The lofty and luxurious collections of fashion week are a joy. Their craftsmanship and high concepts make for great art, and theatre. But beneath the fantasy lies the reality: for the majority of consumers the clothes are simply out of reach. And those shows, for the most part, hold little commercial sway. When high-fashion’s themes do make into the broader retail arena, they’re often so diluted they hardly resemble their source.
Yet, thanks to premium brands looking to optimize on the media attention, fashion weeks also have their highly commercial collections. It’s these shows that the industry really sits up and pays attention to. They’re a direct heads-up about what the competition is planning for next season. Pair that with some market data it’s possible to gauge how successful the components will be.
To show you what we mean, let’s have a look at four of the biggest commercial shows from 2015 and see what the data has to tell us about them.
For Spring 2016 J.Crew has opted for a tonal palette full of sand, grass green, navy, lemon and peach. It’s easing off on the bright citrus of Fall and the cerulean of Spring 2015. This latest collection is print heavy, with stripes, gingham and plaids layered upon one another – sometimes all in one look.
There was a peasant-boho suggestion in the off-shoulder dresses and tops – a key trend for Spring and one which J.Crew tested in Spring 2015 by stocking Apiece Apart’s Milo smocked top at $260.00. A slimline 70s look was present in its denim front-split pencil skirt, neat button-down paired with neckerchief and gingham trench paired with aviators. On the whole the collection leaned boyish, a good thing too, considering Spring 2015’s military pieces sold well. The message was delivered clearly by all those plaid shirts. As well as wide culottes worn with blazer (albeit sequinned) and a slouchy pant, vest and blazer combination. Those sequins are stand-out. In plaid formation they’re hints of Ashish and offer a move-on from Spring 2014’s $98.00 sequinned board shorts.
In accessories, J.Crew’s clutch bags have gone down in size but up in embellishment. They’ve also introduced some great wicker-basket bags which will no doubt be seen throughout Brooklyn’s farmers markets come Spring. The statement earrings stuck around and footwear included clog-style mules, plain white plimsolls and fun strappy gingham heels.
The gingham button downs, shrunken seersucker blazers will sell well – they’re J.Crew staples. And the retailer hasn’t run a pleated skirt as lightweight as the new season’s plissé, so that should be a fresh hit. The only hiccup in the offering: a floral jacquard a-line skirt. Data from Spring 2015 shows a similar ‘Midnight’ floral jacquard skirt needed heavy discounting to sell out.
Banana Republic’s show, coming just weeks before Creative Director and Executive Vice President Marissa Webb announced she’ll be stepping down from those roles, was their first collaboration with designer Timo Weiland. The result featured some quirkier-than-usual prints but mostly stayed true to BR’s business casual formula.
Shirting, raw-edged denim and chambray were the focus here. The show’s second look, a striped shirtdress, is the perfect update to Spring 2015’s successful $79.99 chambray shirt dress which sold out within three weeks of its April arrival. The coming season will see BR play with texture more than usual – in laser cut lace, oversized net, tasseled bags and shoes, large embellishment on tops and a brilliant tufted polka dot sweater in black and white that will be a hit.
In June 2015 Banana Republic’s heritage floral midi dress at $150.00 sold out in just 11 days. That shape has made a return for Spring 2016 – this time with a photographic floral (that might be veering on the too-quirky side) and minus the waist cut-outs. That’s a wise way to appeal to a broader range of customers.
A coral knitted polo shirt was a stroke of genius. It happens to be very similar to those shown in Stella McCartney’s collection. There’s a fair chance it’ll make it to the magazine pages come Spring.
The menswear remained crisp – hints of nautical and safari among tonal layering of suit pieces. A suit in ditsy floral and another bold plaid shorts suit stood out.
For Spring 2016 Topshop Unique moved away from the sporty aesthetic of Spring 2015. Instead, it continued along the modish route of Fall. This time 60s, with hints of androgyny and an overall air of romanticism. There were dark-grounded floral prints to move Fall’s dandelion story on, as well as a busier petal print on loose fit shirts, side-split skirts and diaphanous dresses.
Where Fall was boxy and neat, Topshop’s cuts for Spring 2016 are languorous and flirty. There’s ruching (to the front of racy sheer lace dresses, complete with matching embroidered knickers!), flounces, hurriedly tied sashes, unbuttoned cuffs and slit shoulders and skirts. Spring 2015 included a number of shiny slip dresses for partying and they didn’t sell well. Perhaps because once off the figure they didn’t look great in flat-lay imagery. The ruched and flounced numbers from this season may suffer the same fate.
Wide pants sold well for Topshop Unique in Spring 2015 but it’s moving back to straight leg next season with polka dot cigarette pants, cropped stonewash denim and grey suiting pants. The sporty sweaters of Spring 2015 turned more literal for Spring 2016 – open knit cricket jumpers in white, black and red. Blazers, bomber jackets, a puffed-up trench and a number of faux-fur pieces were worthy inclusions suited to March arrivals.
It may be a higher price point than the retailers above, but Kate Spade is still highly commercial. It’s easy to trace the design decisions back to the performance of previous collections. Stand-out pieces like the leather bracelet-sleeved jacket in beige are reworks of previous hits. This one updates the Mariya jacket from Spring 2015, which in the same shade and priced at $1048.00 sold out in five sizes. The Spring 2016 reworking has a more of a biker look with a funnel neck, zip details and slightly longer sleeves.
The daisy print shown for next season will update the cutesy cat print and dancing heart prints from Spring 2015 and the “Ooh la la” sweater will replace this year’s “The Cat’s Meow” sweater. Spring 2015’s Chevron Aria shirt dress, at $848.00, sold well and returns with a sunflower print. The Marit skirt which sold well in chevron, butterfly and floral prints returns in sequin stripe – a good way to push price up on a shape consumers have confidence in.
Overall the collection featured on signature florals, preppy stripes, monochromatic pairings and, of course, quirky bags. This time around it was a fairground theme on accessories: the ‘Admit One’ ticket clutch, the carousel bag and an ice cream van clutch all hints of Kate Spade’s breezy humour.
Having market-wide visibility and access to commercial data is vital for retailers who want to buy into the right trends each season. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.