The EDITED Retail Analysts share their top picks for the fashion trends set to shape retail next year.
The EDITED Retail Analysts have been closely monitoring this year’s essential runway, lifestyle and pop culture stories (for us, binge-watching Tiger King is research!) to understand the direction fashion is heading in 2021. Read on as they share their exclusive learnings for the trends you need to consider this upcoming year.
In our previous articles, we wrapped up the defining trends shaping sustainability and the retail landscape in 2021. Now, familiarize yourself with the major themes that will influence women’s, men’s, children’s and beauty products, alongside industry insight and key commercial data.
Aoife Byrne, womenswear
Top pick: Comfort and casualization
2020 was officially the year of the sweatpant, lauded by the New York Times and backed by celebrities and influencers across the globe. This shift to casualization was also apparent in the SS21 shows, which saw the catwalk awash with elasticized waists, slouchy hoodies and luxe slippers for the first time. In retail, brands pivoted to increase investment in loungewear, while active and sleepwear categories also reaped the rewards of the new home-centric lifestyle.
Though a vaccine is on the horizon and some have returned to work, this year has marked a shift in silhouette, ensuring loungewear’s longevity. Many office workers have recently found themselves with the permanent option of working from home. This, in turn, provides increased discretionary income from the dissolution of their daily commute and city living, opening up a market for retailers to tap into.
While some will have a bigger budget to spend on their home wardrobe, many others will be hard hit by the recession, so it’s important to offer a range of price points to cater to both consumer types. Versatile products will be a key investment with pieces smart enough to be worn for a meeting, but still comfortable enough to be worn around the house. Denim isn’t dead, so buy into relaxed fits and stretch comfort styles.
Another trend born out of lockdown, millions across the globe turned to nature as an escape. Activities like hiking, climbing, surfing, orienteering and camping saw a huge surge in interest as a new way of life shifted consumer interests towards the great outdoors. From streetwear and luxury brands to mass-market, Gorpcore aesthetics infiltrated new arrivals. Even preppy brands like Ralph Lauren launched a collection inspired by fishing and fabrics like Polartec® and GORE-TEX were made accessible by fast fashion retailers.
With consumers looking to local travel and outdoor apparel’s historical success during recessions, this trend is a low-risk investment moving into 2021. For many regions, going for a hike outdoors is set to be one of the few options available to escape the home-centric lifestyle. So the demand for technical and utility clothing will inevitably be sustained.
Update successful silhouettes with technical fabrics and invest in versatile pieces like the fleece that also hold indoor appeal. Denim can be made relevant here as a durable and hard-wearing fabric – perfect for Gorpcore clothing. Sustainability and the outdoors go hand-in-hand, a good aesthetic to promote eco options under. Recycled polyester can integrate effortlessly into fleece tops and water-resistant outerwear options while maintaining affordable price points. Zara and Topman are already stocking tech pants to update the cargo. A more superficial form of the aesthetic should also be considered for shoppers looking to buy into the look without the need for performance. Earth tones, plaid shirting, mixed fabrics and functional detailing, like pockets and straps, are best utilized here.
The mini-me market has continued to expand throughout 2020, fueled by several significant celebrity collaborations and fast-fashion launches. Notable is, of course, the launch of Kim Kardashian West’s SKIMS brand, which saw expansion into childrenswear in November. Beauty mogul and half-sister Kylie had already launched a range of Stormi makeup kits for her daughter’s second birthday and continued to post the pair in matching outfits on her Instagram. Within retail, the launch of Fashion Nova‘s line for children marked an extension into fast-fashion mini-me offerings, a space until then occupied most significantly by e-commerce site SHEIN.
Monitoring the apparel choices of a range of celebrity children like Romeo Beckham, Stormi Jenner, Blue Ivy Carter and Princess Charlotte will ensure retailers with shorter lead times can be responsive to emerging trends. Alternatively, for retailers with consolidated assortments, planning merchandising stories that capitalize on similarities between adult and children’s loungewear ranges would be a wise direction for fall, as would consideration for the return of family holidays and celebrations that were previously missed.
An overarching appreciation for the outdoors will continue into 2021, presenting a new area for expansion – look to Zara’s recent IT RAINS collection for an example of a versatile aesthetic. Furthermore, a recent diversion into collections for siblings at Zara and Mango offered a fresh direction for retailers to explore making it possible other avenues could include gender-neutral “best friends” collections.
The explosion of video app TikTok has shaken up the beauty scene, giving way to a host of new Gen-Z influencers who share creative and fun beauty looks such as popular creator Abby Roberts. This generation is all about self-expression and creativity, favoring rising indie brands such as Freck and Milk Makeup that authentically speak to their passions and feature inclusive models. To elevate lockdown boredom, beauty influencers and consumers alike experimented with fun and creative beauty looks as a way of escapism. Pinterest found a 45% increase in searches for “inner eye color,” along with a six times YoY increase in searches for “butterfly eye makeup,” in line with the growing butterfly motif trend within apparel.
The majority of less traditional looks focus on the eyes, lending themselves well to mask makeup looks that retailers and brands can promote to their customers. Graphic liner looks were also popular during the Spring 2021 shows. In 2021, beauty brands and retailers would be remiss not to have a social presence on TikTok as a way for them to connect with a new audience and showcase a more playful side.
Retailers looking to attract Gen-Z customers should also stay ahead of the curve by stocking sought-after brands and engaging with their audience through user generated content (UGC). Keep an eye on rising apparel trends that could also take off in beauty. For example, the current penchant for chocolate brown hues has seamlessly transitioned to brown French tip nails, brunette hairstyles and bronzed eyeshadow looks.