rare suede pair, I realized what the hype was all about. They're hard to find (which automatically entices everyone to hunt down a pair), fun to style and comfy AF."
Photo:@ChampagneMani; @Bettinalooney; @FisayoLonge
Isa Boulder swimwear is absolutely beautiful, so it is no surprise it has the following that it does. The pieces are all carefully cut and sewn in-house by a team of local artisans using traditional dyes and printing methods, so the quality is truly exceptional. The lime-green and lilac satin bikinis have been particular crowd-pleasers amongst tastemakers such as Fisayo Longe and Bettina Looney.
If you see a hat on your Instagram feed, chances are it is from Lack of Color. Jenner just wore a floral-printed bucket hat from the Australian brand, but it also creates incredible straw sun hats too.
We were torn about which Loewe item to pick this summer, as the logo tank tops and basket bags are monster hits this year, but we settled on pieces with the brand's blur print, which is an elevated take on tie-dye. The dress sold out almost instantly—which was helped by the fact that Jenner wore it earlier this summer.
Photo:@duckiethot; @DuaLipa; @IndyaBrown
Louisa Ballou is having a real moment in 2022, as her resortwear has been seen on everyone from Dua Lipa to Duckie Thot. She plays with daring cut-outs and body-con silhouettes. However, the use of vibrant prints and colour makes her designs feel really modern and fresh. Her spring collection, Odyssey, has a really artistic feel. It's inspired by landscape photography and art and uses bright pinks, oranges and bold blues.
Photo:@annawinck; @handinfire; @theindiaedit
We couldn't talk about cult items for 2022 without mentioning the Prada woven tote. The bag first launched last summer and immediately sold out everywhere. It has a raffia fabrication, practical tote-bag dimensions, the signature Prada logo and many colourways on offer, including sky blue, white, tan, bubblegum pink and a vibrant yellow.
Named after the Spanish word "taller," meaning workshop or studio, and "marmo," the Italian word for marble, the Milan-based label was founded in 2013 by designers Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea. With its distinctively nostalgic spirit, Taller Marmo specialises in luxurious eveningwear, specifically kaftan silhouettes that hark back to pieces worn by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren in the 1960s and '70s. Taller Marmo has quickly become the go-to luxury brand for statement-making party looks.
Photo:@withnothingunderneath; @LucyWilliams02; @speddingemma
With Nothing Underneath claims to make "the perfect shirt," and we have to say it comes as close as a brand can. The linen shirt-and-shorts sets have been flying out of the store, and with beautiful stripes and an expensive-looking colour palette, we're not at all surprised. The brand just opened its first-ever shop on Elizabeth Street in London, which just so happens to be around the corner from our office, so many of our editors have indulged in a lunchtime treat.