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Featured Sep 15, 2020 8 min read

A market read of the hottest fall fashion trends

Unearthing what retailers are investing in this season all backed by market intelligence.

fall fashion trends

You can’t predict the weather or the outcome of a global pandemic – two factors shaping the fall 2020 selling season’s performance. Fortunately, market intelligence makes trading in the current climate easier by supporting your decision making on new season trends, minimizing risk and allowing your business to be as reactive as possible. 

We’re giving retailers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the strongest products and trends in fall 2020 assortments confirmed by EDITED data. Call it a sanity checker for your category to make any necessary adjustments to orders or use spare OTB to jump onto these red hot items before the leaves turn brown!

Now that you know what’s trending, find out how to competitively price your assortment using the world’s largest retail data set. Get in touch for a demo. 

How have assortments shifted? 

The first thing to note is the effect of COVID-19 on newness, a central theme throughout 2020. Since July, products arriving online for menswear have declined by 5% and 10% for womenswear YoY, causing a shift in assortments also reflective of changing consumer needs. 

Tops dominated menswear assortments as remote working and Zoom dressing remain front-of-mind. Retailers milked the success of loungewear, putting greater emphasis on delivering hoodies this year. Product sets and co-ords, which were a best-seller over summer, transitioned into tracksuit sets, growing the category from 3% of menswear last year to 4.5%. Unsurprisingly, suiting and tailoring fell down to 14% YoY as office dress codes relaxed and formal events were put on pause. 

During the pandemic’s peak, the bottoms category declined as dressing from the waist up was spotlighted. However, it is now outpacing 2019 deliveries with comfort at the fore where investments in jeans have dropped 8% YoY. Another category seeing a decline in newness is footwear with arrivals of boots halving YoY. 

fall fashion trends

Fall 2020 womenswear deliveries show a similar pattern with the proportion of tops holding YoY. Cardigans and hoodies made up a higher proportion of the mix than last fall, while blouses fell 28%, reflecting the new era of workwear dressing.

Retailers are also buying more womenswear bottoms styles with sweatpants continuing to dominate, equaling 13% of its parent category arrivals vs. 6% last year. 

Investment in accessories took a noticeable downturn with consumers spending more time indoors. Last fall, the category made up 15% of arrivals, while it’s 11% this year as retailers tighten their buys on jewelry, handbags and belts. 

fall fashion trends

The colors to know

For men, blues and greys are the top fall colorways similar to last year. Green was prioritized this year over last year’s influx of navy, while the Yeezy effect aided neutrals‘ growth. Unseasonably, pink made up 5.2% of arrivals and purple 4% – both were invested in more than last year as seasonality continues to blur and pastels become more commonplace in menswear. Retailers moved away from backing red with the hue dropping from 6.5% of arrivals to 4%. 

Neutrals were the top hue invested in womenswear, a shade that will continue to command future assortments after its strong presence in the recent Pre-Spring shows. Blue shades were coveted while greens overtook last year’s greys for the third-most invested color. Brights and pastels were also noted in early fall deliveries with pink at 11% and purples 6% of total assortments. Lending itself to the viral Dark Academia trend (covered below) and a staple fall hue, browns made up 10% of new arrivals.

fall fashion trends

Workleisure 

COVID-19 has overhauled traditional office attire. With working-from-home the new norm, the category of workleisure was born, morphing workwear and athleisure together. As tailoring and suiting declined, retailers are landing unstructured blazers, oversized shirts and polos in smart and casual fabrics. 

This new office dress code is resonating with consumers who are remote working and favoring products that can be quickly thrown on to emulate office dress codes with minimal fuss and maximum comfort. Across both menswear and womenswear, drawstring trousers arriving new for fall 2020 have seen a 160% increase in majority SKU sellouts YoY. While sellouts in jumpsuits, the perfect 30-second outfit, are up 16%. 

Dark Academia 

Cottagecore was great for summer, but Dark Academia is the new subculture consumers are drawing from for fall inspiration. Built around New England private school nostalgia, the romanticizing of academia reveals a yearning to return to studies with the cohort opting to dress in a style that keeps them connected and creates familiarity during uncertain circumstances. The style is preppy with a gothic twist. Rich autumnal and earthy hues complement traditional fall color schemes, while check prints are starting to surge in arrivals across both men’s and womenswear. 

fall fashion trends

Several key fall pieces can be merchandised under the Dark Academia theme, making it a versatile story to promote. For womenswear, this look can be created through chunky knit cardigans, turtlenecks, oversized collars and pinafores. For menswear, opt for varsity cardigans, cable-knit sweaters and pea coats. This theme is an easy way to push fall footwear and accessories – think satchels bags, plaid scarves and loafers. 

For the full breakdown of this trend, read our Dark Academia starter pack.

Utility

Continuing the theme of comfort and functionality, utility looks for menswear have been a prominent story in retailers’ communications throughout lockdown, evolving into new season buys. This trend continues to thrive from the success of streetwear, which influences its technical details as well as neutral and color blocking stories. Cargo trousers, a staple item, have increased for fall by 32% YoY with the sweatpant versions an important update to tick off the box for loungewear. Overshirts are hailed as the next biggest silhouette, slotting into workleisure stories.

Loungewear

Showing no signs of slowing, loungewear reigns as the most popular trend for fall 2020 and beyond. With consumers willing to pay a premium for this category, retailers are experimenting with more luxe fabrics for fall with the likes of COS dropping pieces using recycled cashmere. 

Loungewear items have been elevated to be worn both indoors and out with many pieces, i.e. oversized shirts and elasticated bottoms, straddling the workleisure trend. Seamless apparel continues to grow in this space, serving categories outside activewear. At the same time, knitted co-ords consisting of mock necks, oversized turtlenecks and midi-length skirts provide a dressier alternative to sweatpants. Inspired by Taylor Swift’s recent music video and Harry Styles’ TikTok revolution, cardigans will continue to be a standout style for both menswear and womenswear.

Leather looks

Comfort fabrics may be at the heart of fall 2020 as loungewear’s prowess continues. However, savvy retailers know they have to navigate the balance between proven styles and trend-led products if they want an assortment that feels inspiring to shop for, making it vital to venture outside of their comfort zone. Retailers are differentiating from cozy sweats spotlighting leather as a trending fabric with skirts as the most-invested in apparel category for womenswear and outerwear for men. 

With the outbreak of coronavirus starting at a live trade market, consumers will further question their consumption of animal products, creating additional demand for vegan and eco-friendly alternatives. Currently, 37% of womenswear fall 2020 leather styles are vegan compared to 12% for menswear, highlighting an opportunity to cater to this demographic who are opting for an animal-free lifestyle. 

Top footwear styles

With footwear buys contracting for fall, market intelligence is especially crucial for retailers to ensure they’re investing in the strongest styles. Chunky lug sole boots, an influencer favorite, are a standout shape and heavily backed by designers during Fall 2020 runway shows. Lending itself to the utility trend, combat and hiker styles with technical details, including front-zips and elastic side panels, have been interpreted in the mass market.

The slipper’s success over lockdown has paved the way for loafers to enter the mainstream, elevating loungewear and comfort dressing in both menswear and womenswear buys. Combined with the rise of Dark Academia, this traditional workwear style has been given a modern update with chunky soles and chain details.   

Interest in running has emerged during the pandemic as consumers look for inexpensive, social-distanced ways to keep active. Fused with fashion’s never-ending obsession with nostalgia, fall sneakers have been influenced by retro running stylings such as side stripes, color-blocking and perforated leather. 

How to take the house dress into fall  

Its presence on the recent Pre-Spring 2021 runways have already confirmed the house dress as a core trend for future spring assortments, but the style doesn’t need to hibernate until then. Modest midi and maxi styles are touted as the ‘it’ dress shape and a roomy silhouette makes it relevant for comfort dressing stories. Look to update in fall hues with thicker, more luxe fabrics like jacquard, velvets and satins. In the lead up to festive season, sheer and ruffled details refresh the style as a partywear staple. 

Reactivity is key to survival in this new era of retail and market intelligence gives you the power to monitor these trends in real time, giving you the edge over your competitors. 

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