Not all fashion retail was a wash during Spring/Summer 2020. Retailers and brands that were able to double down on digital and pivot their product assortments to meet the new demands of consumers as the result of COVID-19 fared better than those that remained stagnant.
A new report by retail data analytics company Edited named nine products that delivered sales during the buying season. During an uncertain time when purse strings were tightened and unemployment rates soared, having the right product was king and will remain as retailers work their way back to profitability.
Here’s a look at what’s selling.
Small yet essential, non-medical face masks are a new opportunity for fashion brands. “With over 50 countries around the world now requiring people to cover their faces when outside their homes, demand for face masks is surging globally,” Edited wrote.
As consumers adapt to wearing masks, they’re also experimenting with masks as a fashion accessory. Solid black masks make up the majority of assortments, but Edited’s data shows that June arrivals in pink, green, purple and yellow masks exceeded those in May. Meanwhile, investments in dot patterns increased 84 percent, floral patterns 22 percent and animal print 5 percent, month-over-month.
Moving forward, Edited urges retailers and brands to stock masks that coordinate with their fall assortments—be it masks in the same color family as new collections, or masks made with the same fabric. These, Edited noted, are prime add-on purchases.
The evolution of activewear as fashion, and the robust social media promotion for shapewear brands like Kim Kardashian West’s Skims are normalizing wearing second skin-garments. As consumers sought effortless and versatile staples to add to their existing wardrobe this summer, Edited said women turned to bodysuits to fill this demand.
The one-piece became a “viral success story” with the number of styles selling out rising 50 percent year-over-year. “The high replenishment rate of bodysuits, with 56 percent of styles restocked on June 30 compared to 39 percent a year ago, shows these items have become part of retailers’ core assortments with the same styles backed for next season,” Edited wrote.
Core basics in black and white made up the majority of bodysuit assortments, but data shows animals prints are a safe addition for future assortments. And though the garment has roots in intimate apparel, the current bodysuit trend isn’t about turning up sex appeal. In fact, Edited reported that lace options had an advertised average discount of 40 percent.
Shorts have a permanent place in spring and summer assortments, but the casual piece became part of the quarantine uniform in S/S ’20. The number of options selling out for men’s wear increased by 55 percent compared to last year, while women’s wear was up 52 percent, Edited reported.
Having never lost steam from the prior summer, women’s cycling shorts continued to trend upwards albeit with style updates like ribbed knit fabrications. Men’s shorts also took cues from sport. Sweat shorts made up the biggest proportion of men’s shorts assortments—a complete reversal from the preppy chino shorts that saw an upswing in 2019.
As brands tuned into consumer demand for easy, at-home fashion, Edited saw interest in coordinating sets for men spike this spring. While the trend traversed several fashion styles—from sport-influenced pieces to nostalgic-inspired designs—the most popular combinations this season included short-sleeve and short sets and jersey loungewear that Edited said evoked “both indoor and outdoor dressing.”
The trend has legs, too. “Retailers will be relieved to know it’s not too late to jump on this trend as matching sets will continue into 2021,” Edited wrote. Basketball-inspired sets (i.e. oversized T-shirts and drawstring shorts), sets with bold colors and patterns, and duos with ’70s embroidery or color-blocking motifs are on deck for fall.
Mock neck tops
Though mock neck tees and sweaters began to trickle into streetwear in 2019, the neckline gained ground in women’s wear during the pandemic, serving as an elevated way to update basic layering pieces. “It’s become a popular detail on tanks and bodysuits with the former seeing a 25 percent increase in sell outs compared to last year,” Edited wrote.
Look for mock neck tanks and tops to become part of fall’s knitwear buys.
Men’s polo shirts lived up to their reputation as a versatile basic. With remote work becoming the new norm, consumers sought the timeless top for both its casual and professional qualities. Polos, Edited reported, made up 12 percent of men’s sell outs for S/S ’20 compared to 10 percent in 2019.
While color played a key role on spring polo shirt purchases (pastels and neutrals saw the most buzz), Edited expects to see brands upgrade their polo shirt fabrications as consumers seek out better quality investment pieces.
Months-long shelter-in-place mandates and new work-from-home policies meant consumers could dress in any which way they wished. And the fun print of choice was tie-dye. Though the psychedelic print had a breakout season during S/S ’19, interest in tie-dye reached fever pitch during the lockdown, especially in the loungewear tops.
The second-highest tie-dye category selling out for men’s wear, Edited reported, was coordinating sets, while tie-dyed mini dresses and sweatpants resonated with female consumers.
Minimalist sandals like pool slides are becoming a bigger part of total footwear sales. Though the local park is the furthest point many consumers can escape to this summer, they’re reaching for sandals that they can easily kick on and off at home or in the grass.
Sandals made up 9 percent of overall men’s footwear sell outs compared to 4 percent in 2019, Edited said. In the women’s footwear category, sandal sell outs are currently 35 percent versus 32 percent in 2019.
Homes unexpectedly became sanctuaries during S/S ’20 and consumers wanted to dress the part. Enter pajamas, fluffy bathrobes, slippers and accessories like sleep masks. Sleepwear shifted into focus, Edited reported, with men’s sell outs growing 34 percent while women’s wear increased 50 percent.
In particular, pajamas that doubled as stylish sets featured prominently in retailers’ lockdown assortments.
While sales are shifting away from pajamas in recent weeks, Edited warns that a second wave of coronavirus infections in the U.S. may lead to more lockdowns and more PJs.