Scroll on any social media app and it’s hard not to feel like everyone you know is in Europe right now. And if it is Bella Hadid style vacation photos or “what i bring to europe with me” fetch videos, fashion’s latest ultimate flex seems to be escaping the US. (Given the current US political climate…)
While both vacation wear and European style have always been influential in the global fashion industry, social platforms have catapulted them into mainstream day-to-day summer attire in 2022. Even if you’re not vacationing in Europe, you might “manifest it” by wearing your holiday skirt around your hometown or turn off the AC in your Virginia home to “live an Italian summer.”
According to Instagram, within the past 90 days, the hashtag #EuropeanStyle has grown by over 40% on the platform; #EuropeTrip grew by over 25%. This, argues Larissa Gargaro, Meta’s Fashion Creators Strategic Partner Manager, is due in equal parts to more people traveling after some pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the rise of the #GRWM trend and the return of all-personal fashion weeks. In the US, it’s another example of escapist styling, much like the cottagecore trend that’s taken over our feeds for the past two years.
“Europe has always been romanticized, and it’s especially linked to luxury fashion – there’s something idyllic about dressing in the style of these places, especially in the summer months,” says Gargaro. “Although the sociopolitical climate is volatile everywhere, the trend certainly has to do with a desire to escape the reality of what’s happening in the United States and embody the energy and spirit of somewhere else.”
Gargaro notes that fashion has always traveled more than any other vertical “because fashion is a form of expression that can break language barriers.”
“What a French creator posts from his weekend trip to Marseille can influence an American in the Hamptons or a Brazilian in Rio,” she says. Gargaro expects this to continue and evolve – to more experimental and escapist holiday wear (one day dressing “goth”, the next wearing maximalist prints and colours), more transformative or purposeful travel experiences (like going to workshops or spending time in nature), and holiday core entering the digital avatar space (eg with Meta’s digital clothing store).
Other industry trends, such as the vintage revival we’ve seen grow and grow over the past few years, have only exacerbated the popularity of vacationcore. According to Noelle Sciacca, The RealReal’s Fashion Lead, there has been an increase in interest in European designers in the resale market which can be traced back to vacationcore.
Scroll to continue
“Gen Z and Millennials have redoubled their searches for vintage Roberto Cavalli,” she says. “These midi dresses and Y2K halter tops or one-shoulder tops do really well for us.” Also great: bold colors and prints.
“When you’re dressing for a European vacation, you’re almost tapping into this alter ego of your personal style,” she says. “It’s different from your everyday pieces. It really gives us an opportunity to jump outside of our style, comfort zone and our regular outfit routine.”
Of course, the elephant in the room is that not everyone can afford a vacation abroad, never mind a full wardrobe of elevated resort wear. Like most things in the fashion industry, this is where vacationcore or “europecore” has become the top currency on social media.
After 2020 saw a shift in influencer and celebrity culture as we know it – with people growing tired of out-of-touch posts – there has been a pivot towards experiences that transcend products as the ultimate flex online: Dua Lipa “shitposters” now blurred party photos and Iris Law gives us a sneak peek at how she “makes lunch” on a family vacation.
For ordinary, non-celebrities, Natalie Kinghama fashion consultant who previously worked as a buying director for MatchesFashion recommends thinking long-term about your holiday wardrobe.
“The kind of shopping habits that I see is that people resist buying things all summer because they have so much from the year before and the year before, especially if you buy sensibly and invest in good fabrics,” she says. “However, clients tend to update it a little bit every year, even if it’s just a great bikini or new sandals. It just freshens everything up.” Kingham also recommends supporting local artisans while you travel, rather than doing a Shein haul right before your flight.
Kingham doesn’t think “vacationcore” or “europecore” is going anywhere—nor is our desire to escape our daily realities by playing dress-up. However, this doesn’t mean you need to be in the South of France this summer to experience some much-needed dopamine dressing. Wellies, stacking your necklaces, flowing prairie skirts and matching coordinates are no longer reserved for holidays. Like cottagecore, it’s about a state of mind.