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Jun 13, 2023

Ask any Gen Zers: Mermaid-core has taken over everyday style – and TikTok

Tired of all the TikTok trends ending in -core? Not when it comes to oceanic vibes. But why is everyone, everywhere, going crazy for this aquatic aesthetic? 

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Un post condiviso da DUA LIPA (@dualipa)

It’s a takeover from under the sea. Just ask Barbie’s mermaid Dua Lipa or Halle Bailey turned Princess Ariel in Disney’s CGI remake of The Little Mermaid.

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Un post condiviso da Halle Bailey (@hallebailey)


Exploring the fin-tastic world of mermaid fashion starts with a dip into the past 

Mermaids have embodied our fantasies of the deep seas for centuries. This transformative mythical female figure, half-fish and half-woman, is well-known worldwide.

What perhaps justifies the youth’s obsession with this feminine sea creature is the bright and dark realities and stereotypes of women that it reveals. A dual personality that reflects vulnerability and resilience concurrently.

Apart from the feminist point of view, it’s not hard to comprehend why mermaids are desired when their existence is so mystical and pretty, and they get to spend an abundance of time at the beach!


What if we told you that the mermaid-core that sets TikTok on fire today had been around since the 1930s?

In the enchanting and dynamic world of fashion trends, Mermaid-core is one such captivating trend that has undoubtedly taken the industry by storm.

Gaining momentum after the release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, the trend has a rich fashion heritage dating back to the 1930s. The iconic mermaid silhouette can be credited to the visionary French couturier Marcel Rochas.

This ethereal style transports us to the depths of the sea, where fashion enthusiasts sway through the currents of the ever-evolving fashion world, expressing themselves through a unique combination of fashion and fantasy.


On TikTok, the hashtag #Mermaidcore is making a splash, but the oceanic vibes are here to stay. Ready to walk down the street wearing iridescent flippers, shimmering pastel gowns, flared skirts and shell or pearl accessories? No worries, there are also wearable styles 

As little girls that grew up watching Ariel, we always imagined mermaid styles with a finned and scaled appearance. No longer confined to traditional perceptions, today’s mermaid-approved pieces embrace wearable styles, even venturing into minimal aesthetics followed by a touch of glamour blending seamlessly with contemporary trends. 

With this approach, some brands also defied the idea that mermaid-core only needs to be vibrant and colourful. 

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Un post condiviso da BLUMARINE (@blumarine) 

Spring 2023 designs by leading fashion labels are capitalising on the viral mermaid-core trend, which combines a marine mood with a dash of mythology.


Don’t call it a trend: vanishing into the deep sea is a kind of escapism, but this otherworldly, transcendental under-the-sea aesthetic also addresses our need for sustainability 

It would be unfair to call the mermaid fantasy a ‘trend’, considering how long it has managed to stay afloat. With its timeless appeal and enduring presence on the fashion scene, this style is embraced by both emerging and established fashion brands.

Looks from Iris van Herpen spring-summer 2021 haute couture

Looks from Iris van Herpen spring-summer 2021 Haute Couture

With the growing uncertainty of the future, it may be tempting to vanish into deep seas, symbolising peace and resilience but also providing an abundance of plant and animal life that is often underrated.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a growing interest in ecology and sustainability in recent times, inspiring this fashion trend. 

An outstanding example is the partnership between designer Iris Van Herpen and Parley for the Ocean (a nonprofit environmental organisation committed to protecting the oceans). Together, they designed a ‘HOLOBIONT’ dress from ocean debris and recycled plastic, transforming waste into Haute Couture masterpieces using 3D printers. The tech-savvy designer’s groundbreaking work was the star of the Iris van Herpen spring-summer 2021 show: it has been described as otherworldly and transcendental, with radiating designs that hinted at the connection between the human body and the natural environment.


Get the mermaid look: your ultimate guide to the mermaid-core through a sea of elements

Many celebrities have worn mermaid-inspired attire on red carpets since the teaser release of the adaptation of the most cherished animated film, The Little Mermaid by Disney. Halle Bailey, who plays Ariel in the film, has been spotted at premiers wearing flared skirts, pastel colours and intricate details that perfectly match her character.

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Un post condiviso da Halle Bailey (@hallebailey) 

Mermaid-core consists of a sea of elements (pun intended). Whether it’s a hint of sparkle, a touch of aquatic motifs, or a playfully bold interpretation, this mermaid-inspired trend allows us to embrace our inner mythical creatures and embark on a sartorial journey. It encompasses countless captivating elements that transport us to a world of enchantment and wonder.

Although the trend has been seen on numerous runway shows over the years, interpreted in different ways, it is safe to say that it saw a boom in the luxury fashion market this season.

Brands like Versace, Blumarine and Altuzzara have given their stamp of approval through their latest collections and have set the tone for the trend.


  1. Classic crochets for a beach style

The beach favourite – crochet, is an epitome of delicate craftsmanship that weaves a tapestry of intricate beauty, mimicking the watery ripples and textures of the ocean. Shades of blues, reminiscent of the vast expanse of water, bring a serene and calming aura to this trend.

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  1. (She sells sea-) shells

A beloved silhouette for bags, they are a whimsical symbol of the seashore. They add a touch of organic elegance with their intricate patterns and lustrous charm. One such set of bags was seen in Cult Gaia’s latest collection. Heirloom pieces in the form of large metallic leather sea shell clutches are a timeless addition to your wardrobe that can be used for years to come! 

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Un post condiviso da CULT GAIA (@cultgaia)


  1. Lustrous pearls & fiery fishtails

Synonymous with timeless elegance and a Chanel favourite, Pearls drape around this trend, casting a subtle glow of sophistication.

On the red carpet of the latest Met Gala, Kim Kardashian's custom-  Schiaparelli nude look, designed by Daniel Roseberry, was dripping in pearls, while Serena Williams wore a flapper Gucci look with layers of pearl necklaces

On the red carpet of the latest Met Gala, Kim Kardashian's custom Schiaparelli nude look, designed by Daniel Roseberry, was dripping in pearls, while Serena Williams wore a flapper Gucci look with layers of pearl necklaces

Fishtail silhouettes elegantly embrace the feminine form, paying tribute to the graceful tails of these mythical creatures. Beach waves and long hair curls remain the key identification of the beloved Disney princess Ariel. 

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Un post condiviso da Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian)


  1. Sexy Sequins

The sparkle of sequins beautifully captures the glimmering effect of sunlight on water, embodying the enchanting allure of mermaids. Hailey Bieber donned a Valentino turquoise sequin look at Jay Z and Beyoncé’s Oscars after-party in March. The large disc-like sequins mimicked the scales on a mermaid’s tale, defining the perfect Mermaid-core moment for a party look. 


  1. Wet hair, don’t care 

The wet, dewy hair look resembles the glistening tresses of a mermaid just emerging from the water. Beads, such as glistening water droplets, adorn the garments adding texture and intricacy.


  1. Smart Scuba 

Scuba-inspired, watery and flowy fabrics evoke a sense of fluidity and movement as if the wearer is effortlessly gliding through an underwater paradise. This scuba fashion was featured in the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2024 Collection showcased at Isola Bella.

Looks from from the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2024 show on the enchanting Isola Bella

Looks from from the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2024 show on the enchanting Isola Bella

Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections, Nicolas Ghesquière, has reimagined mermaid fashion by incorporating intricate scales and aquatic imagery, breaking away from the traditional feminine style.

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Un post condiviso da Louis Vuitton (@louisvuitton)


  1. What the fish

Fish motifs playfully swim across fabrics, reminding us of the magical creatures that inspire this captivating aesthetic. The ‘Fish Maud Tassel Clutch’ by Anya Hindmarch has gained the brand much love across various social media channels, making the bag a delight every young woman wants and adding the perfect sparkle to any outfit.

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Un post condiviso da Anya Hindmarch (@anyahindmarch)


My bride is a mermaid

The mermaid trend has also made waves in the booming Asian bridal-wear industry.

Renowned couture designer Krésha Bajaj led the charge with her mesmerising collection of lehengas, sarees, bodysuits, and gowns. This versatile line features vibrant colours, intricate embroidery and layered textures brought to life by a team of 500 karigars. More than 50 shades of threads intertwined seamlessly, creating monochromatic ensembles adorned with Bajaj’s signature glass beading, crystal work, aari, and zardozi.

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Un post condiviso da Krésha Bajaj (@kreshabajajofficial) 

Following their footsteps, the Indian fashion powerhouse – Papa Don’t Preach also made a striking statement. They trademarked their quirky embellished lehengas, forging an unconventional yet fantastical style in Indian bridal wear. Their imaginative designs have added a unique touch to the industry, appealing to those seeking a more whimsical approach to their wedding attire.

This trend remains an all-time favourite for Indian brides, constantly reinterpreted and reinvented with each wedding season. From India to Southeast Asia, the mermaid trend continues to make a splash, captivating brides across the region with its dream-like allure.


Deep dive into the mermaid-core and let the exceptional become your reality

Mermaid-core has seen a noticeable increase in popularity on social media, possibly due to its visually appealing aesthetics in line with the style of platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

This sea fantasy design offers an easy and uplifting journey into a world of magic and beauty as users desire to escape the commonplace and embrace the exceptional.

As we continue to traverse the digital era, we can expect to see this fashion culture’s impact ripple through the fashion business and our social media feeds for years to come. So, go into the depths of this enthralling trend, since in the world of mermaid-core, the exceptional may sometimes become a reality.



Sakshi Rajesh and Shreya Bansal
MA students in Fashion Promotion Communication & Digital Media, Milan
postgraduate-Master's Degrees · Master's Courses · Master of Arts