The coming of age drama that has broken records for BBC Three, has propelled the original book by Sally Rooney to number one in the UK. The subtlety of the story echoes the pace of life that we’re living through lockdown, contributing to its relatability and success.
With its nostalgic ‘00s setting, Normal People satiates this generation’s need for nostalgia. We analyze the wardrobe worn by the cast and indicate trends to consider in your assortment.
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The item with the strongest association with a character can appeal across genders. It spawned not only memes but its own Instagram account, where @connellschain has 140k followers. The piece is a constant with the main character through the years as we follow the couple and is symbolic of his working class roots in contrast to Marianne’s affluent upbringing. The chain is a charming token that amplifies crushes on Connell – hence the Instagram account.
While they’re not explicit mentions, we’ve noted fine chains used in styling at a number or retailers in recent weeks. Retailers should call this out more clearly to riff off the hype. Argos own the ‘Argos chic’ tag that is in the book with a social post and report that searches are up 56% on its site. This isn’t exclusive to menswear either as womenswear retailers should think about poking fun at crushes on the character.This product offers up an accessible price to buy into the aesthetic from the show and can also be merchandised as a gift for a crush.
The pitch where Connell shines as a sporting stud lays the scene where Marianne really falls for him. Its Gaelic football – an amalgamation of soccer/football and rugby. The English premiership was cut short but it’s potentially back as early as June with games played behind closed doors. Since Euro 2020 was cancelled, the BBC has already announced it will rerun old tournaments. With sports absent from screens for months, there will be high interest in all things football focused when it’s back.
For considerations in the womenswear market, think more about the rugby side. This was a theme central to Versace and Burberry’s Fall 2020 shows. On April 28th, Dsquared2 communicated a pre-order option for a Fall Pre-Collection that’s inline with this look – ‘inspired by the impactful heritage of raw football stadiums and pretty rowing clubs.’ Gap has also featured retro shirts ‘back from the archive.’ Think of it as a British extension of the varsity trend into next season.
Marianne’s bangs are the female counterpart to Connell’s chain. Synonymous with the leading lady, the hairstyle has sent social media users into a spin. While many men in lockdown have shaved their heads, Marianne has prompted females into considering cutting their own bangs. If your brand offers accessories to complement this style, pull them into place or spotlight styling products to help maintain the look. Searches for ‘home haircuts’ have increased +417% on Pinterest as do-it-yourself has come to the fore with salons and spas closed. For social channels, consider a guide to cutting your own fringe.
Another inspiration for accessories stem from Peggy, the charismatic best friend of Marianne who utilizes jeweled hair bands and statement earrings. Retailers should use this character as a model to push more detailed occasionwear accessories from wedding assortments that may be stalling in movement.
Classic white sneakers and plimsolls are revived – scuffed or not.Little else represents careless youth like a pair of well-worn sneakers, a trend both Marianne and Connell adopt at numerous points in the series. For him, a battered pair of tennis sneakers. While for her, a more classic canvas plimsoll.
White trainers crop up with consistent regularity in retailers’ visual merchandising and at runway shows. With little seasonal anchor, it provides an investment opportunity with longevity. As customers increasingly reach for nostalgic references, recent releases like the classic adidas Originals Superstan are a smart move. In the same vein, nostalgia has thrown the idea of DIY and customization into the mix.
Consider a fun visual merchandising angle that encourages customers to revive old sneakers with new laces or badges.
A simple google search for ‘Marianne Black Dress’ brings up a host of black calf-length spaghetti strap styles from retailers including H&M, & Other Stories and Whistles. The inspiration – a broderie anglaise design worn during the character’s trip to Italy – is a sophisticated evolution from the body-con number she wears to a high school event.
Edit any strappy designs into communications around staycations, holidays from home or dressing up for an evening al-fresco in the garden. Keep an eye on this style as we move into fall. The slower pace of the market currently may mean an updated design would work for the occasionwear season later in the year. Retailers with more casual offerings can take direction from Marianne’s loose gingham shift dress, working day dresses into edits for trips to the park or daily exercise.
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Contributions by Retail Analysts rebecca and Katherine.