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Will Leather Finally Make the Leap from Runway to Retail This Fall?

The fragmented re-opening of schools, businesses and public spaces in the U.S. means this fall will not look or feel like previous years, but with the unofficial start to the season a mere two weeks away, it’s time for brands and retailers to think about how consumers will want to renew their closets for cooler months ahead.

As the new season approaches, global fashion search platform Lyst has been monitoring the emerging trends that consumers are hunting for, comparing searches and sales of more than 27 million shoppers over the past three months.

The results (hopefully) bring good news to brands and retailers that have seen sales for fashion pieces fall flat during the pandemic.

Fall fashion

Consumers appear ready to be reintroduced to traditional fall garb and bring seasonal staples back into their wardrobe—especially leather.

Lyst reported that searches for leather apparel are up 31 percent since the start of August. Page views for wide-leg leather trousers, in particular, are up 19 percent week-on-week.

Leather began heating up the runway last year with designers like Bottega Veneta, Alberta Ferretti and Loewe introducing leather dresses, skirts and tops for both Fall/Winter 19-20 as well as more seasonal options like culottes, spaghetti-strap dresses and shorts for Spring/Summer ’20. In fact, the most-wanted leather item is Bermuda shorts, with searches rising 50 percent month-on-month.

Though fashion statements like leather looks took a backseat this year as the pandemic began to spread across the globe, all signs point to leather rebounding this fall. Demand for mini leather dresses, like the Ganni dress that incited searches during Copenhagen Fashion Week, is climbing.

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Leather coats are also emerging as a worthy investment piece as consumer prioritize long-lasting apparel purchases. The chameleon-like coat fits into ongoing retro ’70s trends as well as minimalistic or subversive looks from the ’90s. Searches for leather coats have increased by 20 percent over the past month, with the most-wanted brands being Saks Potts, Mackage, Nicole Benisti and Stand Studio, Lyst reported.

Timeless colors like black, blue and brown remain the most searched, but Lyst’s data shows colorful leather coat are on the rise, too. Searches for untraditional colors in leather coats have increased 18 percent since July, with styles by Miu Miu and Burberry the most sought after.

Fringed versions are also capturing the attention of style watchers. Demand for fringed leather jackets increased 29 percent since the beginning of August. In general, interest in fringed fashion is climbing. Searches for “fringed” increased 38 percent in the past month, with jackets, dresses and bags being the most-wanted categories, Lyst stated.

Another unexpected summer trend, the cardigan, is evolving for fall. The next knit-to-know is the classic sweater vest. Online searches for sweater vests, which tie back to an overall comeback of ’90s prep that includes tennis skirts and polo shirts, have increased by 133 percent since the beginning of the month, Lyst stated. The layering piece is equally popular among men and women shoppers.

Most-wanted styles, Lyst noted, include Eytys’s logo sweater vest, Acne’s off-white vest and Maison Margiela’s cropped wool vest.

In fact, this fall’s throwback style icon may be Chandler Bing from the sitcom “Friends.” Along with being a poster child for ’90s sweater vests, the character portrayed by Matthew Perry also rocked slouchy trousers, which Lyst said are gaining momentum.

Data shows that demand for wide-leg trousers as well as slouchy tailored trousers is up collectively 43 percent this month. And terms such as “oversized” and “loose-fitting” are currently more widely used in searches.

Consumers’ fondness for oversized fashion is carrying into collared tops for fall. Peter Pan collars are taking off again post-lockdown, as searches for “oversized collar” tops and dresses are rising, Lyst stated. Searches for the statement collars are up 46 percent collectively over the past month.

High collars are also trending, with page views for “high collar tops” increasing 11 percent over the past three months. White tops with bold collar details appear to be the most popular as consumers look to build versatile, multi-purpose pieces into their closets.

The decorative necklines, in general, are resonating with consumers who continue to dress with a waist-up approach for video conference calls. As such, square necklines are also leading online searches.

Searches for tops including the term “square neck” have increased 47 percent since the beginning of the year and are still rising, Lyst reported. Khaite’s $1,080 long-sleeve Maddy top, a bustier-style ribbed knit top, is currently amongst the most-wanted women’s wear products, with page views going up 14 percent this month.

Extra, extra

Accessories tell different narratives for fall.

As Black Lives Matter protests continue to assemble around the world and political tension remains high on nearly every continent, footwear with a rebellious spirit is being flung back into the spotlight.

Searches for combat and stomper boots—hallmarks of protest fashion—have increased 69 percent throughout the past month, Lyst reported. Demand for the style is increasing especially for men, where searches for the combat boots have increased by 99 percent in the past four weeks. Meanwhile, searches for women increased by 53 percent in the same period of time.

Prada’s combat boots, which feature a small pouch for essentials like cash or keys, appear to be the knockout winner in this trend, being the most-searched brand for both men and women. More commercial brands, Lyst noted, like Steve Madden, Frye and Dr. Martens stand to see gains in this arena as well.

Likewise, searches for loafers with aggressive outsoles are rising, up 10 percent since July. Currently, the most-searched-for men’s loafers are Dr. Marten’s brown chunky loafers.

Consumer demand for weighty details extends into handbags. According to Lyst, searches for chain bags increased 24 percent in July. “Thick chain” and “chunky chain” have become breakout terms with searches spiking respectively 83 percent and 45 percent in the last month.

Most-wanted styles include JW Anderson’s shoulder bag, Charles Keith’s handle mini bag, Marques Almeida’s leather chain bag and Stella McCartney’s rainbow chain bag.

Demand for “oversized” and “extra-large” tote bags, Lyst stated, has increased by 33 percent since July.