As we conclude yet another season with our monthly report on the top grossing trends in the fashion and apparel industry, it is imperative to mention that this past season has undoubtedly been one of the toughest for fashion and retail in recent years.
Regardless of the fact, the silver lining is that the industry was able to pause, take notice of, and alter to accommodate the change in consumer demands and preferences and propel the production cycle forward.
With lockdown imposed in majority of countries, customers spend more time indoors, leading to a new wave of essentials. Transitions into Work From Home formats, at-home workouts and meditation and mindfulness activities increase already in-demand categories. Furthermore, interest in an active lifestyle has shot up over the past few months that support the cause of continued demand for products and accessories that influence such a lifestyle.
Google recently revealed that daily search results for terms ‘home gym’, ‘home workout’ and ‘home fitness’ are much higher than they were back in January – a month which is regarded as the peak month for exercise promotions owing to the ‘New Year Resolutions’ vibe. This is a very positive uptick and one that brands and retailers should keep in mind while planning their future assortments.
Activewear, in this regard, has seen an unparalleled rise in demand during this period. An influx of new arrivals, observed in January, shot up to 9 per cent in Q1 for men and 13 per cent for women on a Y-o-Y basis within the US alone. February saw a slow decline in deliveries as the virus exploded in China, causing many shipments to get stuck. On the other hand, even consumers feared the transmission of the virus through surfaces.
Brands and designers who had in-house manufacturing and other local vendors managed to meet the demand by keeping stocks afloat.
Within the UK, new stock for Q12020 exceeded the numbers as witnessed in 2019 with the typical spike in January which promoted the New Year. Men’s activewear grew by 18 per cent, whilst that of women went up by 43 per cent.
Startlingly, even before the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, face masks were sought-after during numerous instances on the international fashion runways. 2 years ago, Rick Owens sent masked models down the ramp, teaming it up by giving them out to his audience as well, during his Spring/Summer showcase at Paris. Fall/Winter 2020 also saw many variations of the now termed ‘essential’ accessory appear on the runway showcases of Marine Serre, Richard Quinn, Maison Margiela and The Blonds.
Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh also unveiled a minimal black mask emblazoned with the logo of his own brand – Off-White. Priced heftily at US $ 92 (or 87 euros) a piece, the mask sold out as soon as it was launched and has since become one of the most in-demand style accessories of the fashion world.
Although some countries are lifting lockdowns and easing restrictions, many businesses are still hesitant to welcome workers back into the work space. This opens up doors to a multitude of opportunities in the Work From Home space as well.
Apparel Resources analyses the top fashion accessory trends prevalent on the Fall/Winter 2020 runways and compares them to the present day scenario to testify data that shows which accessory trends have emerged to be in tandem with real-life scenarios, as well as the direction for moving forward.
It’s no wonder that face masks sit at the top of our list as the most unexpected accessory of 2020. Even though the runways have been hinting at this trend since the past couple of years, it was more of a collective call to awaken the world towards the climate crisis affecting the planet.
But as things would have it, this intimidating accessory has found its way not only into our homes, but also in all areas of the fashion industry.
At the onset of the pandemic, many high-fashion brands and retailers stood up to the occasion and provided humanitarian support by updating their supply chains in order to manufacture PPE for frontline workers.
Also Read: ‘Mask’ a necessity with a fashion statement
With over 50 countries around the world now requiring people to cover their faces when outside their homes, the global demand for face masks has soared remarkably.
According to Edited, over 3,000 face mask options were available in stock online at the end of June across fashion retailers such as Shein, Amazon and Boohoo investing the most. Luxury and high-fashion labels are also taking in a piece of the pie by offering (ridiculously priced) branded face masks for an interested set of audience.
Solid colours such as black, white and grey emerge as the best sellers in this category, as also many designers introduce prints, patterns and illustrated versions to inject a sense of playfulness during this dull time. In the UK and US markets, investments in spot patterns increased by 84 per cent, in floral patterns by 22 per cent and in animal print styles by 5 per cent, M-o-M.
Another trend in this regard has been observed on the part of designer labels who are furthering the cause of sustainability by upcycling in-house fabric scraps and leftover materials to create face masks. In another instance, matching outfits with masks has emerged as a consistent trend which also positively impacts the trend of co-ord sets.
In spite of the ongoing trend of sports events getting cancelled, coupled with the closure of gyms and pools, there has been a huge surge in activewear sell outs being observed.
As fitness apps and gyms launch home workout sessions, retailers, brands and designers are rising to the occasion by sending out communication that encourages consumers to workout at home.
In this regard, sneakers continue to be the top seller, especially in the UK mass market with overall sell outs increasing by 23 per cent on Y-o-Y basis. Brands have been quick to incorporate loungewear styles into activewear with relaxed products such as joggers emerging as a top performing style. Consumers continue to lay emphasis on performance attributes such as grip soles, moisture-wicking and quick-dry fabrics.
What was projected as a lighter fashion trend at the beginning of the year, has, within a period of 5 months, grown to serve a more serious purpose.
At the time when the world at large was still relatively unscathed by the horrifying effects of the novel coronavirus, high fashion labels and designers alike were betting big bucks on this vintage accessory on the Fall/Winter 2020 runways. Gloves of various sizes – be it wrist-length à la Chanel, Lacoste and Gucci, or three-fourths à la Erdem and Missoni, or all the way up the elbow – sometimes even covering the entire arm à la Valentino, Giambattista Valli and Marc Jacobs were seen on the runways.
Top players such as Saint Laurent, Valentino, Moschino, and Miu Miu presented bright statement versions, whilst players like The Row introduced practical and cosy knit options. Rodarte and Rick Owens tapped on the glamour quotient by introducing experimental embellished and quirky designs.
Slippers and sandals
As the world confines itself to the comfort of homes, demand for fuss-free and comfortable footwear surges rapidly.
Furry slippers, which have been trending since Christmas, compete with sliders and mules as the top performing styles. In addition to these, knit styles are also in for homewear.
As per Edited, sandals made up 9 per cent of overall footwear sell outs in the menswear category as compared to 4 per cent in 2019, whereas in womenswear, the sell outs are currently at 35 per cent as compared to 32 per cent in 2019.
The pandemic has led to people abandoning public transport altogether and favouring outdoor activities such as picnics and walks. In such a scenario, flat and functional footwear come to the fore and experience high demand.
Hiking, which was a part of many a designer collections during the Fall/Winter 2020 showcases, emerged yet again during London’s digital fashion week through PAPER and 8IGB’s Spring 2021 collections. As the lockdown slowly opens up, it will be in the best interest of retailers and brands to leverage this interest in hiking-inspired styles with attention to soles and functional details such as buckles and straps.
With the interest in spending time outdoors increasing across the board, an emphasis on convenience and comfort is expected to be the topmost priority influencing consumers’ buying decisions.
The great outdoors
Hyper-elevated outdoor themes continue to direct the course of accessory design well into the Fall/Winter 2020 season.
Details such as padding and quilting sit alongside functional influences such as buckles, detachable and adjustable straps, etc.
Accessories such as padded backpack and holdalls are available in a multitude of premium quilted nylon. Multiple pockets provide detachable functions catering to the utility trend. Performance-based fashion is taken up a notch further with accessories such as water bottle holders with leather trims and perforated surfaces to match.
As #StayHome trends globally, so does the demand for easy, snuggle up fashion. Socks in this regard emerge as a top selling soft accessory in the mass market.
Consumers are ditching extra pieces of fashion and clothing altogether and are instead opting for a simplified approach to life and living where less is definitely more. Furry, soft socks see an upward spike when it comes to retail, accompanied by breathable varieties meant for home workouts.
As consumers sign up for group video chat workouts and at-home gym sessions, a demand for activewear socks with moisture-wicking and breathable properties increases. Cashmere is another material that is seeing an impressive turnaround.
Solid colours such as blacks, navy blues and greys dominate the activewear space, whilst colourful prints and graphics/nostalgic cartoon characters top the list under casualwear.