Before 2021 ended, one more major TikTok fashion trend came in clutch.
Tiktok, an inescapable app since 2020, has transitioned from being a platform for sharing takes on dance choreography to being the breeding ground for mainstream trends. For fashion trends, it’s partly responsible for the Y2K revival and reemergence of Ugg boots. But in the past months, especially in colder climates, the balaclava craze has been taking center stage.
@fridahollund Another 15 min balaclava💁🏼♀️I freestyle them so Im sorry i dont have a pattern 4 u #knit #balaclava ♬ yeah hot people use this sound – cxaluv
A balaclava or ski mask covers the head and neck except for parts of the face. It’s typically made of wool, and that’s another reason it gained popularity—because knitting as a quarantine hobby also boomed due to the app’s users.
Apocalyptic to glamorous
At the time of writing, 122.6 million videos and almost 260,00 posts with the hashtag #balaclava are on Tiktok and Instagram, respectively. In retail, global fashion platform Lyst says its page views for the piece rise 18 percent “month on month.” While on image sharing social media platform Pinterest searches for balaclavas rose 230 percent since the beginning of November.
The London-based shopping site considers Kim Kardashian’s full-face and body-covering ensemble from last September’s MET Gala as the trend’s original culprit. At the same time, TikTok influencer and trend forecaster Mandy Lee calls the trend “approachable” given you can knit one yourself. She adds that its aesthetic can go from “apocalyptic” to “glamorous,” depending on its style.
Currently, you can find designer balaclavas from the likes of Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, and Prada from fashion brands like Zara. But what’s the headpiece’s historical origin?
The balaclava is named after a Ukrainian port town, where the 1854 Crimean War took place—a battle between British and Irish troops against Russian soldiers amid freezing weather. However, the UK army fought, poorly equipped, wearing their summer uniforms. When the word got back to their home country, British women knitted “hats” that covered the soldier’s entire faces to prepare them for winter battles.
In Eastern Europe, face-covering became symbolic when pro-Russian separatist demonstrators used them to avoid surveillance. However, although the look used to seem “threatening,” because it appears that one would be in hiding, balaclavas now come in all shades and whimsical designs—so it would be accessible to either shop or make one to suit your style.
Scroll through for some of our balaclava picks you can shop for now.
THE ARRIVALS Sanne Balaclava
PRADA Cashmere Knit Ski Hood
ARCH4 Manuela Cashmere Balaclava
MIU MIU Green Wool Knit Balaclava
STELLA MCCARTNEY Ed Curtis Edition Knit Balaclava
ANDERSSON BELL Pink Bubble Scarf Balaclava
Banner photo from @taanyaar on Instagram