What is a Coastal Grandmother?
The escapist, minimalist subculture that embraces a lifestyle by the coast is the latest aesthetic going viral on TikTok.
EDITED recently explored the market impact of Bimbocore, fueled by Y2K dressing and Pamela Anderson experiencing a pop culture renaissance. This week, we unpack the Coastal Grandmother subculture, which is not limited to summer or older generations despite the name!
Read on to find out the signature products and retailers can transition the trend into fall.
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The Coastal Grandmother aesthetic embraces a beachy lifestyle and is the latest escapist subculture taking over TikTok, with the term amassing over 1.1bn views. Nancy Meyer movies serve as key inspiration across apparel, accessories and home interiors.
Despite its coastal associations, the subculture isn’t just limited to summer. Tried-and-tested trends with little seasonal anchoring form its backbone, such as neutral hues, turtlenecks and button-down shirts.
Centered around a more pared-back look and “anti-trend” merchandise, it’s a chance to sell to those seeking a more minimalist aesthetic over sexy and dopamine dressing.
With natural origins and breathable qualities essential traits of the subculture, utilize edits to drive sales of linen apparel. Arrivals have uplifted by 15% YoY. Straw and white bucket hats should also be promoted, offering a chance to increase sell-through outside of the festival season and cross-merchandise with white dresses and sliders.
The Aesthetic’s Roots
The escapist, laid-back subculture was popularized by TikToker Lex Nicolet, with the term’s hashtag already garnering over 1.1bn views. Movies by filmmaker Nancy Meyers serve as key inspiration, drawing on a beachy lifestyle and the outfits of the respective female protagonists played by Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep in films such as Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated. It has captured consumers’ interest, with “Coastal Grandmother Outfits” and “Nancy Meyers Aesthetic” Pinterest searches surging. Celebrities embracing the trend so far include Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez and JLo.
Why it has Longevity
It Incorporates Perennial Trends
From neutral hues to button-down shirts and cashmere sweaters, tried-and-tested year-round trends with little seasonal anchoring form the backbone of the aesthetic. It holds appeal to all demographics, spanning Gen Z to the mid & mature market. Poster brands include Eileen Fisher and Ralph Lauren.
It’s an Antidote to Sexy & Dopamine Dressing
While the sexy dressing renaissance is alive and thriving in retail, this new subculture is centered around a more modest aesthetic and embraces pared-back “anti-trend” merchandise. This provides a selling opportunity to target consumers wishing to buy into a more minimalist aesthetic.
The Summer Staples
There is a 15% uplift in linen apparel retailing YoY, with more retailers referencing its natural and eco origins and breathable qualities – essential traits of the subculture. Pants and shirts are key garments.
A quintessential piece, push white and blue-stripe shirts as an easy layering item. Blue is the top-stocked trend color at 12%, with Nasty Gal, Free People and M&S holding the most options.
Amid the shape’s revival, mini dresses’ share of the mix has grown YoY, accounting for 33%. Cross-sell with other subculture staples, such as twee A-Line dresses and sporty, preppy styles.
The accessory anchors the aesthetic. The subculture presents a prime chance to drive sell-throughs of bucket hat inventory, notably white and straw styles, outside of festival and vacation promotions.
Leverage the silhouette to build add-on sales in Coastal Grandmother edits, marketing it as an essential piece for beach trips. 14% of totes are currently described as woven, straw or crochet.
Contrasting the Y2K-chunky trends that are infiltrating sandal assortments, minimalist leather sliders and strappy flat sandals are essential shapes and will remain commercial investments for SS23.
Images via Abercrombie & Fitch Jigsaw, American Eagle Outfitters
Transition to Fall
Banana Republic, Everlane and H&M all marketed cashmere’s transitional attributes last fall. Cashmere sweaters serve as a higher-ticket, premium buy in the subculture.
Transition the aesthetic’s palette of whites and pale blues to greys and neutrals on turtleneck tops and sweaters – these act as a bridge between core yet trend-led basics.
Matching PJs and robes in linen and cotton will appeal throughout fall and are also a prominent gifting opportunity. Soft florals, strips and pastels are key details.
Stuck with surplus loungewear stock? Reposition neutral sets for an at-home relaxing Coastal Grandmother vibe and as a warmer alternative to linen pants for fall. Consider launching a trend landing page based on the subculture in your navigation menu and including loungewear to maximize exposure.
High Summer Season & Labor Day
Build out Coastal Grandmother edits in high-season vacation campaigns and for the long Labor Day weekend (September 5th). Stalwart summer trends should feature to help sell through any remaining SKUs. White swimwear and dresses, breezy shirts, bucket hats, straw bags and sliders are your go-to items.
Don’t Forget Homeware
The aesthetic isn’t confined to apparel and accessories. Coastal decor, kitchens and bedrooms are also popular searches on Pinterest as consumers seek to incorporate the coastal look into their daily lives. Interior items that channel a Nancy Meyers movie set that you may already have in your assortment include cashmere throws, colored glasses, decorated fruit bowls, blue and white print pillows and bedding, wooden kitchenware and wicker furniture. The likes of Garnet Hill, Amara and Serena & Lily have all capitalized on the subculture in recent email edits.