The Spring/Summer ’22 buying season has commenced, but the usual themes and trends that populate warm weather collections will be filtered through a post-pandemic mindset that craves joy, nature and a digital detox.
In a recent webinar hosted by WGSN and Informa Markets, experts outlined the consumer drivers that will influence the next season of buys. As a season ruled by self-expression, Noah Zagor, WGSN senior North America men’s wear strategist, said men feel more comfortable in their own skin and style. The resulting looks, he said, skew loud and bright, as well as personal and akin to a spiritual awakening. But all are expressions of excitement for what’s to come.
“We’ve been talking a lot about how things are challenging and how do we respond to the pandemic in it,” he said. “Now we’re talking about what’s going to happen as we emerge from it.”
Here’s a look at the six emerging consumer profiles retailers should be prepared to dress.
For several seasons, outdoor technical gear—from waterproof to breathable materials—has stemmed from consumers’ desire to combat the elements. The notion of nature, however, is becoming softer and more mindful. “There’s going to be a subtle shift and that’s going to be more about embracing nature and living within it,” he said.
Organic prints and details, and fabrics that feel closer to being handmade than the product of technology will thrive.
Smart Comfort Seeker
“This is the guy who really got used to being very comfortable during the pandemic and now has to return to the world but doesn’t want to sacrifice what he’s grown used to,” Zagor said.
Dress pants with an elastic waist, looser fits and relaxed tailoring merge comfort with a smarter dress aesthetic.
“Men who’d never cared about getting dressed, aren’t going to suddenly start caring about getting dressed now that the pandemic is over, but they will want to maintain that comfort, whereas guys who like to get dressed really want to get dressed now because there’s a reason to celebrate and wear the things have been locked in the closet for a year,” he said.
Resort wear has grown in importance in men’s fashion, but less so as a seasonal category. Rather, resort is the defining factor of a lot of styles in men’s wear, Zagor said. Bold loud prints, colors, tropical and upbeat matching sets capture this “bigger than life” mood.
“Both at the directional catwalk level and at retail, prep has been such a driving force within the men’s market,” Zagor said. What feels fresh, though, is how Gen Z is subverting classic nostalgic ideas around affluence and comfortable living.
Cable-knit sweaters, color-block sailing prints, polo shirts and rugby shirts live here, and there’s a “retro tinge” emerging to the look. Miami Vice-like pastels are merging with ’90s country club vibe mixed in with some of the more collegiate and academic preppy tropes. “Nostalgia is a form of comfort,” he said. “It’s safety in the familiar.”
The continuation of the tie-dye and ’60s patchwork and craft resonate with this festival-going consumer. This “hippie with a nod to ’90s rave” aesthetic underscores how a single anachronistic point of view doesn’t exist. Rather, it’s a celebration of this type of lifestyle, Zagor said.
While neon colors and handmade details can appeal to a mature audience, he said there’s greater opportunity here for the next iteration of the festival market. “We need to start thinking about how to dress the younger generation for [festivals] and this is a great way to look into that,” he added.
Similar to “Urban Gardener,” Zagor said this consumer shift is a response to the hyper technical gear filtering into fashion. “We’re looking at clothing that doesn’t scream high tech, but it’s actually stripped down, minimal and hides its technology,” he said.
Within these simplistic-looking garments, wearers can find antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as sweat-wicking, breathability and weather-resistant attributes.