Maybe you've seen it, or perhaps you haven't, but in some spaces on the internet, an ultra mini-pleated skirt from Miu Miu's Spring '22 collection has been making the celebrity and social media rounds. Its viral status is akin to other pieces we've seen repeated on red carpets and in magazine spreads, but this particular item is different for several reasons. It's an emblem of how fashion and clothing are a fast-moving train, always making their final stop in the middle of nowhere at a station filled with broken benches and no cellphone service. In just a few short weeks, this skirt, which is only a few inches of fabric worn low on the hips with a belt, has brought up conversations around ageism, trend cycles, and duping.
When Nicole Kidman wore the skirt on the cover of Vanity Fair, it kicked up a familiar conversation: A woman over the age of 40 wears an outfit deemed more "appropriate" for someone in their 20s. Some people praise the woman (and maybe her stylist) for standing up to ageism, and others blame the woman for perpetuating the idea that you have to try to look younger no matter your age. These two ideas are real and can exist simultaneously, but hoisting them onto one celebrity in a skirt serves little purpose. No one ever wins, and what gets lost is that a skirt is a skirt, and it doesn't have an age limit, ceiling, or perfect body type. We made it all up to serve as a weird weapon against each other when really we could just say whether or not we liked the outfit.
Of course, age isn't the only piece of this pleated puzzle. Just a few days after that cover was released, i-D launched their Spring issue featuring model Paloma Elsesser wearing the skirt in all its glory. In the interview, she dubbed it "The Miu Miu," solidifying the skirt's place among other pieces that have been baptized at the viral high fashion altar. That name prompted someone to make an entire Instagram account dedicated to showing pictures of people wearing the skirt. Hailey Bieber wears the complete set in the brand's ad campaign, Zendaya models it with a pair of metallic boots in Interview Magazine, Lara Stone appears in Vogue wearing it with a cropped button-down, and more. Soon, we'll see more and more influencers posting their pics with the Miu Miu off the page, the set having been gifted but self-styled, making it a 2022 status symbol – something aspirational for the masses but only attained by the few.
This is where fast fashion steps in. Already, similar styles are popping up on popular sites for less than $50. It will ship in just a few days, despite the months of work to design the original. We'll see people wearing it on TikTok and out at parties because fast fashion can get away with duping in the name of democratic style. Within a few months, thousands of super mini-skirts will be sold, worn and forgotten about as something else becomes more popular.
It's no one's fault that these mass-produced dupes are available except the fast fashion brands that make them. And really, the biggest takeaway is that it's happening at all. For me, there are two sides to watching the Miu Miu set unfold as the next big talking point in fashion. One, it shows the power of clothing and design. The fact that a little skirt that basically looks like a school uniform DIYed for the club has racked up thousands of tweets and social media videos is kind of amazing. Clothing makes people feel something and makes them question the world around them. Why is this particular skirt, at this specific moment, making us all think twice? At the same time, though, we have to take a step back and consider why trends like this move so fast and so loudly that brands contributing nothing to fixing the fashion industry can jump on them just to sell more based on a desire created purposefully by those at the top.