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Trends in Puffer Coats Mirror Demand for Basic-Yet-Better Fashion

The buying trends for Fall/Winter 20-21 puffer coats are following the same course as ready to wear and loungewear: basic, minimal and sustainable.

As a garment that lends itself well to recycled materials, the puffer coat reclaims its role this season as a key product category in sustainable fashion. “Basics and denim are where we expect to see investments, but recycled and eco puffers have grown a massive 761 percent in arrivals comparing this fall to 2019,” reported Edited, the retail market intelligence platform, in a new data-informed update.

As consumer awareness about fashion’s impact on the environment grows, brands are fine-tuning their messaging about their sustainable puffers. Rather than highlight the coats’ lightweight and warm properties, Edited said brands like Cos, Gap, Topman and Uniqlo are underscoring their use of recycled polyester and recycled down.

Heritage brand Tommy Hilfiger, which rolled out a set of 24 targets centered around circularity in August, touts its F/W 20-21 puffers made with 100 percent recycled PET plastic insulation with the same zeal as its traditional tartan, fleece and flannel.

Though puffer coats have fared well in prior seasons thanks to an infusion of streetwear and sport—think bright orange and lime green, rubberized trims and reflective properties—data from Edited alludes to a more low-key aesthetic for the F/W 20-21 staple piece.

Neutrals proved successful throughout the year across a range of categories. In line with this demand for versatile basics, which began to pick up momentum at the start of the pandemic, data shows that the amount of men’s neutral-hued puffers in the market is up 7 percent year-over-year, while neutral styles for women are up 8 percent.

Shades of tan and gray show the most promise for future assortments, but neutral-based prints like camouflage may appeal to a younger customer. Unique stitching, side slits and hoods update puffer coats, but like the color options, Edited pointed out that details generally follow the trend for minimalist designs.

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Perhaps a reason why versatile colors and simple designs are trending is that consumers consider puffer coats an investment piece. The average arrival price for a women’s puffer is $107.70; men’s is $115.44, Edited reported.

While puffer arrivals have declined year-over-year, Edited said replenishment rates are up as retailers offer fewer trends and focus on high-demand products. Neutral puffer coats have a 22 percent restock rate so far for fall; black puffers have a 23 percent restock rate.

Styling, however, plays a key role in how consumers perceive the value of puffers. Quilted styles are seeing traction as well as packable options and luxe fabric effects like leather and suede. “These are high ticket trends to take into next fall that can demand a higher price point,” Edited stated.

This shift from fashion to neutrals is also reflected in how brands are showcasing their puffer coats. Arket and J.Crew have stepped away from their usual joyful collections and campaigns to focus on puffer coats with quilted tonal and heritage designs. Brands like Reiss are also pairing puffers with relevant items in their campaigns, like loungewear versus work-ready ensembles.

Meanwhile, H&M “switched from a youthful streetwear story to showcase its men’s padded vests to an outdoorsy aesthetic, tapping into current hype around re-connecting with nature,” Edited stated.

This classic outdoor look is driving up the demand for another warm-wearing essential: the puffer vest.

Previously a hallmark of the “finance bro” trope, Edited said, vests have picked up cachet with style watchers this season, thanks in part to celebrities like Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish donning the piece.

The market has responded to the shift in attitude with a 66 percent increase in puffer vest arrivals, according to Edited. BoohooMan leads in men’s vests arrivals, while Zara has helped shed the topper’s “uncool” associations by elevating vests with embellishments and reversible styles.

Compared to last year, Edited said lighter fills and a variety of stitching show the most potential. “Consider designing into reversible solid-to-pattern styles and removable or packable hoods in [F/W 20-21] for versatility throughout the year,” the firm stated.