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Since childhood, the fantasy worlds of animation movies have been a source of happiness for all of us, so it’s no surprise that cartoons have made their way into our closets too. Did you have a favourite Disney princess dress that you wore? Or were you the kid who put on the same Simpsons T-shirt on repeat?
Unfortunately, as we reach adulthood, our favourite fantasy clothes give up their closet space for more practical items, and they become part of a more intimate category of clothing reserved for home along with pyjamas and lingerie. There are obviously exceptions to this rule though, like those guys that are always seen wearing a Marvel t-shirt. Nevertheless, Tweety-bird underwear is still much more commonly sought after by adults than say, Cinderella slippers. At least that used to be the case…
The crossover between fantasy and fashion saw its beginnings when several major fashion houses chose to take inspiration from the world of anime. When the MSCHF “Astro Boy” boots went viral on the internet, this was the first indication that fashion’s interest in the world of fantasy had reached a whole new level. This is how “cartooncore”, animated fantasy-inspired fashion, became the most talked about trend in the 2023 spring/summer season.
The fresh feel of the cartooncore trend can be considered a welcome antidote to the current environmental, social, economic, and human rights crises, political uncertainty, and overall tone of pessimism that lingers in the air of today’s world. In the fashion world, we’re slowly stepping back from the classic, elegant silhouettes we’re used to seeing, and making room for more colour and extravagance. According to the @ChaosWintour instagram page this trend “is a response to the influencers and celebrities flaunting their wealth during the covid-19 pandemic. People were angered by the top 1%’s use of private jets, luxury vacations, and Birkin bag purchases that they were showing off in the midst of a global pandemic. In this environment, cartoon-inspired outfits are just the dopamine boost, and mental escape that we all continuously need.”
At the same time, the cartooncore trend probably wouldn’t have popped off the way it did, if it hadn’t been for the previous revival of the Y2K (year 2000) trend, which has become a full-on craze. The Y2K nostalgia brought back Spice Girls-inspired neon baby tees and microskirts, and Blumarine candy-pink accessories. In the midst of this mindset, it's no surprise that the cartoon-inspired collections from Moschino and Thom Browne, as well as a full-on Ariel-themed collection by Blumarine became some of the biggest hits among the 2023 spring/summer collections.
Beyond the runway, many luxury brands followed in the footsteps of brands like Bottega Veneta and Maison Margiela by recreating this fantasy trend through quilted bags and accessories.
The cartooncore trend is yet another step in the direction of individuality being a widely accepted thing, creating a similar atmosphere to when kids wear the same Spiderman or Snow White costume shamelessly day after day, without even giving a thought to what anybody else is going to think. This new fashion trend is the newest manifestation of happiness, which inspires us all to step out of our comfort zones. Do you accept this challenge? (In a perfect world, this question probably wouldn’t even need to be asked, but beyond a certain point, social pressure seems to outweigh individuality.)
Click here and check out Spark's cartooncore inspired collection.
Cristina & Kamilla
Source: Vogue Italia, @ChaosWintour