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Escapism Continues to Influence Consumers’ Fashion Purchases

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The return to office attire remains on ice as escapist fashion continues to gain traction.

Cottagecore, the pandemic fashion genre defined by nostalgic floral prints, flowy fabrics and ’70s-inspired denim, is steadily growing in popularity despite society’s return to socialization.

The trend, which was accelerated as consumers focused on nature and sustainability in 2020, is “here to stay,” according to Trendalytics’ July 2021 Top Trends report. The product intelligence company called out key trending pieces like house dresses, mushroom earrings, paisley dresses and flared jeans, the latter of which are up 122 percent year-over-year (YoY).

The trend is also reflected in the Lyst Index Q2 2021, which named Rodarte’s saccharine, cottagecore-esque daisy-print dress its No. 10 hottest item. The piece, photographed on Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez, features puffed sleeves, a romantic neckline and a soft pink and green palette that nods to the ongoing influence of the Netflix series “Bridgerton.”

Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez in Rodarte's daisy-print dress

Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez in Rodarte’s daisy-print dress

Pop culture continues to play a role in fashion, with the “Gossip Girl” reboot taking center stage. Trendalytics reported that preppy styles such as button-down shirts, heeled loafers, tennis skirts and oversized blazers—all photographed in a promotional image for the show—are major trends to watch.

The aesthetic has been on trend forecasters’ radar for some time now, as Edited reported back in April that styles such as sweater vests, straight-leg trousers, “Clueless”-inspired miniskirts, and varsity prints were on track for Fall 2021. The look gets a modern update by merging with streetwear to become “prep leisure,” which features fabrics like denim, cable knit, leather and lightweight wools.

The trend is making its way into children’s wear as well. Trendalytics reported that prep-school-inspired styles are on the rise for kids, with polos (up 66 percent YoY), rugby shirts (up 106 percent YoY) and oxford shirts (up 72 percent YoY) some of the main styles to watch.

But while consumers are continuing to embrace escapism and binge their favorite TV shows, they’re not necessarily doing so in their sweats. The report showed that searches for women’s tie dye sweatshirts—a pandemic staple—are down 74 percent, and boys and girls sweatpants are down 42 percent and 49 percent, respectively. Similarly, women’s “cozy jeans” are down 72 percent, as are men’s pajama robes, down 34 percent.

Denim in demand

When it comes to denim, loose, functional fits dominate both men’s and women’s categories. Trendalytics reports increases in women’s cargo jeans and ’90s-inspired puddle jeans—defined by their relaxed wide-leg silhouette and oversized fit that creates a “puddle” at the ankle—and barrel jeans—defined by cropped legs that taper at the ankle. Hem lines are getting cleaner and pushing out cuffed jeans and ripped denim shorts.

Similarly, men’s athletic fit and straight leg jeans are up 122 percent and 89 percent, respectively. Children’s wear is also continuing its focus on comfort, with girls’ baggy jeans up 65 percent and boys’ skinny jeans down 23 percent.

The shift to genderless fashion presented on the Spring 2022 men’s runway is encouraging men to experiment with bolder fashion. Shorter inseams and brighter colors are trends to watch, with searches for 5-inch shorts up 63 percent and men’s purple jeans up 22 percent. On the other hand, patchwork denim jackets and bleached jeans are down 54 percent and 74 percent, respectively.

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