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Trend Aug 19, 2020 5 min read

Why seamless clothing isn’t just for activewear

Seamless knit arrivals are up 22% YoY, but what are the factors contributing to this?

seamless clothing

Comfy clothes have become a wardrobe staple this year, giving seamless and seam-free products their moment too.

An increasingly popular production technique, in this report we delve into the data behind seamless knits – highlighting areas of opportunity, pricing analysis and successful products.

Looking to tap into this market? Reach out to a retail expert today to see a demo of how EDITED data can help.

A rising trend

Seamless has been on an upward trajectory, seeing its first marked increase in 2018 with email mentions surging by 177%. However, COVID has negatively impacted this year’s intake in a big way with orders delayed and canceled. In spite of this, seamless arrivals were up by 22% YoY. This rise was largely attributing to the UK, where retailers such as H&M, Gymshark and boohoo upped their investment significantly.

Influential factors for this growth include:

• The comfort trend – seamless knits offer movability and flexibility with its anti-chafing design.

• Lower lead times – the technology used cuts down on production processes without the need to cut and sew.

• The KKW effect – the launch of SKIMS in late 2019 has helped propel this aesthetic.

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What’s in stock?

Not just for activewear

Although activewear has been one of the most promoted categories for this knit, underwear emerges as the top backed category by far when looking at products in stock. Gap, H&M, Uniqlo and Debenhams have all recently promoted seamless underwear lines, highlighting comfort properties and no VPL. The lounge bra has become a key lingerie trend, especially with consumers spending the bulk of their time at home. Most recently, Nasty Gal introduced a seamless lounge range on July 24th. Elsewhere, UNIQLO is retailing 3D seamless knitted sweaters, while bodysuits have also been widely invested in for 2020.

Assortments are shifting

In the UK, tops and bottoms have snatched a portion of the underwear marketshare. Underwear in stock was -7% in 2020 compared to the same date analyzed last year, with tops +2% and bottoms +3%. In the US, underwear is also down slightly, with tops +1% and all-in-ones +2% YoY. The latter category has seen increased investment from Abercrombie & Fitch and Forever 21.

Is seamless more expensive?

Generally, yes.

• Analyzing five key categories, our tables below compare the price of seamless vs. non-seamless products.

• In the UK, higher price tags are found across all categories when it comes to seamless. This is thanks to its newfound trend status and the continued demand for lounge and activewear in the UK market, fueled by quarantine and the wellness trend.

• In the US, it’s only leggings and bodysuits that emerge as more costly. While the latter boasts trend appeal, in the case of leggings this highlights that consumers are willing to spend more on an item that offers durability and ease of movement.

• In fact, leggings see the greatest difference in price when compared with non-seamless across both regions, costing 16% more in the US and 29% more in the UK, on average.

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Top moving trends

Brands to know

SKIMS

Launched in September 2019, the popularity of SKIMS revolutionized the shapewear industry and generated buzz around seamless silhouettes. Collections continue to sell out at a rapid rate, thanks not only to the Kardashian’s social media clout but also its wide range of skin tones and dress sizes. Regular fabric updates maintain interest, the most recent being a breathable mesh collection.

Zara’s Contour Collection

Zara released its Limitless Contour Collection in January, followed by several further drops from late April to July. All bodysuits from the first collection sold out without discount, with its halter neck style going viral. The proceeding drops have seen continued success, thanks to trend-led cuts and colors, such as bike shorts and pastel hues. Pricing also plays a key role, with the bulk of items coming in under $20/£20.

MISBHV

Popular among celebrities like Rihanna and Kylie Jenner, the Polish clothing label’s signature aesthetic rose to international acclaim upon its first collaboration with Kith for Fall 2018. A second iteration hit the runway for Fall 2019, featuring bright engineered knits and bold branding. Co-ord sets with two-tone detailing defines the pair’s seamless look, which has gone on to spawn many mass market lookalikes.

Future direction

Face masks

Already stocked by SKIMS and Victoria’s Secret PINK, seamless is an ideal update to your mask assortment, offering durability and comfort. Make use of this knit’s short lead time and act now.

Primary colors

A key trend to emerge for pre-spring, primary colors are the perfect palette update. Invest in bold red, yellow and blue, or experiment with color-blocking.

Swimwear

Already proving extremely successful within the underwear category, the obvious next stop for seamless is swim. ROMWE and UNIQLO are already backing this trend.

Loungewear

Pre-Spring collections offered a strong update for retailers’ loungewear assortments – the knitted co-ord. Seamless sets are a natural fit – an opportunity Nasty Gal is already acting on.

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