HomeFashionInside the wild ‘puffy’ fashion trend: ‘Everybody’s talking about inflation’

Inside the wild ‘puffy’ fashion trend: ‘Everybody’s talking about inflation’


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Fashionistas are living on cloud nine.

The latest fashion trend is inflation – and, well, it has everything to do with the economy.

Playful puffiness is blowing up and it’s not just for your favorite winter coat; handbags, shoes and entire runway ensembles are subject to the puffed-up fad, which TikTokers are describing as a total “puff-ification.”

“It’s like having a pillowy, squishy human-size shock absorber sitting in your closet, I can’t think of anything more apt to balance the reverberations of the anxiety and whiplash we feel in our current global climate,” fashion content creator Tariro Makoni told The Post, calling the trend “a fascinating response to the precarious climate of our current global condition.”

So, exaggerated puffiness is a jolly caricature of “what’s going on economically,” fashion forecaster and TikToker Mandy Lee said in a TikTok clip. After all, art often imitates life.

Prada’s soft padded nappa leather loafers cost $1,290.
Tiktok / tariromakoni

Pink ballet flat from Prada
Prada also puffed up its staples like the soft padded nappa leather ballerinas, which retail for $925.
Tiktok / tariromakoni

The jovial puffed pieces also play into fashion’s reckoning with silliness. Designers are abandoning starch traditionalism and ushering in experimentation – and even A-listers are in on the fun. As a result, fashion week presentations showcased animal prosthetics, condom mountains and indoor halfpipes.

“I feel like maximalist fashion has been having a moment lately so I think it’ll definitely have a really strong moment,” content creator Caroline Vazzana, who is also the fashionista founder of Making it in Manhattan, told The Post of the emerging trend.

Maximalism – whether it be home decor or closet couture – is bright, cheery and over-the-top, unlike the once-trendy minimalist looks that Kim Kardashian popularized.

However, Vazzana, who is a self-titled “more is more girl,” isn’t so sure the bubbly statement pieces are wardrobe staples, saying they may be more of a short-lived trend than a timeless classic.

“I don’t know if it’ll last forever,” she added.

Inflated full body black outfit from Chenpeng
The inflated looks seem to mimic the current economic reality.
Getty Images

Chenpeng runway show
The avant-garde garments are not ready-to-wear, unlike the pieces provided by Prada and are available to the masses – at a cost.
Getty Images

At Paris fashion week, Comme des Garcons debuted gnome-chic, Viktor&Rolf introduced topsy-turvy haute couture and Chenpeng brought the volume by way of ruffles, tufts and, of course, puff.

Once obsessed with sultry mesh nakedness, the fashion world is in its cartoon era, ballooning with pumped-up silhouettes that sacrifice chic seriousness for childlike play.

“Everybody’s talking about inflation,” Moschino’s designer Jeremy Scott told Vogue in September at the fashion house’s ready-to-wear spring 2023 collection show. “The cost of everything’s going up: housing, food, life. So I took inflation into the collection.”

“Sometimes we feel like we’re drowning,” he added, a fitting sentiment that parallels the brand’s hyperbolic, pool-floaty-inspired styles.

Similarly, Loewe’s spring/summer 2023 collection also featured aerated statement pieces – namely, literal balloon pumps.

Now, we’re seeing this inflatable vision drift go mainstream. MSCHF’s comically clunky big red boots, released last month, have taken the internet by storm – their debut followed Sam Smith’s bulbous HARRI ‘fit at the Brit Awards and Noah Cyrus’ rendition of a high-fashion Michelin man in an all-black, full-body Colors puffer frock.

Alongside Coach’s release of the Pillow Tabby bag – a puffed version of their iconic baguette – Prada is the latest fashion house to imitate inflation. Marketed as “padded,” the Italian fashion house reimagined some of its most popular classics with some cushion, albeit less avant-garde.

Sam Smith at Brit Awards in inflated outfit
A-listers such as singer Sam Smith have flaunted the ballooning fashion statement on the red carpet.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In addition to Prada’s subtle nod to an ever-looming recession, the buoyant-looking pieces also catch the eye, playing into the virality of TikTok’s trendy fashion as of late. In her video, Lee also noted the pumped-up kicks will “pop in photos.”

“Prada puff-ifying some of their most popular items may seem like a risk, but they will photograph amazing, they will grab attention, and they will sell really well,” she stated. 

Makoni told The Post that adding puff to an otherwise doomy world also represents a “childlike and safe environment” as a means of escapism.

But it is part of a larger pattern, the TikToker noted, referencing Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Cocoon bag, which was released in 2009 during – you guessed it – the Great Recession.

“Puff-ification,” she said, “has been around in different eras of fashion that historically coincide with times of global anxiety or unrest.” Instead of rejecting the anxiety-inducing reality of the world around us, consumers are taking it in stride.

“Rather than trying to course correct, I think we’re leaning into the dissonance, and that creates room for all things to coexist in a fascinating way,” Makoni said. In that way, puffiness serves as both the hyperbolic reflection of society spiraling and the pillow-soft cushion that breaks the fall.

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