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Why Denim Sales May Fare Better During a Second Lockdown

Rivet's 2020 Denim Circularity report takes a deep dive into how the global denim industry is plotting its circular future amidst a worldwide pandemic.

Though there’s no crystal ball that can predict the future of fashion—especially in 2020—U.S. retailers can look to other countries for guidance on navigating an inevitable surge of Covid-19.

With various degrees of quarantine now in effect across Europe, ranging from a month-long lockdown in the U.K. to non-essential businesses in shuttered in France until at least Dec. 1,  retail market intelligence platform Edited expanded upon its initial report published in October highlighting the way retailers prepared for another round of stalled business.

Though store shutdowns deliver a particularly stinging blow to business right before the holiday season, retailers have the advantage of understanding what type of fashion quarantine consumers tend to purchase. And Australia, which recently emerged from its second lockdown, may serve as something of a blueprint for retail during a second wave.

Just prior to the second shutdowns, fashion retail was as close to business as normal as it could be during a pandemic. Consumer spending “normalized for the most part,” Edited reported, and denim along with trendy bodysuits and cold-weather accessories such as vests and hats, have globally delivered the most sell-outs over the past week.

A shift to comfort is looming,  however.

Unsurprisingly, Edited reported that during Australia’s second lockdown, work-appropriate fashion like blouses and button-down shirts took a backseat to items like T-shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts and cardigans, which made up a more significant proportion of retailers’ assortments compared to last year. Shorts were the bestselling bottom style, despite the winter season in Australia. Likewise, sandals such as easy slides and utility-inspired hiking sandals trended.

Retailers for the most part are prepared for this second comfort rush. Activewear and loungewear tops like hoodies and tanks remain top sellers in the U.S., while T-shirts continue to “prove their prowess with interest in basics at an all-time high,” Edited reported. Retailers in the U.K. and France, meanwhile, are favoring elevated loungewear items like sweaters and cardigans.

Wide-leg silhouettes are experiencing a higher proportion of sell-outs year-over-year across all regions, as well as skirts and the romanticized house dress, Edited stated.

And despite the global demand for comfort dressing, data shows that jeans made up a greater percentage of the sell-out assortment year-over-year across all markets except the U.S., where Edited stated that denim’s growth was “still outstripped by sweatpants.”

Beyond apparel, face masks are bound to see an uptick, too. Edited stated that sales are already starting to spike again ahead of a second outbreak and as regions such as the U.K. introduce new penalties to people who fail to cover up their noses and mouths.

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