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Review: “Next in Fashion” season two survives changes, becomes a valuable pop culture artifact [MUSE]


On March 3, Netflix released season two of “Next in Fashion.” The reality TV show follows up-and-coming fashion designers as they create looks according to pop culture-related briefs, which are judged by an impressive array of professional guest designers and influencers. This season took efforts to be inoffensive, at least compared to season one, which was so polarizing the show was originally not renewed for another season. Although it wasn’t as cutting edge, “Next in Fashion” season two maintains a creative focus and fulfills a niche that similar shows like “Project Runway” and “America’s Next Top Model” had abandoned. 

The most noticeable changes from season one were the hosts and the designers themselves. British television star Alexa Chung was replaced by supermodel Gigi Hadid, who has a larger fanbase but fewer fashion credentials and less experience. While the designers themselves are more diverse than last season, this is overshadowed by the fact they’re all American. Fashion is so inherently rooted in culture that by not including any international designers, the show lost some valuable perspectives.

That said, let’s dive into the looks themselves. We see some clear efforts to draw out viral looks through themes like “camp.” Camp in itself demands something outrageous, but the designers pursued shock value at the cost of an actual statement. The winner of this challenge, Bao Tranchi, simply made a ball gown covered in pockets. The idea is camp, but the execution was too pretty. All of them should read Notes on “Camp” by Susan Sontag, who coined and defined the term, and then reevaluate their subpar designs. 

The themes of “transformation” (where the designers had to create looks that could literally be changed on the runway) and “swimwear” led to the most laughably bad designs. Especially noticeable in these episodes were the early eliminations of designers who specialized in womenswear, with some of the remaining designers clearly unable to produce well-fitting looks for female models. If you can’t create clothes for half the population, you shouldn’t be on the show at all.

On the other hand, I loved the “thrift” theme; in this episode, the designers had to create looks from existing clothes. It is so relevant to the fashion industry right now, especially amid consumers’ demands for sustainability. The winning looks by Nigel Xavier and Deontré Hancock were fresh takes on streetwear and exaggerated current trends enough to actually be commercially viable in the future.


In this vein, the winner of the show was clear. Nigel was easily the most competent contestant, and this was reflected in the quality of his work and his relatively drama-free TV persona. His takes on Americana were original, and he specialized in fabrication (patchwork and textile manipulation), which is recognizable in the resurgence of late ‘90s and early ‘00s trends. This isn’t in itself “next in fashion,” but the Atlanta-based designer’s exploration of culture, nostalgia and belonging certainly is. These ideas are reflected in his Woodstock-inspired collection in the finale, which combined denim, lace and furs into a beautifully cohesive presentation. 

Other memorable designers leaned on more utilitarian looks, which while certainly relevant to couture, will not sell on the website of the show’s sponsor, Rent the Runway. I did feel the show prioritized commercial preferences to more artistic perspectives, perhaps most obvious in the elimination of Eliana Batsakis. Judges commented her look was too juvenile, but the theme was “childhood.” Her designs could be costumey, sure, but the real reason she was eliminated seemed to be that her aesthetics didn’t align with current trends on a show supposed to reward ahead-of-their-time creators. 

Although certainly a departure from season one, “Next in Fashion” overcame a talent drain and managed to justify most of the judges’ decisions this time around. I hope a season three is produced, and that it places more of a focus on the vibrant global fashion scene rather than American streetwear. For anyone with an interest in fashion, especially the revival of consumer-focused ready-to-wear designs (rather than variants of red carpet style), the show is certainly worth your time.

On this blog, members of the Carmel High School chapter of the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists (and the occasional guest writer) produce curations of all facets of popular culture, from TV shows to music to novels to technology. We hope our readers always leave with something new to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.  

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  • R

    Rebecca PerryDec 9, 2023 at 8:34 am

    Being from the Fashion Industry I related more with Season 1 .. I came from the UK in 1987 to work for Tommy Hilfiger ..which was great to see that he was one of the Judges on the denim creations ..however, he is not a designer, but someone who has had a very marketable US brand with a team who executes his vision.

    I preferred the mix of global designers as the US has the tendency to water down talented designers looks and so the collections become too commercial … Next in Fashion to me should be about design we don’t see which was more apparent with Minju the finalist in season 1 ..

    The only positive comment I have for season 2 is they are all young designers who pretty much followed the briefs but with way less experience in construction and immaculate attention to detail which was more apparent in season 1 …
    The designers are also swayed by the judges comments and should stay true to their identity otherwise we just spew out another group of designers who follow trend versus who are “ Next in Fashion “!!which is the whole concept of this show …

    Let’s hope season 3 if there is one goes back to initial concept which worked ….

  • H

    HeidiNov 6, 2023 at 10:58 pm

    Next in fashion season 2 was so bad. I hated the clear discrimination. In my opinion was a mess and less glamour. I loved session 1. If season 3 will be similar to session 2 I won’t watch it.