As temperatures ascend, more consumers are inclined to the versatility of dresses. Often a pinnacle of femininity, dresses are often an important selection for any retailer or brand with a womenswear section. Being one of the few categories that is almost exclusive to womenswear, it is crucial to understand the demands and shifts in trends among women. As more dress codes are leading towards leniency due to more millennials occupying the global workforce, this could affect the popularity and shift in dress styles.
Trends, prints and hemlines vary throughout the year and by now, retailers and merchandisers should know that one wrong move during production can set up a chain of complications, resulting in overstocking and poor sales. Such an issue caused a major setback on one of the world’s biggest fast fashion retailer, H&M, so what more to a smaller and less-established retailer or brand?
The Lowdown on Dresses
By using retail data, we were able to browse through and analyse the dresses category to study its performance so far in 2018. Two retailers from different markets were used to determine if such trends and performances were universal or only pertainable to a specific region. Pomelo Fashion was used for Singapore’s market and NEXT for United Kingdom.
The chart above illustrates the popularity of subcategories among dresses for Pomelo Fashion, and the results were rather jarring. Consumers seemed to have grown out of maxi dresses, opting for midi dresses instead.
As for NEXT’s results, the SKU count was, of course, significantly higher than Pomelo Fashion. However, the subcategories above varied slightly. Bodycon dresses were included instead of slip dresses (as included in Pomelo Fashion’s chart) due to their significant performance. Both charts from different markets proved that midi dresses were all the rage when it came to hemlines. While the sequence of the subcategories were not similar, the popularity of them remained apparent.
It is no surprise that black reigned supreme among dresses for both retailers given its universal versatility. However, upon analysing the subsequent colours, we deduced that Pomelo Fashion consumers (Singapore) were purchasing lighter colours such as white and pink whereas NEXT consumers (United Kingdom) opted for darkers shades like blue and red.
From left to right (all from Pomelo Fashion): Mid A-Line Shirt Dress, Midi Sleeveless Button Up Floral Dress, Midi V-Neck Balloon Sleeves Striped Dress, Viola Midi Striped Wrap Dress
The image above are dresses that performed exceptionally well for Pomelo Fashion, experiencing constant stockouts and replenishments during the timeframe. We witnessed similar patterns for dresses – printed (especially vertical stripes) shirt-type dresses with a tied cinching at the waist.
From left to right (all from NEXT): Boden Navy Spot On Stripe Modern Shirt Dress, Angeleye Wrap Polka Dot Midi Dress, Oasis Blue Bouquet Bird Tie Sleeve Wrap Midi Dress, Lipsy V neck Bodycon Dress
NEXT’s best-selling dresses bore similarities to Pomelo Fashion – printed and mid-length. The latter best-selling dress indicated a preference for more bodycon silhouettes with plunging neck lines for “night-time” dresses, which could explain the popularity of the bodycon subcategory from NEXT.
Out With The Old, In With The New
Besides analysing what consumers actually want, it is also crucial to understand what consumers are no longer interested in. It seems almost redundant to produce and market dated items that no longer hold the interest of consumers, which will eventually lead to an overstock issue and rampant discounting.
From left to right (all from Pomelo Fashion): Katheryn Long Sleeve Ruffle Dress, Elly Long Sleeve Dress, Shamon Midi Striped Shirt Dress
For Pomelo Fashion, long-sleeved shift dresses performed poorly, rarely going out-of-stock and replenished despite being in the market for three months. The dresses above highly contrasted the cinched silhouettes of their bestsellers.
From left to right (all from NEXT): Joe Browns Womens Short Sleeve Jersey Dress, Boden Blue Casual Jersey Dress, Seasalt Carnmoggas Dress Window Box Marine
As for NEXT, despite bearing similar silhouettes to the bestsellers, these dresses failed to make a hit for the British retailer. Judging from its similarities, we could decipher that perhaps capped sleeve jersey dresses may be a thing of the past for consumers.
Simultaneously, there has been a spike among retailers following in Zara’s footsteps to have the shortest supply chain period as possible. This can be complemented with access to retail data that allows instant comprehension of trends and pieces that are flying off the racks, allowing such retailers to constantly churn out in-demand items and halt or slow down production for dated items.
The fleeting nature of fashion requires the instant knowledge of the current market. Sticking to intuition and word-of-mouth is no longer competent, as nothing is more accurate than data. In the age where brand loyalty is increasingly scarce, failing to entice consumers with the right assortment might send them into the arms of your competitors. Sure, trends for dresses may not be as outlandish as ugly sneakers, but its relevance for consumers is no doubt pivotal for the growth of a retailer.
Given the current fast-paced nature of fashion, it is of utmost importance to hold a firm grasp on the present market that will garner most patronage from consumers. Failure to do so might result in setbacks that could snowball into major tribulations for a retailer.
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The data above was obtained from Omnilytics, real-time market data platform. The numbers and statistics may vary, as the platform is updated every day. The time period of the information taken was between 1st January 2018 to 31st May 2018.