Fun Fashion: The Emoji

By: Meredith McBee

A thousand words may not fit on a sweater, but an emoji sure does. Fashion designers, both low and high-end, are replacing their lettering on graphic tees and shoes with favorites from your keyboard.

Emojis have been incredibly successful in marketing strategies in recent years. The American Marketing Association reported that by the end of 2015, emojis were being used 777% more in marketing materials that at the beginning of 2015.

“Art imitates life, and since fashion is wearable art, it only makes sense that we would find the most valued piece of modern communication in fashion,” says Trunk Club Stylist Chelsea Parker.

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Photo credit: Abigail Savopoulos

The emoji came about in the late 1990s in Japan, but soon caught the attention of many international companies. The universality of a picture message was proven a decade ago when Apple used emojis to break into the Japanese market in 2007. Since then, emojis have been adopted by the young and old all across the world.

“We’re starting to reach a point in technology where a whole conversation could be carried out entirely through emoji,” Intel Technical Marketing Intern and SMU Student Sean Nierat says.

The fashion world embraced the trend in early 2016 with the arrival of Versace’s emoji app on the iPhone, complete with a matching t-shirt line. At first, it appeared to be more of a fad than anything.

However, Acne’s sweater range in Fall of 2016 placed embellished emojis front in center on sweaters and therefore, front and center in fashion. With just a simple picture message, like a banana or a doughnut, the wearer can cleverly make a statement.

Introducing the new #AcneStudios emoji collection. Find your emoji in stores and at

A post shared by Acne Studios (@acnestudios) on

“The widespread understanding of emojis allows for a designer to very effectively create a piece using emojis,” Nierat said.

With the onset of personalized fashion, it seems that making a statement with a favorite emoji is the way fashion-forward dressers like to go. Kate Spade launched “The Personalization Shop” in 2016 as a way for customers to embellish bags with letters and exclusive Kate Spade emojis.

Some, like SMU student Gabrielle Faulkner, are not so enthusiastic about the trend.

“I am just over the whole graphic, in-your-face yellow circle,” Faulkner says.

Thankfully for her, there are subtler ways to wear the trend. Del Toro has a line of loafers with embroidery emoji embellishment on the front of every shoe to make a statements like Queen Bee and Trophy Wife.

@ladydeltoro for @shopbop #deltoro #madeinItaly

A post shared by Del Toro ®||Matthew Chevallard (@deltoroshoes) on

Parker suggest dressing simply when embracing the trend. We asked Parker how she would style the new Alice and Olivia emoji shoes.

“Since these shoes do a lot of talking on their own (literally and figuratively) my go-to pairing would be jeans and a white tee… classic, simple, and easy to wear from desk to dinner,” says Parker.

Emojis are experiencing a high point in fashion at the moment, with many designers adopting the new universal language.

“I style all ages and can confidently say that the emoji trend transcends age and simply caters to the fun and fashionable,” Parker said.

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