Featured Dec 13, 2017 5 min read

It’s a Wrap: The Biggest Trends of 2017

How many of the year's biggest trends did you buy into? And which were you blind-sided by? Read up on that Gucci t-shirt, the impact of the puffer jacket and why statement sleeves...

For many reasons, 2017 may go down in the history books as somewhat baffling.  Thankfully, one thing we don’t have to be confused about is the year’s biggest trends.

Data gives us a definitive answer. From the Gucci tee that broke Instagram, to the hottest sneaks in town – how many did you buy into?

These were the bestselling trends of 2017

1. That Gucci tee

Quite simply, Gucci owned 2017. In the last twelve months the brand, on its stellar trajectory, has influenced more than one trend on this list.  

However, the most direct trend the house spawned is its branded t-shirt.   Averaging $580, this isn’t a cheap piece of band merch and yet, you can barely take a scroll on Instagram without clocking the classic stripe and worn print of this winner.  

The original – white with logo and stripes – is from the Fall 2016 collection and was first introduced in October 2016. It was the ‘it’ item on editors attending February’s runway shows. Following that success came a collaboration with Coco Capitán, featuring the artists signature scrawls across the print. Next up Rihanna riffs the entire runway look at Coachella, and thus a trend is born.

Now there are tie dye, embellished and motif emblazoned versions across the luxury market. Matchesfashion.com has had 39 styles of the tee sell out this year and Neiman Marcus has replenished three times on the $180 kids’ version.   In all, 64% of the year’s arrivals have already sold out full price and just 4% have been discounted.  

But it’s not just the luxury market that’s won with Gucci’s original. The mass market picked up on the references and has been serving aces with its sell out budget versions.    

What will happen in 2018? Logomania has been picked up by more brands, with Versace, Loewe and Hilfiger all sending branded sweaters or tees onto their Spring 2018 runways. And don’t worry about Gucci – they’ll stay one step ahead layering up more embellishment to keep adding value.

2. Puffed up

They were already massive last year and then they went and got even bigger. In 2017, nearly 126,000 new puffer jackets arrived, representing 17% of all new coats. That’s a 23% increase on last year.  

The most-stocked brands of the year were Moncler, Herno and Burberry. The most successful brands (with the highest number of full price sell outs) were Moncler, Pretty Little Thing and Zara.  

With an average price point in the UK of $405 and in the US $467, you could take a guess that subtle versions would have sold best. However, that wasn’t the case – color was the leading story with this garment that saw a 42% increase in newsletter mentions compared to 2016.  

What will happen in 2018?  Consumers demand more functionality in their apparel than ever before. Super-warm outerwear will continue to be popular next winter, but with a growing consumer awareness of ethical concerns, there’ll be an increasing backlash against down and feather fills. Retailers like Uniqlo and Everlane who find tech-enhanced ways to avoid down will win in Fall 2018.

3. Embroidery

Let’s say the Gucci effect strikes again: floral embroidery has gone from twee to must-have, snaking its way over the shoulder of sweaters, across the front of leather bags and down the legs of jeans.

This one exploded on the market, with Spring 2017 up an incredible 188% from 2016. And it’s not just a summer look – embroidery is still blooming well into winter – up 94% from a year ago. The leading category for the trend this year was on tops.

What will happen in 2018? If Gucci lead by example, then it looks as though embroidery will continue into the new year. On Spring 2018 runways, embroidery took a high-octane eighties turn, with more animal motifs, stars and emblems. Embroidery is a fantastic way for the luxury market to differentiate itself in a very crowded market. The more complicated it gets, the less copied it can be.

4. Sleeves with attitude

If 2016 was all about the cold-shoulder and the Bardot, 2017 got a whole lot braver and pattern cutters of the industry got challenged. This year has seen sleeve shapes celebrated flamboyantly – from tiered, to bishop, to balloon and mameluke, consumers and retailers alike are getting to know the unfamiliar.

In numbers, flared sleeves have been the most-used, bishops sleeves the most discounted and structured sleeves the most expensive!

What will happen in 2018? The drama isn’t going anywhere – the 80s are set to be a major influence, as seen from the start of this season.

5. Ruffled

Yes another, ‘big in 2016, bigger in 2017’. Silhouette adjustments like this take a bit of warming up to but once the consumer is into it, it’s sticking. Case in point: skinny jeans, at first ridiculed, but hung on for a while.  

New arrivals of ruffled items were up 176% this year from last. Revolve, ASOS and Nordstrom were the retailers who invested most, while Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Zimmermann were the luxury brands with the highest number of ruffled styles.

What will happen in 2018? Just as many ruffles, but in softer, more sheer fabrics.

6. Feminist Slogans

It’s been a big year for gender. Many thousands took part in the women’s marches, amping up conversation around reproductive rights and gender equality.

Then came wave after wave of harassment revelations in the entertainment, hospitality and political worlds with the collective #metoo campaign that finally gave women a safe space to share their experiences. And now we close the year with the announcement that trans people will be able to sign up for the US military from January 2018.  

Commercially it doesn’t take much to connect the dots between that, and the slogan t-shirts that have been selling out across the mass market. From the $409 ‘feminist’ Lingua Franca sweater to the $3.09 ‘feminist’ tote at Forever 21 – the message is loud and clear.  

What will happen in 2018? As long as the political climate remains fraught and social media remains a safe and open space to speak up about injustice, this trend should roll on.

Brands and retailers need to think carefully about how to approach it. Gen Z and millennial consumers aren’t going to be lured by empty statements if they feel it’s an authentic representation of the brand. What matters most to your organization and your shoppers? And do your business’ actions speak to that?

7. Super sneaks

Last year was all about the luxury sneaker, when so many brands started creating athletic shapes with added embellishment. While the luxury market is definitely still in on the sneaker game (we’re looking at you, Balenciaga sock sneaker), this year sports brands have owned more of the conversation.  

They’ve done that with re-releases, new tech and collaborations.   Some of the hits have been: Nike Air Force 1, Nike Air Jordan, Adidas x Alexander Wang, Nike x Off White, Vans x The North Face.

But the winner? It’s the twenty year re-release of the Air Max 97 that retailers can’t keep in stock long enough. In the last 12 months, not a single pair has been discounted, and they sell out in an average of 30 days.  

As we close out on 2017, how are things looking for your 2018? Stay one step ahead of the next trends with real-time data analytics. Next week, we’ll be looking at the hot new trends for 2018. Sign up to our Insider Briefing newsletter and you’ll hear about them first.  

EDITED subscribers can log in today for access to our Fall 2017 top mover reports, across every market and category, with new updates each week.  

The 7 best trends of 2017. How many did you buy into?