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Met Gala 2019: How Camp Fashion
Is Influencing Online Shopping

Following the 2019 edition of the Met Gala, Lyst’s data team has compiled a new trend report identifying and highlighting some of the ways in which this year’s theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” is already influencing online shopping. To compile this report, Lyst compared the online shopping behaviour of more than 5 million shoppers per month who are searching, browsing and buying fashion across 12,000 designers and stores online, along with social media mentions and engagement statistics worldwide since the beginning of the year.

Framed around Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp,’” this year’s exhibition is culturally pertinent, showing pieces that have elements of “irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, excess, extravagance, nostalgia, and exaggeration.” While definitions of the word do vary depending on the source and make it hard to pinpoint where “Camp” starts and where it ends, Sontag’s view on the concept — which she defines as the love of the unnatural, of artifice, and of exaggeration — goes hand in hand with the trends that have continuously been driving demand worldwide on Lyst.

Oversized “ugly” sneakers, loud prints, ironic designs and outrageous moments on the runways and red carpet are all essential parts of what makes the Camp aesthetic, which the author describes as “playful, anti-serious […] One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.” Following one of the most extravagant red carpets in Met Gala history, Lyst’s data team has monitored the recent spikes in demand created by Camp fashion trends. Ahead, see how this year’s Met Gala theme has been influencing online shopping behaviours.

Often extravagant and theatrical, fashion goes hand in hand with Camp; and Gucci, whose creative director Alessandro Michele served as co-chair alongside Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour, serves as the perfect example for what this year’s Met Gala theme represents. “There are frequently huge misunderstandings about the real meaning of this word,” explained Michele. “Camp really means the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture; it is not kitsch.” From its playful fashion shows to its colourful advertising campaigns and much talked about celebrity collaborations, no label does camp quite like the Italian brand.

Both whimsical and ostentatious, Alessandro Michele’s collections have included over-the-top silhouettes, ironic pieces, excessive use of logos, and kitschy prints, embracing an aesthetic that celebrates the power of camp. When the designer sent models walking down the runway carrying life-size replicas of their own heads, they became in hot demand with “Gucci heads” being searched for over 1,000 times last October — and the look appeared on this year’s red carpet, being brought to life by Jared Leto. Meanwhile, the ironic side of camp fashion can also be found in the brand’s “Guccy” logo, which has been a popular addition to its most recent collections: over the past year, online searches went up by 450% for the “Guccy” t-shirt and 250% for the “Guccy” hoodie.

While the Italian brand clearly fits into what defines Camp fashion, many other labels can also be put in this category: Off White, with its ironic “For Walking” boots and “Dress” dress; Viktor & Rolf, with a statement-making Spring 2019 Couture collection that featured oversized slogans embroidered on Victorian-inspired tulle gowns, and which grew the brand’s social impressions by 3,794% in the space of a week; the Kim Kardashian-approved logo-emblazoned Fendi tights, which sold out within weeks after she shared a photo of herself wearing a pair. Molly Goddard’s now infamous pink tulle dress, which was worn by actress Jodie Comer in the BBC’s Killing Eve and drove a 134% rise in searches for the brand over the past 12 months, also is camp.

Described by Susan Sontag as “the metaphor of life as a theater,” camp fashion has long been the norm on the red carpet. From Lady Gaga’s meat dress to Bjork’s swan dress and the experimental suits of musical icons such as Prince, David Bowie, Elton John, and Harry Styles, uninhibited sartorial choices have made many a headline — and they are now influencing shopping behaviours. When Emily Blunt attended the Screen Actors Guild Awards in a pink Michael Kors gown with ruffled sleeves that were compared to a vulva, the brand’s social mentions went up by 1,888% in just a few hours, and searches for Michael Kors dresses immediately increased by 20% on Lyst. Meanwhile, the vintage Mugler Couture gown worn by Cardi B to the 2019 Grammy Awards saw online searches for Mugler designs go up more than 669% in just 4 hours.

Images: Adam Katz Sinding and Getty Images

Omnipresent in pop culture, on the red carpet, and in the luxury market, Camp has long been inspiring fashion trends, both on and off the runways. From ruffles and feathers to sequin and glitter, fashion’s playfulness has made Camp accessible to everyone, sometimes ignoring what is deemed practical, sensible, or even appropriate. In fact, these trends have been on the rise. Compared to the same time last year, searches for ruffled pieces have increased by 20%, while the interest for feathers, which were very popular on this year’s red carpet, has increased by 93%. Demand for sequins and glitter, two popular festival trends, also continues to rise: it was up 199% and 132% year on year for sequins and glitter pieces respectively.

However, no Camp trend has been quite as powerful and dominant as the “ugly” sneaker. Constantly featuring in the most searched products on Lyst, “ugly” sneakers such as the affordable Fila Disruptor or the chunky Nike M2K Tekno continue to drive demand worldwide. In fact, they even made an appearance at this year’s Met Gala: Serena Williams wore a pair of highlighter green Nike x Off-White Air Force One sneakers with her yellow Atelier Versace gown. Other “ugly” shoes have also been dominating searches over the past few years. The Gucci fur loafers have been driving consistent demand on Lyst since their release as part of the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection; the Prada flame heels sold out within minutes and were viewed more than 45,000 times last August; meanwhile, there were over 5,000 searches for the outrageous Saint Laurent Yeti boots — which have been worn by the likes of Rihanna and Naomi Campbell — in the month of their release.

Meme-worthy products are also another example of Camp fashion. When Balenciaga unveiled its official collaboration with footwear brand Croc in October 2017, the playful yet controversial shoes immediately became the subject of worldwide media attention, and hype was quick to be translated into demand: their first release sold out online before they were even officially released. The giant Jacquemus La Bomba hat, which was the subject of much controversy thanks to fashion industry watchdog @DietPrada, sold out worldwide and kickstarted an Instagram trend for hiding behind big hats. The Vetements Spider-man Glove dress, one of many meme-fashion hits by designer Demna Gvasalia, was viewed over 20,000 times last September. Meanwhile, Ugg’s Instagram friendly “Fluff Yeah” slides created a 25% increase in searches for the brand following their release, consequently becoming the sixth hottest women’s product in the Lyst Index Q4.

The Met Gala took place on Monday, May 6 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, with a red carpet that will undoubtedly go down in fashion history.

Images: Adam Katz Sinding and Getty Images

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