The Spring/Summer Fashion Trends Taking 2021 by Storm
This year’s Spring/Summer fashion trends encapsulate current consumer sentiment in the new normal. With the lifestyle changes forced upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic, the trends that are making waves in the market now are far from those that did in past years. In uncharted territory, historical sales data is moot and the need for more accurate demand validation is more urgent than ever.
Ahead of Spring, we’ve scoured trend sources like the runways and social media then layered them with data analytics so you know exactly which trends to track this season.
Top Spring/Summer Fashion Trends
As lockdowns were imposed and lifted numerous times in 2020, there has been a shift towards comfort and casualisation across the globe with extended periods spent working from home. During the Spring/Summer 2021 fashion month, this shift reflected on the runways where loungewear, oversized fits and relaxed silhouettes dominated. With consumers acclimated to remote working, we can expect it to affect their shopping habits in the long-term.
In other words, trends that fit the new comfort shift while still being appropriate for work will have better longevity in the near future.
The Jacket & Bralette Combo
The bralette was a hero piece of Spring/Summer fashion weeks, cropping up at numerous shows including Alberta Ferretti, Emilia Wickstead, Hermès, Molly Goddard and Christian Siriano. Oversized jackets were often paired with bralettes, sparking a new trend that transitions seamlessly from loungewear to Zoom meetings.
The mass market has not yet caught on to this trend. However, a high sell-out rate for bralettes among key retailers indicates that the demand is there. Retailers can take this opportunity to drive sales through visual merchandising and product styling. Highlighting the bralette and jacket combination in product shoots can help speed up adoption and increase consumers’ basket size while shopping as they would want to buy the complementary items together.
A classic silhouette, the wide-leg style has been catching up to skinny pants in popularity. The desire for comfort and practicality dictates consumer preferences. Now, most tend to reach for more relaxed fits to accommodate long periods at home.
Designers caught on too, the style was featured extensively at the Spring/Summer fashion weeks. As lockdowns lifted, comfort-seeking tendencies stayed and wide-leg pants took over as the subcategory of choice. The wide-leg style is performing well even in the jeans category, where the skinny cut has long reigned.
The chart above depicts the trade performance of key US & UK retailers for the pants & leggings category. Wide-leg pants not only charted the highest sell-out rate but is currently the most-stocked pants category.
A combination of factors was responsible for the resurgence of tracksuits. Back in the early 2000s, matching velour tracksuits was a wardrobe staple. Celebrities donned the head-to-toe tonal ensemble everywhere and it quickly trickled down to the mass market.
As consumers have exhausted trends borrowed from the 80s and 90s, Y2K styles are the latest to make a comeback. It came at the perfect time as the trend corresponds with loungewear, which is still one of the best-selling categories in fashion. Kim Kardashian West released a velour tracksuit collection for her SKIMS line in collaboration with Paris Hilton. The launch was a nod to the early 2000s and the tracksuit trend, which they helped popularise at the time.
Analysing the trade movement of key retailers in the US and UK, categories tagged with the keyword ‘sweatshirt’ have accumulated strong sell-out. Sales shot up in May at the height of Covid-19 then dipped before peaking in January 2021. This is likely due to an uptick in new year’s resolutions, making January a prime time for athleisure sales.
People went out of their way to detach from the bleak reality this past year. Some turned to nature, regularly going for hikes and other outdoor activities to unload pent-up adventure tendencies from months of travel bans. Others indulged in escapism from the comforts of their home, binge-watching the latest Netflix shows and participating in online conversations that trail them.
More often than not, these activities influence consumers’ purchasing decisions, which reflects in their choice of attire.
Floaty Maxi Dresses
The Cottagecore craze of 2020 gave rise to floaty maxi dresses, seen in abundance on the runways and consumers. Several months on, its popularity has yet to die down. In fact, maxi dresses are in demand again thanks to the mania surrounding Netflix’s Bridgerton.
The elaborate costume design of the period drama was as much a focal point as the addictive plot. Audience interest rose and soon they were emulating the Regency era fashion depicted in the show. This was one of the key drivers of the maxi dress trend, one of the best-selling dress styles last year.
Dresses tagged under ‘maxi’ boasted a 73% sell-out rate throughout 2020, proving that the trend is here to stay. Identifying in-demand subcategories for the maxi silhouette aids design and assortment planning to accurately meet consumer expectations. Maxi tunic dresses registered the highest sell-out rate despite its low product contribution, which indicates a supply shortage. The subcategory’s low discount also makes it a strong contender for full-price sales.
While it is not as prominent in womenswear as it is in men’s’, the utility trend has been gaining traction again since slowly fading two years back. The practicality of utility pieces fits with current consumer lifestyles and excursions into nature, which has grown twofold since the pandemic started.
The strong trade performance of utility categories like shirt jackets, otherwise known as ‘shackets’ could be due to an increase in outdoor activities and the Adventurecore movement. The utility mainstay has consistently outperformed other categories, showing stability over six months.
As lockdowns give rise to remote working and virtual learning, trends are now dictated by the parts of us that are instantly visible during Zoom meetings. While consumers are prioritising comfort from the shoulders down, the perimeters of the face provide an opportunity to dress up casual ensembles with statement accessories.
Hats, hair accessories and twillies have been trending up in the US & UK markets along with face masks. As masks became a daily essential, their roles extended beyond safeguarding the wearer to creating a fashion statement. Now offered in various colours, patterns and materials, consumers can easily tie face masks to their outfits and complete their ensembles. Brands and retailers in turn can incorporate unique designs to capture the market.
Visibility into Market is Key
As the season progresses, visibility into market changes is crucial to help retailers adjust their strategies accordingly. With the Covid-19 vaccine on the horizon, consumer priorities and preferences are bound to shift. When it happens, retailers with access to market insights will be best-placed to act quickly and reap opportunities ahead of their competitors.
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