An offshoot of the Avant-basic and Y2K aesthetics, the Coconut Girl has been TikTok-established as the successor to 2019’s VSCO Girl and a Gen Z summer subculture to target.
Gen Z are the ultimate tastemakers so it’s no wonder brands are trying to stay on top of all the subcultures that have bubbled up through TikTok. Read on for cause to back this latest trend, alongside investment direction.
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Why it’s important
It’s trending online
Interest in the subculture has been bubbling up since early May when Pinterest searches peaked in the US, while the UK recorded its highest spike at the end of last month. Searches remain high across both regions and the #coconutgirl hashtag has also racked up over 41.1 million views on TikTok. This underscores the necessity for retailers to speak to this trend through their summer assortments and marketing.
We all want to be at the beach
Following a year locked down, beach culture has never been more appealing. This aesthetic plays into macro themes propelled by consumers’ yearning for a long-awaited vacation – swimwear’s resurgence and the Hot Vax Summer. With international travel still up in the air, the Coconut Girl aesthetic can be promoted with local destinations in mind. US consumers are flocking to Miami, which saw its busiest period over the Memorial Day weekend since the pandemic started, while Cornwall is an important holiday location in the UK.
Surf brands are stocked at Gen Z’s favorite retailers
Just as skate brands experienced a revival amid the streetwear boom, Australian surf labels popular in the 90s and early aughts are gaining cult status with younger consumers. Boasting beach vibes and Y2K-friendly graphics, these brands are the foundation of the Coconut Girl aesthetic and resonate with Zoomers due to their presence at ASOS, PacSun and Urban Outfitters. Additionally, there’s been a 6% increase in US retailers stocking products from Roxy, Billabong, Quiksilver and Rip Curl, helping connect the next generation with quintessential board sport brands.
There’s a transgenerational appeal
Gen Z yearns for Kay Bug (Y2K) fashion because they can refine looks from eras they haven’t endured. The Coconut Girl aesthetic will also hit millennials right in the feels as they revisit the nostalgia of Roxy Girl fashion and trends inspired by The OC or another coastal-based show, increasing the reach of items merchandised within this theme.
It complements the outdoor sports boom
COVID fueled the rise of outdoor activities. The percentage of people increasing their time outdoors over lockdown grew from 11% in May to 22% in July, with this spike persisting throughout the summer of 2020. In between sun baking, the Coconut Girl aesthetic can be woven in to promote outdoor sports such as surfing and paddleboarding.
How to invest
The Coconut Girl palette ranges from tequila sunrise hues to dreamy pastels – the more dominant color scheme with new May apparel up 92% YoY. Scaled-up tropical/Hawaiian prints and surfer girl florals such as hibiscus and frangipanis are the defining patterns, which should be applied to three-piece bikini sets with matching mini sarongs, short-sleeved shirts or accessories for maximum effect. Gen Z’s penchant for Y2K dressing has boosted investment in products that straddle both aesthetics such as halter tops, terry toweling and apparel with noughties-inspired motifs such as surf scenes, dolphins and butterflies. Following lockdown trends, summer camp and DIY style jewelry has been a core accessories investment. This extends to the Coconut Girl, which is complemented by crochet accessories and floral jewelry. Puka shell jewelry has seen a resurgence with new styles up 147% YoY.
The core beauty trends span from minimal and sunkissed to girly and experimental. The key products in this subculture’s baskets include fake tan, bronzer, Vitamin C serums and for hair, texturizing salt sprays to achieve beachy waves.
For the more creative consumer, temporary glitter tattoos, bright eyeshadows and blue nail varnish are standouts in Coconut Girl beauty tutorials. As this consumer cares about the ocean, keep reef-safe sunscreen and biodegradable glitter in mind.
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