FASHION

In 2022, Even Your Phone Cases Are Wearing Puffers


Collage by Ashley Peña

Do you have a big black puffer jacket, even? What about a puffer vest? Or a puffer bucket hat? Okay, but you probably have puffer boots—more commonly known as Moon Boots—hiding in the back of your closet (yup, those are in again). Puffer jackets have been around for years, but in 2022, everything else in your wardrobe is getting the puffed-up treatment—even phone cases.

This recent puffer takeover has been mounting for a while. It can be traced back to early last year, when the fall 2021 runways filled up with takes on quilted pieces. Then, in October, Telfar announced a collaboration with Moose Knuckles that turned the brand’s classic shopping bag into a more voluminous counterpart. As colder weather hit, it suddenly seemed like the style-inclined couldn’t keep their hands off one specific puffy product, which, like many other fashions these days, had a Renaissance in the early aughts: Moon Boots. The comically oversized footwear—which were all the rage when this writer was struggling through 6th grade geometry—were suddenly on the feet of Madonna and Mariah Carey. Moon Boots’ collaboration with Italian streetwear line GCDS ended up in half a dozen of Dua Lipa’s Instagram posts, and a shorter version can be seen on Hailey Bieber in Victoria’s Secret’s new rebrand campaign. In no time, Moon Boots made a comeback as strong as claw clips and low-rise jeans—and by the beginning of 2021, it became obvious that the over-puffed style was in, whether as boots, coats, or any other accessory that could be stuffed.

Elad and Neta Yam, the brother and sister duo behind Urban Sophistication—a brand beloved by the likes of Kim Kardashian for its parody t-shirts—didn’t necessarily consider the future of the trend when they first debuted their now highly popular Puffer Case in 2019. At first, they posted a photoshopped version of the phone case on their Instagram to gauge audience reaction. “It went crazy,” Elad told W. “People were very excited, so we started thinking, ‘Okay, how can we make this thing real?’” At the time, Elad and Neta didn’t necessarily have the resources to turn their brain child into an actual product. Their company was about four years old; its bread and butter consisted of screen printing on silicone cases and tees. The Israeli sibling pair initially launched the company to prompt important conversations—and their products, stamped with notices about mental health and social media, allowed a simple selfie to start a discussion in the comments section. While it was considerably more abstract as a product, the Yams considered the Puffer Case a continuation of that initial goal. “It was a less explicit way of sharing an idea,” Elad explained. While a quilted phone case on its own may no longer spark that same conversation, the overall ethos behind the brand was still strong. Either way, Elad and Neta were ready to move into the fashion space, and they gained inspiration through what they saw around them.

Fast-forward a few years, and Urban Sophistication’s Puffer Cases have become ubiquitous in their own right. The company had to hit pause for a second after selling out during their Black Friday sale last year—most likely thanks to customers like Dua Lipa and Kendall Jenner, who can’t stop showing off their Puffer Cases in mirror selfies on Instagram.

But the brand isn’t just stopping there. They’re now riding the puffer train they helped fuel, by upping their product game to include even more stuffed pieces. The next month or so will see a drop of puffer jackets and bucket hats, so you can match your phone case’s cushiony aesthetic. The new products come as high fashion begins to take on the trend as well. A scroll through shots from the men’s fall 2022 shows prove that puff is still top of mind for designers. And the street style of the tastemakers attending the shows cements that pea coats can move aside—puffer jackets are currently the preferred way to keep warm.

Of course, the trend will continue to evolve. Jonathan Anderson is already experimenting with the puffed texture, showing many items of clothing and accessories at the J.W. Anderson fall 2022 show that featured a strip of “puff,” turning bags and shoes into glam bumper cars and bringing volume to otherwise simple dresses and jackets.

As for Urban Sophistication, they’re cashing out on the puffer trend and moving on. Following their line of vests and accessories, the siblings will return to phone case home base. But some upcoming products may just spark a trend or two of their own. The Yams are keeping things on the down low for now, but here’s a hint: This season, your phones are wearing puffers, but next, they may adopt another burgeoning trend...cargo pants.