Why You're About To See 'Dystopian Fashion' Everywhere In 2023

It may only be the beginning of 2023, but several new fashion trends are already on the rise. From the soft goth aesthetic inspired by "Wednesday" to the trending bikercore look that has been spotted on Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber, there's a style out there for everyone. In the past few years, everything from laidback minimalist looks to chunky '80s maximalist jewelry has had its place at the fashion table. Now, it's time for dystopian fashion to have its time. 

This latest trend stands out from previous trends, partially due to its bold name. Dystopian fashion takes inspiration from the sub-trend known as subversive basics. First named by TikToker @thealgorythm back in a 2021 video, the subversive basics style is all about taking basics and elevating them so they don't have the understated feel of regular basics. Though not exactly the same, the dystopian fashion trend has the same principle of transforming basic clothing into something unique. 

Whether you want to start a rebellion a la Katniss Everdeen or are just a fan of layering, here's all the info you need about the dystopian clothing trend and how to style it.

The trend was spotted on a handful of 2023 runways

Part of the trend's rising popularity is due to its appearance on several runways, notably at the spring 2023 Miu Miu and Elena Velez collections (via Refinery29). Both of these runway shows featured heavy looks that favored oversized pieces and cutouts. The overall color palette seen was darker — think black and khaki combined with a few neutral shades like tan and beige for contrast. Cargo and utility silhouettes were also everywhere, especially on skirts, which featured unique silhouettes crafted with fabrics and large pockets. 

Dystopian fashion isn't afraid to defy style boundaries

According to trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry, "fashion statements often have an element of defiance," and the dystopian aspect of this trend is what makes it so daring (via The Guardian). This is reflected in the bleak colors and harsh fabrics used, as well as in the utilitarian vibe of most dystopian-inspired fashion. TikToker @rrivera.angelina styled her exaggerated oversized utility coat with baggy black cargo pants to emphasize the faded look of the coat. Though her outfit is relatively simple, the bleak colors and ripped patches are what make it feel dystopian rather than basic.

Leather is a key fabric used in the trend

Another large component of the dystopian fashion trend is leather, though not the squeaky clean kind. Taking inspiration from the leather underclothes that used to be worn with armor, according to WWD, leather items seen in the dystopian fashion trend are gritty, with heavy distressing to add to the dystopian feel. You don't have to spend tons of money on a leather jacket, either — this is a great opportunity to thrift or upcycle an older wardrobe piece. Any signs of aging will only make your leather piece feel more authentically dystopian. 

Ripped and cut fabrics are a large part of the trend

You could always go for a slightly more toned-down take on the trend like the neutral fit styled by @nakedaura. Her rough-hem cropped shrug and utility micro skirt are complemented by the torn fabric around her center, which adds to the dystopian feel of the outfit. Cutouts are a major aspect of the trend, so don't be afraid to show off a peek of your shoulder or a larger section of your midriff than you usually would. 

The trend can be styled to fit your own preferences

Dystopian fashion is also very easy to make modest if you prefer not to show your body for whatever reasons. As demonstrated by model @nrsnai, an oversized utility vest and maxi parachute skirt create an on-trend look that combines the dystopian fashion and subversive basics trends together. To ensure the look remains dystopian instead of straying over to minimalist territory, stick to black and gray for your main colors and add only a small pop of lightness when layering.