The trends coming to the 2022 Melbourne Fashion Festival

Melbourne Fashion Festival

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted February 22, 2022

As we step out of the lockdown-era activewear and back into the social scene, we look at the pandemic’s impact on fashion trends – and what's coming next.

The Melbourne Fashion Festival (MFF) is fast approaching, which just may be the inspiration many of us need to hop out of the work shirt and tracksuit-pants combo and back into something appropriate for face-to-face interaction.

Dr. Stephen Wigley, Associate Dean for Fashion Enterprise at the School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University, says that "COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed how we view, consume, and express fashion." Although the world is reopening, Dr. Wigley advises that the MFF is bound to reflect styles that are "casual and comfortable" to reflect the pandemic's influence on style for the year ahead.

Alongside COVID-19 impacting trends, with the pandemic perhaps giving pause for reflection, there is a piqued interest in how our clothing is sourced, made and distributed.

So, how does this affect what we wear?

We look at how the last two years have impacted fashion; alongside the resurgence of ‘occasion’ dressing, the 'anything goes' philosophy of the trendsetting youth, and the flipping of sartorial gender norms.

Here is what's in store for clothing trends in 2022. 

The MFF runs from 3-12 March across various venues across Melbourne to celebrate ‘Australian fashion, arts, ideas and creative endeavour for everyone to enjoy.’

Melbourne Fashion Festival 2022 trends

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted fashion?

The last two years have had most of us spending more time within our own four walls, undoubtedly having an impact on how many new clothes we buy and wear. Like everyone, designers are influenced by the world around them, and during the last two years, "brands have been watching the same social, technological, and environmental cues as the rest of us," says Dr. Wigley. 

Having already seen a rise in the athleisure wear trend that “went absolutely mainstream” over the last two years, Dr. Wigley says we are witnessing an enduring trend from the COVID-19 pandemic, where “the move toward more casual and comfortable styles is likely to remain.”

Having worked with brands including Caprice and Country Road, and tutoring many graduates who will be showcasing their looks in the National Graduate Runway Showcase, Dr. Wigley notes that COVID-19's impact on younger generations will also have a huge influence on wider trends.

Generation Z, the generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who are largely responsible for trend-setting at the moment, are “confident in exploring new ways of doing things," he says. In the wake of the pandemic, "they are being more activated, vocal, questioning, and unwilling to compromise. That is terrific not just for the fashion they design, but also how where and how it’s made, how it’s promoted, and how it’s worn.”


It's time to say goodbye to formal tops and pajama bottoms as we make the return to heading out and about. Image: Getty.
Models showcase designs by RMIT Student Sharlee Young on the catwalk at a previous Melbourne Spring Fashion Week runway. Image: Getty.

Cultural shifts are impacting fashion trends in 2022

Sustainability also remains at the forefront of many peoples’ minds, as the spotlight on the environmental and ethical practices in the making and design of clothing is more heavily questioned. “We’ll see environmental and lifestyle influences in just about every garment on display at MFF,” Dr. Wigley advises.

He believes it is not just a want, but a definite ‘need’ moving forward for designers to have a sustainable approach to fashion, which is now in the best interest of tastes and demands from consumers across the board. Dr. Wigley says we can expect to see this reflected at MFF as the “sustainable means of acquiring, using, reusing, and disposing of fashion becomes much more mainstream than it was two or three years ago."  

In terms of other cultural trends, fashion has become more daring and accepted, with more of an "anything goes" philosophy, from body inclusivity to turning a back on so-called ‘gender norms’ when it comes to fashion.

This individualised aesthetic can be seen in the latest sartorial choices, where “blurring gender expectations, interest in global cultures, and transitions in the structure of the fashion industry will inevitably cause what we wear to evolve,” he says.

How will fashion evolve in 2022?

After years spent in activewear or suit tops and tracksuit bottoms alongside expanding waistlines, many may be slightly nervous at the prospect of fitting into old clothes ready to go out and about. But this can also be a chance to debut some new looks, or wear clothes that sat wilfully in the cupboard collecting dust over the past two years. While ‘dressing up’ was once relegated for some fun for a wedding or a glamorous date night, now, going to a restaurant, heading to a fashion event, or commuting to the office can be seen as an ‘occasion.’

“The influences of the past two years will remain,” Dr. Wigley advises, “but balancing that, because the act of ‘going to the office’ or ‘going to a bar’ seems once again a novelty for many, we might see a movement toward people ‘dressing up' to celebrate, to make a point, to impress.”



Comfy and confident will remain at the forefront of fashion for 2022. Image: Getty.
The interest in sustainable fashion will remain, such as eco-friendly fabrics, upcycling and recycled goods in fashion. Image: Getty.
The trends can overlap, such as a comfortable leisure suit that has been ethically and sustainably made. Image: Getty.
Fashion is no longer categorised by sex or gender. Image: Getty.

What fashion items are in and out in 2022?

In: Trends come and go (shoulder pads, anyone?) and Dr. Wigley, like many in the fashion world, believes in the power of a good capsule wardrobe of quality classics. While initially, they may be pricier, if kept for a long time, “they will pay off in longevity for the wearer and [sustainability] for the world.”

Out: While the classics never go out of style, Dr. Wigley has been informed by his fashion students and those in the industry that “skinny jeans are over.”  He also hopes that the drop-crotch trousers that were popular in the late ‘90s and early noughties are not due for a comeback anytime soon.

So, enjoy your final days in your pajamas at home, you can even give them a Marie Kondo-style hug and thank them for their service. But as the future looks brighter ahead, as do our clothes – so when out looking for the latest trends to spruce up your wardrobe, remember that above all, fashion should be fun - so enjoy!