Nothing Says Fashion in 2023 Like a Corset Hoodie

There is a certain futility in making sense of fashion trends of late. Just try to follow the path from naked dressing to stealth wealth without taking the pink-drenched detours of cottagecore, balletcore and Barbiecore. They all have a tendency to contradict one another.

For example, both lingerie and loungewear, clothes for revealing and clothes for concealing, sold particularly well in 2020, during the earliest months of the pandemic.

Three years later, one consequence of this convergence has emerged: the corset hoodie. The garment is a fashion Frankenstein — cozy hoodie on top, restrictive corset on bottom — that is both a conjugation and rejection of its parent trends. It’s also gaining in popularity.

In April, Bad Bunny wore a black one for his performance at Coachella. The corset half was sheer with visible boning. It had been customized for him by Mugler, whose creative director, Casey Cadwallader, introduced the style into the brand’s collection in 2022.

“Is the corset hoodie my new catsuit?” Mr. Cadwallader asked with a laugh, referring to the skintight, full-body, spiraled Mugler bodysuit favored by pop stars. “I think it’s going to end up being a big thing.” The designer decided to incorporate a version into Mugler’s upcoming collection with H&M, with wide shoulders and boning embedded between two layers of Lycra.

Adding a corset to a hoodie “formalizes the most informal thing,” said Mr. Cadwallader, who has regularly worn the design, including while taking a bow after his most recent runway show.

“It’s a very weird hybrid,” he said. Wearing it zipped up can feel like “a back brace at the gym,” but wearing it open feels like any other hoodie, only “a little more fierce, and also a little more comical.”

Mr. Cadwallader was working from a studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, overseeing fittings for a fashion show meant to introduce the H&M collection, when the model Paloma Elsesser arrived for her fitting wearing her own corset hoodie, maroon and emblazoned with “New York.” This one was made by a young Irish designer named Timothy Gibbons.

Mr. Gibbons’s creations, repurposed from hoodies he found in tourist shops on Canal Street, have found a following among New York’s young downtown scene, as well as with pop stars like Charli XCX. Interview magazine recently photographed the TikTok girl du jour Alix Earle in one of his hoodies.

Mr. Gibbons began making the hoodies last year, after having experimented with combining corsets and rugby shirts a few years earlier. He was, as he put it, “more broke than I had ever been in my life” and working from the studios of his designer friends — like Carly Mark of Puppets and Puppets and Kim Nguyen of Nguyen Inc. He now produces the hoodies in small quantities, selling them at Café Forgot on the Lower East Side and on his website, where they have sold out. (They are priced at 225 British pounds, or about $280; the Mugler hoodies exceed $1,000.)

Mr. Gibbons said their popularity was a result of “leeching off New York’s iconography, in a way, but also making something so comfortable and wearable as a hoodie have this sex appeal.” Most of the hoodies, which are cut with a deep V hem that accentuates the hips and, he said, “drives the attention down the body,” are custom-made to accommodate the buyer’s measurements.

A handful of other corset hoodies are on the market: by Celine (cashmere, no closures), Dion Lee (French terry, with hook-and-eye clasps), Eckhaus Latta (zipped and not quite as snatched as the others) and the emerging designer Weslah (lace-up, with a crystal logo). Plenty of versions are being sold on fast fashion websites.

But few have captured the attention of New York’s zeitgeisty fashion crowd as Mr. Gibbons’s design has, said Faisal Hasan, a fashion stylist.

“The word has spread through friends and friends of friends,” said Mr. Hasan, who selected one of Mr. Gibbons’s designs for a March photo shoot with Padma Lakshmi. “Consumers still want streetwear. It’s here to stay. Yet they also want elegance post-pandemic, and here they have it both.”

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