I Know Cult Items, and These 12 Have "It" Written All Over Them

We're far enough along into the spring/summer 2021 season now to see some clear runners and riders when it comes to the most popular designer pieces. Investments have been made, sold-out markers introduced and restocks are on their way. We're constantly charting the rise of cult items—such as The Row's beige trousers or Matteau's fig leaf shirt—but we thought it would be helpful for you to have all of the year's key buys in one place.

The criteria for getting into such a special gallery? These items need to be genuinely trending: It's not about paid ad campaigns and marketing blitzes, but actually expensive items women are willing to put their money on to wear now and, we hope, well into the future. In addition to their authenticity in Fashion Land, we're always looking for pieces that have longevity as well as the wow factor. Yes, Christopher John Rogers' rainbow-striped backless dress may sound niche but if you're a maximalist, this will look stunning summer after summer. From classics (hello, again, Tiffany bangles) through to more wild options (and a surprising amount of shirting), below are the key designer and luxury items that are trending in 2021.


It may seem oxymoronic for fluffy sandals to even exist, but as we know from previous years they can garner quite the cult following. From Ugg's fluffy slides to shearling-lined Birkenstocks, there is a demand for this shoe type. Hermès are well-loved for its signature, super-simple leather Oran sandals, but the heritage brand has now moved forward with a more daring option, introducing a shearling finish for this silhouette and a chunkier strapped version called the Chypre. Expect to see both of these doing the rounds on IG this summer.


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(Image credit: @threadsstyling)


There are many Bottega Veneta bags of note: The Cassette, The Pouch and The Point are all hugely popular amongst the fashion set. But there's one particular style reigning supreme, and personal shopping platform Threads Styling tell me that it's the green shade in particular that shoppers can't get enough of. "Bottega sales have seen a recent uplift, with May sales increasing +100% over month prior," they told me, with an emphasis of consumer interest being skewed towards this mini knotted and woven (aka Intrecciato) bag style. Matchesfashion has some new colourways arriving soon, Net A Porter appears to have a few restocked in green, grey and black. 


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(Image credit: @threadsstyling)


Who'd have thought that a Kermit-green oversized shirt would become so damn sought-after? But then again, Valentino started the trend for vibrant shirting on the spring 2021 runways with its cerise button-down worn over teeny tiny shorts, and the look has snowballed from there—makes sense when we're all looking for both comfort and statement-making from our clothes in this new era of getting dressed. Zara has a candy-coloured version gaining traction but it's this piece from Frankie Shop that has the highest volume of wearers. It is currently sold out but they'd be mad not to bring it back…


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The ultimate in what we like to call "rich and unbothered" garms, a pair of beige slacks from The Row for a cool £1420 is about as uber-luxury as it gets. Kendall Jenner, Danielle Haim and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have all pledged their allegiance to the Phoebe, while a number of influencers are also wearing these tailored trousers on social media. The look? All about neutral tones, white shirts and strappy heels. The brand has a surprisingly vast range of off-white and camel-coloured trouser silhouettes, so if a wide-leg cut isn't your thing, something cropped or tapered may lure you in.


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This is yet to go crazy on our feeds but we predict big things for these cheeky crochet raffia net bags from Prada. While the baskets bags of Loewe, Celine and more remain firm favorites and bona fide solid purchases, there's just something quirky and timeless about this new style from the Italian fashion house. They've been a much-promoted fixture on Threads Styling's Instagram, so you know they're bringing in the likes… Watch this space.


(Image credit: @threadsstyling)


(Image credit: @threadsstyling)


If you're looking to make a grand entrance, or exit for that matter, then it's all down to securing a rainbow-knit dress from Christopher John Rogers. The designer is well-loved for his vibrant creations and has been worn by the likes of Traces Ellis Ross, Michele Obama and Zendaya for red carpet events in particular, but this statement midaxi style offers a more laid-back way to do his high octane look. Both Ellie from Slip Into Style and Tamu of All The Pretty Birds have recently been pictured wearing this range, and these two always give good dress. Ellie's style is currently sold-out on Net A Porter but you can add it to your wishlist and stay in the loop when it becomes available again.


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We love it when a classic item makes a comeback, and one such jewellery piece this year is Tiffany's T bracelets. Subtle enough to stack alongside your existing jewellery but still special enough to stand out and make those in the know notice, we've seen a wave of T bracelets across our feeds and felt compelled to share that intel with you. There are so many iterations in different metal finishes, widths and finishes such as enamel Ts or diamond pavé, but for me it's all about the block gold or silver versions (and a couple of them please).


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You may be starting to notice a trend here for dresses that are at once comfy and stretchy and yet that little bit sassy too. Should holidays or a heatwave make it possible, we think this knitted and cutout Cult Gaia dress will start to be spotted in the UK as frequently as it has elsewhere in the world.

From celebrities like Hailey Beiber through to countless IG-famous women who live in hot countries or who have managed to get away for holidays, the Serita dress (and all its earthy colour options) has been a big fan club—and the many sold-out sizes reflect the demand. Cult Gaia has previously had experience with its knitted dresses becoming something of a fashion phenomenon (an off-the-shoulder oatmeal jumper dress being popular during last autumn/winter season), so it's no surprise there are various riffs on this idea for summer 2021.


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Chanel's chunky two-strapped sandals were introduced a few summers back now but they're still going strong and demand doesn't appear to wane. The team at Thread tell me that these Chanels are "one of the most popular shoes," with clients "buying now and also pre-ordering new styles before the next drop in early June." Chanel have been paying attention and the style now comes in a multitude of colours and finishes to fulfill many a varied personal style, but resellers know the value too, with many pre-loved options being even more expensive than new! "Black and metallic are the best selling colourways, but new styles also have a great reaction, for example the recent raffia style is very popular," says Threads.


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So what is it with the shirt obsession then? Could it be that after a year of wearing comfy trackies we aren't quite ready to give up our loose-fitting separates? Quite possibly. Or is it that in our Zoom-friendly view of the world we're more focused on statement tops than ever before? Either way, this summery, artsy little number from a swimwear brand called Matteau has been crazy popular on Instagram over the past few weeks. As such it has sold out at a lot of retailers but the message over at Matchesfashion is that more sizes will be coming soon, so be sure to sign up to the wait list.


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If the previous two frocks were a little bit too revealing for your liking then may I direct you to the ultra-comfy, highly adored shirred Atlanta dress from Sleeper. This isn't a new style, in fact it's been popular for quite time and peaked during the "house dress" moment of Lockdown Pt.1, but more and more women are discovering the joys of wearing them and in turn more colours and prints are being offered up by the brand. Technically this is an off-the-shoulder style, but it's easiest to wear with the shoulders up (especially if you require a bra, like me!). Linen dresses as a whole are trending but ask any fashion person and they'll tell you any style from Sleeper is the ultimate choice.


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And last but not least is a continuation of appreciation for the glam heels of Amina Muaddi. The shoe designer has been in the spotlight for a while now but with "revenge dressing" and our desire to go out-out in full force it's no great wonder that her signature curvy-heeled and crystal-dotted sandals, pumps and mules have been taking up prime Instagram realty. There are multiple styles to appreciate, but the pointed-toe slingback with sparkly brooches on the front have even persuaded minimalists, such as Pernille below, to get involved. So despite our dedication to comfy flats, there are countless Muaddi styles that are now totally sold out.


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Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and MatchesFashion.com, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.