Bottoms Out, The Rise of Zoom Fashion
In a time defined by digitalisation, Webex, Zoom, Facetime and any other software supporting video conferencing has become our main medium of communication. Regardless of work or play, video is an integral part of today’s lifestyle and the way we present ourselves online is dictated by the 16:10 aspect ratio on most digital devices. Unexpectedly, the top half of our outfits have become significantly more important.
In fashion, it’s an odd time. For an industry that is usually so invested in the physical, tangible appeal of products, the shift of designing for the digital gaze has not been so smooth. Covid-19 has forced brands to completely readapt their processes.
The last few seasons of fashion week are a testament to this. This year was the first time we saw designers forego the traditional runway setting to comply with social distancing. In exchange, we saw an array of pre-recorded content, films and live streams shared through social media.
A clear observation across all these virtual “fashion shows” is how styling has been impacted by the digital format. Much of the looks presented were focused from the waist up; volume in the sleeves, neckline details, visible logos and statement accessories, styled especially for a bust shot. The traces of technology were distinctly obvious at Prada’s newest collection, where new co-creative director, Raf Simons made his debut.
Simons will join long-standing head designer, Miuccia Prada. In a statement on the impact of technology on fashion, “During the lockdown, I realised how important technology is and how it is impactful for us, and in some ways, an extension of ourselves,” said Miuccia Prada.
In contrast to the heavily styled tops, the options for bottoms were kept simple. Relaxed and flowy silhouettes were common sightings. This is a direct result of Zoom fashion and how consumers are shopping today.
At the height of quarantine, Omnilytics data showed tops consistently outsold bottoms. Overall, the bottoms category was on a downwards trend, with the small exception of shorts and skirts that were still able to generate steady sales, albeit with only a minimal number of products.
Without further ado, here are the top five insights into Zoom fashion trends.
Loud Prints and Patterns
To stand out amongst a wall of faces, consumers preferred graphics prints and loud patterns. Graphic t-shirts were among the subcategories with the highest growth in the past three months, 67% of the graphic print products were found in tops and outerwear.
Data obtained from the US, UK and Australia markets showed 16% of the total sold-out products were tagged under graphic print. Beyond t-shirts, it also dominated activewear, specifically in sweatsuits and coordinated sets.
August recorded the highest number of graphic new-ins. Over 57,000 new products were brought in across the three markets in that month alone in preparation for the transitioning seasons.
Despite the bold print, styles that drove the highest sell-out rates were mainly casuals such as t-shirts, hoodies and sweatpants, which are in-line with today’s “at-home” lifestyle. Fashion designers were not one to miss out on the trend, Rodarte and Raf Simons were some of the designers who adopted graphic prints and statement lettering as the central theme of their Spring/Summer 2021 collections.
The Devil is in the Details
Besides prints, intricately detailed tops were another winner over the last few months. Omnilytics’s trend analysis showed string detailing on tops were particularly popular. More than 26,000 products with the keyword ‘string’ and ‘tie’ were sold out across major fast fashion retailers such as Shein, Zara and H&M.
Do not expect this trend to let down anytime soon. Omnilytics data detected a newness injection of over 28,500 products at high street brands from July to October of this year.
The detailing was seen on crop tops and blouses the most. Coming off summer in the northern hemisphere, crop tops recorded an impressive 45% sell-out rate across all segments. It was also the key trend of the Spring/Summer 21 collections. Versace, Balmain and Celine are just some of the major designers that presented multiple looks centred around the crop top.
While staying at home, comfortable clothing has become a staple for most of us. The demand for loungewear increased significantly throughout the lockdown period, joggers became exceptionally popular. Even months later, the trend for joggers has not cooled down. The trend is not just limited to the mass market, we saw a high number of track pants and joggers found in the luxury category.
Data from e-commerce platform, Farfetch showed track pants and joggers are still outperforming the overall pants category, indicating consumers are willing to dish out top dollar for highly demanded products.
Still within the realm of comfort, intimates and pyjamas have also become a key category for contention since the pandemic started. Typically a slow-moving product category, intimates and pyjamas are one of the few products to drive a consistent sell-out performance this year.
Pyjamas are so sought after that even the runway has taken inspiration from it. Brands Halpern, Collina Strada and Rodarte offered their own interpretations of luxe bedwear.
The sales of costume jewellery and embellished products have also taken off as part of the Zoom fashion craze. A simple way to frame your face and style up an average look, more than 38,000 new-ins were found in the fast fashion segment versus 13,000 in luxury.
The premium segment, priced between USD $40 to $200, had the lowest contribution of newness despite still maintaining an above average sell-out performance.
A large number of those sold-out items were chunky statement and dangle earrings. Gold earrings took the largest share of the total products, followed by pearl and brass. Other categories in jewellery driving growth were bracelets, brooches and pins – although these categories had significantly less number of products compared to earrings.
Other than jewellery, consumers also heavily invested in all forms of headwear and hair accessories. In general, the non-apparel segments fared better during this time as demand for subcategories like hats and socks were much more stable compared to clothing.
Since July, hats and caps commanded a strong sell-out performance at full price. Due to winter in the southern hemisphere, beanies and other winter hats were also among the trending styles.
However, the true champion of this category was hair accessories. Fuelled by Tik Tok and other social media trends, a nineties revival of scrunchies, headbands and hair clips were massively popular in this period. Mega fast fashion e-tailer Shein sold the highest number of hair accessories, 27% of the sold-out items were attributed to this retailer.
Newness levels remained consistent throughout the analysis, over 1,000 new products were introduced into the three markets each month since July.
The Final Verdict on Zoom Fashion Trends
As more and more of our days are spent on video chats, the lasting impact on the way we dress will continue to grow. As informed by the insights above, Zoom has become a major influence on how consumers are shopping. None more apparent than the increased popularity of jewellery and accessories amidst a pandemic.
While Covid-19 remains rampant in many regions, especially Europe and the US, Zoom fashion has also started to influence future collections as seen in the Spring/Summer 2021 runways. However, as we reopen, we may see a shift in how these trends are perceived.
In such a volatile period of time, consumers’ wants and needs are more fragmented than ever. Tapping into the local retail climate is necessary as the situation evolves. This year, social media and digitalisation have had the biggest hand in forming the macro trends we see today. Brands and retailers will need to continuously keep a close ear on the ground and watch the market unfold to understand where, what, and how consumers are spending their money today.
This article was originally published at Inside Retail Australia in November 2020.
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