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NPD: What to Expect for Fashion in 2017

As the new year kicks in and consumers refresh their wardrobes, the apparel industry faces familiar ground and unconventional competition.

NPD Group said 2017 fashion will favor familiar concepts, but ultimately shoppers will have the ball in their courts as individualistic demands rise. Today, fashion doesn’t define the consumer. The consumer defines fashion and the apparel industry may have to consider this concept to thrive in 2017.

“This year will be one full of change for fashion at retail – some is overdue, some is driven, but all of it is necessary,” NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen said. “Consumers are now creating their own looks, seeking apparel, footwear and accessories that fit into their lifestyle, not the other way around.”

Active and comfort will be the main drivers for fashion in 2017. Activewear apparel companies will target consumers’ lifestyles, while lifestyle brands will emphasize wellness in their merchandise. Pajamas will also become more mainstream this year, turning what was once deemed only for college students into an acceptable staple for weekend leisure.

Along with consumers’ desires for functionality and comfort, fashion will also gain an environmentally-friendly edge. Today, many shopper demographics, including millennials, demand information about garment sourcing and apparel supply chains. Consumers are expected to buy more clothing made from organic fibers and not synthetic materials. Furthermore, some organic fibers shield garments from odor, stains and water—which is highly favored by shoppers if they are going to be frequently wearing athleisure garments.

Cohen also spoke about how apparel will compete for consumers’ budgets as younger shoppers allocate more of their funds to other expenses.

“The apparel industry will struggle to remain a priority spend, competing for their share of wallet,” Cohen said. “But it’s not just technology, apparel will go up against intangible purchases too, as younger consumers seek and spend on services and experiences more than ever.”

Despite this shift in shopper spending, apparel retailers may want to hone in on valuable style pieces. In 2017, consumers aren’t looking for middle-ground purchases. Rather, they want to find that one apparel item that can elevate their date night or dress down their 9-to-5 outfit.

Although retail remains rocky, fashion will continue to cast its spell on the apparel industry and remain a catalyst for consumer activity in 2017.