2023’s Velvet Trend: A Deep Dive

In winter 2023’s capsules and runway collections, one material stood out as a clear favorite amongst designers. No, not luxe leather or ‘ol reliable denim—but velvet. Soft and silken, buttery and plush velvet. From Versace’s crushed velvet looks in hot Barbie-esque pink (opens in new tab) to the matching sets (opens in new tab) from Anna Sui to Coach’s gothic velveteen frocks and the liquid-like couture gowns at Schiaparelli, the velvet trend is a definite seasonal standout. But why? What prompted this industry-wide interest in the luscious fabric?

Forget constant Zooming and doomscrolling on our phones—we want to take a more active, tangible role in our lives. We want to touch, feel, and play with materials (like velvet!), and we demand more from our clothing than the passive comfort the 2020 loungewear craze provided. Senior Strategist at WGSN, Sofia Martellini (opens in new tab), has a theory: “Since the pandemic, when our lives became even more dependent on screens, and almost all activities were online, we’ve noticed a growing interest in fabrics and materials that offer tactility, with textures and surfaces that have a sensorial quality.”

The 2023 velvet trend at Versace Resort 2023

(Image credit: Versace)

Martellini theorizes that the material’s presence in today’s trend cycle calls back to its high-brow origins. “Velvet is traditionally made of silk and is a very complex, labor-intensive weave,” explains Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell (opens in new tab), a fashion historian, curator, and journalist. “Historically, it was very expensive and frequently was the target of sumptuary laws that banned middle- and lower-class people from wearing it.” And like the past eras of sartorial excess when velvet symbolized in-your-face opulence, “we’re now in an era of fashion maximalism,” says Chrisman-Campbell. “So it’s not surprising that a visibly luxurious fabric like velvet has made a comeback,” she says. Also, pointing out that history, as you know, has a funny tendency to repeat itself.