Re-evaluating Fall/Winter Trends in a Seasonless Landscape
Fashion has abided by the traditional seasonal calendar for decades, but Covid-19 has disrupted that altogether.
The speed at which the pandemic progressed meant that spring deliveries were hampered, as brands and retailers had minimal leeway to adapt to unprecedented changes in the market.
With seasonality so ingrained in spring assortments and the trading window disrupted, fashion businesses resorted to extensive markdowns to offload seasonal stock.
Having suffered major losses, brands and retailers are now forced to re-evaluate the market in preparation for retail’s return post-pandemic.
Major brands like Saint Laurent and Gucci have abandoned the seasonal calendar, signalling a wider movement across the industry to break the seasonal cycle that leads to rampant discounting.
To maximise recovery post-pandemic, brands and retailers must build longevity and trans-seasonal qualities into assortments to align with consumers’ needs for products they can keep in their wardrobes longer than the season.
In a seasonless landscape, validating trends is a crucial task. Internal sales data is no longer a reliable indicator of future performance – there have not been instances in the past to draw parallels from.
Brands and retailers have to turn to real-time data and analytics to make better-informed decisions quickly and more accurately.
We’ve analysed the previously forecasted Fall/Winter ‘20 trends against the current market situation to determine how trends have evolved. Let’s take a look.
Identify Winning Styles
#1 Puff Sleeves
Puff sleeve continues to cement its foothold, especially in the US market. New-ins for puff sleeve items tripled in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. While the trend is still going strong, it has evolved in terms of best-selling categories.
Previously, puff sleeves were prevalent in the outerwear category, featured heavily in coats and jackets. While that still stands, sell-outs are also occurring in the intimates category with a trend score of 10.7.
Puff sleeves are appearing in lounge sets, sleepwear and lingerie as more brands work the trend into one of the most coveted categories in the current climate. This is a great new area to dive into as there are currently minimal puff sleeve SKUs in the intimates category.
Fringe detailing dominated the Fall/Winter runways – featured abundantly in dresses and accessories. In the US and UK markets, fringe accessories are amassing sell-throughs – a deviation from March, when fringe on dresses was all the rage.
Accessories have surfaced as a leading category as the pandemic has progressed. Consumers are bundling up with hats, gloves and scarves as extra measures to protect themselves from the virus. Fringe is another example of how trends with true staying power can evolve based on market shifts. The accent has also made its way into the best-selling category in the pandemic – activewear.
Check trumped animal print as the pattern of choice during the Fall/Winter 2020 fashion month, where it was a common sighting on runways. The pattern’s new-ins increased by 18% in 2019, but that growth has been stunted in recent months – its YoY growth only reaching 1%.
Despite minimal new-ins, check achieved high sell-outs in the US and UK markets. Previously, check outerwear and tops fared best, but the list of best-selling categories now includes accessories and activewear. The chart below depicts categories featuring the pattern that went out of stock in the US and UK.
Spot Emerging Colour Trends
During the runway season, grey transpired as the standout hue. This coincides with the colour’s performance in the US and UK markets, where it was trending.
The neutral shade maintained its position as a best-selling colour in recent months, along with white. These core colours are recording high sell-outs in the activewear category as consumers stock up on the basics for prolonged stays at home.
Autumnal shades of yellow made waves on the runways but did not have an effect on the mass market until recently. Extended lockdowns have compelled consumers to gravitate towards brighter hues to add colour to their mundane day-to-day.
Yellow has emerged as a leading colour in recent months – its newness increasing by 24% YoY. It has also outperformed other colours in the US and UK markets, consistently staying above the average trend line.
Neon has been making a comeback and is set to dominate in the coming months. This bold colour trend was heavily represented in previous runway seasons but hasn’t always translated well to the mass market. Its new-in SKUs only increased by 5% this year.
However, neon has been trending in several categories – activewear, tops, swimwear and accessories. Sell-out performance for neon products in the US and UK markets is better than 2019, indicating that the trend is on an upward trajectory.
Stay on Top of Shifting Trends with Real-time Data
It is imperative for brands and retailers to stay on top of shifting trends to prevent further losses. Several previously forecasted trends, including Victorian accents and leather clothing, are now defunct – consumer needs have shifted and they are not gaining much traction in the market.
While some trends have maintained a foothold in the market, the leading categories have shifted due to current circumstances. Trends have evolved to include unconventional categories that many would not have expected, such as fringe activewear.
With real-time data, brands and retailers are able to react quickly to these changes. The unpredictable nature of the pandemic means that the current trends may vary again and when they do, those that are best positioned to respond will have the most to gain.
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