No data or trend forecasting firm could have predicted the twists and turns that fashion has experienced in 2020. And the rollercoaster ride is far from over.
From broken supply chains to unkept fashion calendars, the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a new set of challenges for the fashion industry as well as a host of new consumer habits and tastes that will linger. A recent report by retail data analytics company Edited outlines five fashion trends that will shape the second half of the year as lockdown restrictions loosen, stores begin to reopen and consumers seek some semblance of normal life.
Though pandemic trends like loungewear and “Zoom dressing” are not going away, there are new opportunities that fashion brands and retailers can capitalize on as businesses begin their road to recovery.
Time and time again, fashion revisits iconic styles from prior decades.
Designers, particularly those in denim, have been tapping the ’70s well hard for several seasons by incorporating flare jeans, patchwork denim and denim jumpsuits into collections. The decade is a strong luxury trend, too, with labels line Celine and Marc Jacobs bringing the era to life on their F/W 21-22 runways.
References from the ’70s, however, may take on greater significance. “In the ’70s, we saw a big shift in politics and culture—drawing parallels with the current climate,” Edited stated. Nostalgic fashion, the report noted, “can be used as a form of escapism as consumers face global issues including the pandemic, recession and civil unrest.”
Look for earth tones, platform shoes and more denim to dominate women’s fashions.
Meanwhile, the ’90s is a starting point for men’s fashion. Throwback track suits, polo shirts and color-blocked garments—trends connected to Michael Jordan’s newfound fame as a style influencer—are bound to pick up momentum, Edited stated.
These sporty styles will also resonate with consumers who are eager for professional sports to resume, even if it means they are watching games from the comfort of their home.
Face masks, perhaps the most consumer-friendly personal protective equipment (PPE), are a part of the new reality for the Western world. “As lockdown measures ease and hygiene remains front of mind, this category has become an area of investment in the post-coronavirus world,” Edited wrote.
While initial PPE efforts by brands focused on creating equipment for front line workers, brands may want to permanently carve out a portion of their production for the category—especially as consumers begin to build out their mask wardrobe.
Opportunities, Edited noted, include masks made with antibacterial fabrics, colorful and printed masks for children, masks with licensed designs and masks for future festival seasons.
Less is more
The economic outlook in a post-coronavirus world is uncertain, but the Great Recession is a reminder of what fashion looks like during hard times. Minimal designs, “normcore” basics and timeless or heritage brands entered the fray in 2008.
While millennials never shed some of those buying habits, Edited forecasts a new emphasis on minimalism in 2020 and beyond.
“Less reliant on flash-in-the-pan trends, minimalism complements sustainability through the purchasing of timeless investment pieces,” Edited stated. “As customers may have less disposable income, look to offer classic staples with longevity such as well-cut blazers, slip dresses, quality tees and high-waisted jeans.”
With virtually no open clothing stores and budgets tighter, quarantine forced consumers to accept the at-home wardrobes they had prior to the pandemic. Brands, however, can capitalize on those consumers who are ready to upgrade their home style.
Comfortable fabrics and casual dressing will gain importance, Edited said, especially as new protocols are put in place that will require employees to work from home even after the pandemic subsides. “Additionally, the high levels of unemployment post-COVID will see consumers spending less money and more time at home, contributing to the rise of the ‘homewear’ wardrobe,” Edited stated.
For women, consider washable fabrics, luxury pajamas, soft bras and house shoes. For men, Edited said products should be made with lightweight fabrics like linen or organic cotton and focus on familiar pieces like knitted polos, short-sleeve shirts and short sets, an elevated alternative to sweats.
Fashion has always been a canvas for social and political statements. Most recently, the #MeToo movement ushered in a trend for power dressing, the color red and T-shirts emblazoned with feminist statements, and shone a spotlight on female CEOs and creatives.
Consumers, Edited said, will be even more alert to how businesses are treating their workers in the wake of the pandemic and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.
Described by Edited as the “kindness economy,” brands and retailers can expect consumers to base their purchasing decisions on qualities like authenticity, transparency and how companies plan to contribute to positive change.