when will the bow bubble pop?
and what I think will blow up next.
🕊️ Ceasefire Now in Gaza 🕊️
A few bow hall-of-famers come to mind. The Simone Rocha blood red teardrop bows. The Sandy Liang mini bows peppered through long hair. The Sandy Liang x Baggu bow bag, aka the collab that launched a thousand ships. That one croissant with the blue ribbon woven through its laminated buttery layers. Girl everything. Coquette everything. Doing mundane things but in a Sofia Coppola way.
I’m fascinated by the sheer virality of the bow trend and its symbiotic relationship with “girlhood” aesthetics. Very rarely do trends seen on the runway trickle down en masse with such sustained staying power. The magic of the bow is really in its simplicity…anyone with access to string/thread/ribbon can DIY the trend. It’s infinitely riff-able.
2023 has also given us juicy bow discourse. “Bow Tax” is now a part of our lexicon (file under Girl Math), thanks to Laura Pitcher’s piece for The Cut. She also wrote a piece in September posing the question—"Have We Officially Reached Peak Ribbon?”—attributing the bow’s strong momentum to the continued release of coquette/girlhood aesthetics.
My prediction is that December will be the trend apex before fashion moves on, hungry for the next symbol of the zeitgeist. With the holidays already being a traditionally bow-centric season, we’ll get one last hurrah: Christmas trees covered in pink bows, a cheeky naked Christmas ham wearing an ironic bow (someone’s gotta do it), gift haul TikToks of girls drinking bow champagne flutes showing off their bow Lisa Say Gah sweaters. Deck the halls with bows indeed.
Emily Stochl of Pre-Loved Podcast chimed in on Threads (where I post my half-baked Substack ideas) with the same theory: “One last surge of bows post-holidays (when everyone is flush with bows from holiday packaging) and then, poof!”
She’s a classic and will always be around, but the current level of hype will fade. And just because trends are going to change, doesn’t mean you should stop wearing bows if you like them. The reason why I write about trends is because it’s fun and interesting to share our observations on how the collective mood is shifting, and ultimately how it will manifest via fashion. The goal is never to try and dress as “on-trend” as possible.
So, what’s next after bows? Consider the knot. An interlacing of cord or rope. Probably the oldest technology, pre-dating the wheel. A bow or a ribbon is really just an elemental version of a knot, right? There’s a whole universe of potential in knots, and here are three ways I see it manifesting in fashion.
Chinese Knot Motifs
I can’t help but make the connection between ribbons and these Chinese knot tassels. It’s part of a much richer textile tradition, and I think they’re perfectly poised to be a relevant design motif for Chinese-American fashion designers (wouldn’t it be so cool if Sandy went this route?! I mean, picture these tassels as earrings with inlaid pink gems…or the mary jane pointes with frog knot closures…)
Modern chinoiserie brand Dawang is already incorporating this design motif via embroidery. Maybe we can get a trend going by Lunar New Year 2024…
With the coastal cowgirl and coastal grandma trends this year, ropes feel like an appropriate rugged evolution for the dainty bow. Think: lassos, harnesses, sailing knots, the climbing section at REI. Also very DIY-able.
Infinity/Loop Scarf Revival
The infinity scarf was such a core accessory for early 2010s fashion. I think we could see some sort of riff on the loop concept applied to snoods and balaclavas. Or maybe it will be a straight up infinity scarf revival based on how quickly the scarf trend cycle is moving (the checked Acne blanket scarf is being dethroned this year by the Y2K long skinny scarf).
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