The fishy fashion trend coinciding with the cost of living crisis

The newest online fishy trend is taking over just about everything in the fashion world, from designer bags to printed dresses.

Sardines are having a moment in the fashion sphere, with the little tinned fish making printed appearances on garments and even Bottega Veneta using them as inspiration for a handbag.

However, sardines aren’t just becoming popular in fashion, they’re also becoming a popular snack.

According to The Telegraph, Sardine-core’s popularity is all thanks to TikTok.

While sardines have likely been a staple in many homes around the world, people on TikTok started romanticising the fish.

The publication pointed to Ali Hooke, a Seattle-based chef who shared online over a year ago that she and her husband enjoyed a date night where the two would eat canned fish.


#onthisday one year ago today i posted my first tin fish video. It didnt go viral – but future ones did! What an insane journey. Thank you all for following along 💕 #tinfishdatenight #tinnedfishtok

♬ original sound – Ali


The health-conscious side of TikTok will tell you that sardines are incredibly healthy — which they are.

“You can’t go wrong with sardines,” Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano said, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“They’re a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, they’re caught in the wild and they’re cheap.”

There are plenty of people online who have shared ways they enjoy eating sardines – from simply putting them on bread to mixing them in with pasta.

Sardines then went on to become an “it girl snack” on TikTok, inspiring others to give them a go.


End of the week I-don’t-have-anything-in-my-fridge dinner = tinned fish pasta 🤌🏼 #easydinner #pastatiktok #PostitAffirmations

♬ Ondule – Mathieu Boogaerts

Fish in fashion

Sardines and sardine tins have gone on to become a very fashionable trend.

Australian luxury fashion company Oroton currently has clothes adorned in vintage-looking sardine tins as part of its limited edition resort collection.

There are dresses, shirts and shorts all featuring the colourful print.

Perhaps the most recognisable fashion pick featuring the fish is the Bottega Veneta Sardine bag.

Vogue declared it an “it bag” back in 2022, noting it had become the “go-to bag” for celebrities.

Coming in an array of colours and two sizes, the slouchy woven leather bag gets its name from the metallic handle that is shaped like a sardine.

Moving away from luxury fashion and into the more attainable arena, sustainable fashion brand Lisa Says Gah also featured sardines on its Italian Summer print, making for some very cool pants in black and white.

The sardine trend also extends to home decor.

David Jones currently has a $599 Fornasetti sardine silk cushion for sale, and there ares plenty of sardine prints, plates and phone cases on the market.

Speaking to The Telegraph, a former editor of several international Vogue editions, Mary Fellowes said the rise of sardine-core shouldn’t shock anyone, explaining trends, either lifestyle or pop-culture, are “often cyclical”.

The TikTok generation discovering the joys, and irony, of tinned fish is not dissimilar to Gen Y discovering the joys of vinyl,” she said.

“The appeal is also in the wit – look back at Schiaparelli’s 1930s lobster hat, and YSL’s lip motif. It is a nod to surrealism.”

Canned seafood renaissance

While some of the sardine-inspired items cost thousands of dollars, ironically, sardines can cost as little as 90c.

Which makes sardines a perfect snack amid the cost of living crisis.

Earlier this year it was reported that canned seafood was enjoying a surge in popularity.

In 2022 canned seafood sales rose 10 per cent in the US, according to Euromonitor.

“The ongoing cost of living crisis is bound to increase the likelihood of consumers indulging in canned goods,” Natalie Warb, financial expert at CouponBirds told The Food Institute in February.

“As the financial uncertainty continues, the sale of expensive or fresh goods is likely to decrease with the sale of canned alternatives likely to go in the opposite direction.’’

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