While the cooler months ushered in a second wave of confirmed cases and store closures, fall wasn’t all doom and gloom.
It’s no surprise that activewear, loungewear and sleepwear continued to wield demand, earning the status of pandemic hero categories. This report rounds up what other products kept retailers’ heads above water alongside how to evolve them for next year.
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First, who’s finishing 2020 on a high (as possible) note and how are they doing it?
Nike has managed to thrive amid the pandemic, laser-focusing its direct-to-consumer strategy implemented years earlier by cutting ties with wholesale parties such as Zappos and Dillard’s to have greater control over its brand image and consumer experience.
The home workout boom continued to benefit Lululemon, which reported its e-comm business in North America boosted net revenue by 19%. Additionally, third-quarter sales rose 22% YoY.
The Zara vs. H&M battle continued with Inditex reporting November sales in local currencies up 81% YoY, rising to 87% in the first 10 days of December. In comparison, rival H&M witnessed a setback from its optimistic June to August recovery, reporting a 22% decline YoY in October and November sales.
Meanwhile, the UK high street is in strife as Topshop and Burton’s parent company Arcadia filed for administration and Debenhams set to close 124 stores.
Now, time to take a closer look at the successful products for FW20. Analyzing the US and UK market as a whole, did you have any of these winners in your assortment?
This style was an all-rounder across men’s and womenswear. Large scale plaids were the favored prints, while deep pockets and ergonomic details satisfied the ongoing demand for utility trends. Wool blends also saw success, ramping up the cozy factor and making the shacket the perfect transition piece for wearing in and outdoors layered under coats. A staple adopted by leading streetwear labels adds to the longevity of this style in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, black continues to be the top-performing shade market-wide. However, neutrals are growing in importance and stacking up to be a solid consumer favorite season-on-season. Analyzing retailers’ core hues (black, white, grey and neutrals) reveals the latter to be the second best-selling shade in womenswear for fall, equalling 22% of sell outs, outpaced only by black.
Despite grey and white making up a higher percentage of sell outs, demand for neutral shades in menswear is growing. Sell outs in this market were up 27% vs. FW2019. This hue was essential within comfort dressing throughout fall, applying itself to sweaters, cardigans, hoodies and T-shirts in cottons, jerseys and fleeces.
Comfort dressing may have reigned supreme, but leather and pleather were highly sought after trends for consumers’ post-pandemic wardrobe. Chocolate hues, which were a mainstay on the Kardashian Klan’s Instagrams provided an alternative to traditional black leather with earthy hues favored across other materials. A key ingredient in the sexy dressing trend, which is backed by Spring 2021 runways, leather is expected to prevail in 2021. Ensure you’re investing in vegan alternatives to attract the plant-based consumer.
As the outdoors became the ultimate destination to combat lockdown fatigue, puffer jackets were so popular in fall 2020 consumers were willing to pay a higher price point. The number of new styles selling out exceeded fall 2019 by 74% YoY. Longline styles and neutral shades drove demand. Retailers used this style to invest in eco-friendly materials and communicated their sustainability efforts with a spotlight on recycled polyester and down for the shell and padding.
Off the back of a successful spring, the bodysuit cemented itself as a must-have in retailers’ core assortments. The viral basic saw a 5% lift in new sell outs vs. fall 2019 with ribbed, sleeveless, seamless and ruched styles resonating the most with consumers. As loungewear evolves into more everyday-wear, retailers are casualizing lingerie, making this item ideal to transition between the two. For future updates, look to Zara’s first intimates collections that included a sheer bodysuit, and the upcoming Skims boyfriend drop with classic boxer and tank shapes in lightweight jersey as inspiration for unitards.
A now evergreen style in retailers’ accessories buys, new face mask styles continued to drop weekly, with a spike in November that coincided with the second lockdown enforced in the UK. As masks are still required even with the COVID vaccine, this item will show no signs of slowing down. Now ingrained in our daily lives, your customers will be looking to own more than one to wear for different purposes. With the activewear market booming, it makes sense to look into masks designed for exercise that are breathable and wick moisture. Non-active retailers can also take cues from this market with the rise of mascne and single-use masks washed up on beaches around the world. There is opportunity for retailers to take the same approach to material innovation as apparel, prioritizing better quality and reusable face masks.
Bookmarked by us as one of fall’s hottest fashion trends, combat-style boots with chunky lug soles were among the most popular silhouettes in footwear, witnessing full price sell outs at Office, & Other Stories and H&M. Associated with the survivalist aesthetic of a post-pandemic dystopia, this shape feeds into future streetwear and utility trends. Tough silhouettes will continue to shape future boot updates with hiking design elements the focus of 2021 footwear.
This shape, which transcends athleisure and streetwear, emerged as a much-needed update to loungewear assortments and allowed retailers to chase a more premium price point than the crew neck. Back in April, mass brands such as ASOS experienced full price majority sell outs in under a month, indicating its year-round appeal. The trend is still in an early adoption phase so retailers can test demand with core hues in solid colorways, merchandised with loungewear essentials to create a tonal comfort story.
The cardigan appealed to consumers as a dressier alternative to hoodies and sweatshirts, and an easy buy-in to fall’s viral Dark Academia trend. New cardigan sell outs were up 74% for men with details such as zippers, ribbed cuffs and collars driving demand. For womenswear, new arrivals selling out increased by 90% compared to last fall, with cable and ribbed knits, embellished buttons and longline or oversized silhouettes key trends of interest. V-neck shapes were prominent on spring 2021 knitwear showcased by luxury designers, presenting a no-risk update for future buys. Additionally, merchandising with matching sets and investment in premium fabrics or blends can help increase the average sale price and basket spend.
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