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Insight Report

US Holiday 2018: Fashion Trends Supporting a Recovery in Apparel

Coresight Research

Key Points

We continue our US Holiday 2018 series with a review of key fashion trends supporting growth in the apparel market. These include:

  • Amplified colors.
  • The maximal trend: Gucci, Alice & Olivia, Zara.
  • The minimalist trend: Celine, The Row, Massimo Dutti, COS.
  • The blazer is back.
  • Americana is in full fashion force.
  • Fanny packs and crossbody fanny packs.
  • Collaborations, limited editions, archive-inspired products.

After years of lackluster apparel sales, new fashion trends along with a healthy consumer bode well for US fashion sales this holiday season. Self-gifting and gift-giving will drive purchases and Coresight Research expects the one-for-you-and-one-or-two-for-me phenomena to drive apparel and fashion accessories sales. The good news is while there are lots of fashion trends on Main Street, shoppers are personalizing, and there is no right and no wrong fashion. There is a plethora of fashion points of view in the marketplace. Fashion has become a reflection of one’s personality and self-expression.

Several trends we mentioned last year (Gucci, denim, ‘60s-inspired silhouettes) are still trending, but amplified with color and luxe fabrications, personalization and customization. Americana is a trend we have been observing and that is gaining traction across multiple channels and price points.

In our conversations with fashion executives, many spoke about a significant shift in fashion trends that may play out for as long as a decade. This “macro” fashion shift is a change in proportions and silhouette; versus a “micro” trend, which is more about fabrication and color and of seasonal/annual duration. The importance of a macro fashion change is that proportion involves changing one’s entire look, from accessories to tops through bottoms and outerwear. A new silhouette is evolving with a focus on the waist and that requires a closet refresh. Good news for the entire apparel ecosystem.

Coresight Research reviewed various US consumer surveys conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics in the 2004–2017 period to assess spending intentions for clothing and clothing accessories, heading into the holiday shopping period. The percentage of adults who planned to purchase apparel peaked at 63.5% in November 2006 and dropped to 57.2% the following year, when the Apple iPhone was introduced (June 29, 2007) and sucked all the fashion interest to consumer electronics (CE). Intentions to purchase apparel has yet to return to pre-Great Recession levels, though it reached 61.5% in November 2017 and Coresight Research believes this consumer metric will edge up higher this November.

Source: Monthly Consumer Survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics

Key Fashion Trends for Holiday 2018

1) Passionate Color. The fall fashion story that will extend through the holidays is one of color intensity. A bright and bold palette of jewel tones along with autumn hues makes fashion passionate and allows shoppers to express their individuality across the remaining trends excepting minimalism.

2) The Maximalism Trend: Gucci, Alice & Olivia, Zara. Excess, as articulated by Gucci, remains a top fashion trend heading into Holiday 2018. In our holiday outlook last year, we wrote that Gucci was hotter than ever before. We could underscore that comment today, however, according to The Business of Fashion, in a recent video to Gucci’s sales staff, CEO Marco Bizzarri commented that “we need to recognize the fact that at a certain point, we’re going to slow down, we cannot keep on growing 50,60 percent a month, it’s impossible.” That said, Gucci continues to impact retailers and brands across the pricing spectrum with diffusion products at Zara and H&M, and contemporary premium labels such as Alice & Olivia benefitting from this fashion zeitgeist.

Source: Gucci Soho NYC/Dries Van Noten

Source: Gucci/Alice & Olivia

For many, the holidays are packed with events, office parties and celebrations, and this year, Coresight Research expects the entire family to dress up. Luxe fabrications such as velvet, brocades and silks are reinterpreting casual attire such as sneakers and jeans, sweatshirts and hoodies, providing comfort and sizzle for today’s fashion and introducing a younger shopper to new textiles. Special occasion dressing as well as casual weekend wear made of luxe fabrics will brighten the holidays.

Metallics and animal prints are the new black, and core fashion must-haves. Cougar and leopard embellishment and embroidery, over the top florals and day-glo plaids are paired with sneakers adorned with pearls to make a Gucci-like outfit.

Source: Zara

Source: Steve Madden at at Barneys

3) The Minimalist Trend: Celine, The Row, Saint Laurent, Massimo Dutti and COS. At the other end of the spectrum, minimalism is going strong with understated elegance and sophistication. Cashmeres, leathers and silks in understated tones of white, beige and black, silver and gold are lush and demure simultaneously. For the holidays, a glimmer of sparkly sequins dresses up the laidback simplicity.

Source: Company websites

4) The Blazer is Back. The ‘80s blazer, replete with huge shoulder pads is back on the runway this year and has arrived at the stores in time for the holidays. Dress them up and dress them down, with silk or denim, a blazer is the go-to wardrobe piece that completes an outfit; truly a must-have this season!

Source: Saint Laurent/205W39NYC/Target

5) Americana: A Full-On Fashion Force. Cowboy boots, vintage-inspired dresses and folksy details on everything, that’s Americana according to whowhatwear’s Instagram’s posts. Stuart Vevers at Coach and Raf Simons at Calvin Klein have been channeling Americana in their own ways as well and Frye is Americana to its core.

Source: whowhatwear/Instagram/Coach/Frye

6) Collaborations, Limited Editions, Archive-Inspired Products. Special, unique and just for you, isn’t that the makings of a perfect gift? Increasingly, retailers and brands are using collaborations and limited editions to generate attention and demand. Levi’s X Justin Timberlake 14-piece Fresh Leaves collection just hit the stores (in the last week of September) and two items are already sold out. Inspired by Levi’s classics and interpreted for today by Justin Timberlake, Fresh Leaves is a great way to drive shoppers to the new Nordstrom Men’s Store in NYC and other Nordstrom locations, which have the exclusive collection along with Levi’s and their respective websites. Coach went back to the Bonnie Cashin archives (early 1960s) and revived her leather coat embellished with fringe and whipstitch details. Converse recently joined forces with Hello Kitty for the Converse X Hello Kitty collection of unisex sneakers for all ages.

Source: Company websites

7) Faux Fur That Really Fools; Or Not! Designers Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Armani have been anti-fur for decades, but the conversation hit a crescendo when Gucci chimed in last fall. Since then, Michael Kors (including Jimmy Choo), Burberrys, and Donna Karan have staked an anti-fur position. Millennials are driving Ethical Fashion adoption more broadly (San Francisco has banned the selling of fur beginning January 2019). However, it is worth noting that the composition of faux fur (petroleum-based plastic) is considered by many to be unsustainable; it is not biodegradable and is harmful to wildlife. Ethics or sustainability is the question, but consumers like the feeling of plush fur, faux or not. Today, it is hard to recognize which is which.

Source: Topshop/Theory

8) Fanny Packs and Crossbody Fanny Packs. Another reference to the 1980s is the fanny pack and today’s new twist on the silhouette, slightly larger and worn crossbody. Luxury designers and mid-market retailers alike will offer this trending accessory for shoppers this holiday.

Source: MZ Wallace/Coach

9) Denim is Fashionable Again and Comfortable. Mom jeans alongside skinny, cropped, or wide-leg and bootcut, denim is all about what works for you and is a way to create your own personal style. Denim jackets are trending too, with personalized customization that is worth a trip to the store. American Eagle’s Union Square, NYC Studio store recently offered hand-painted and applique for denim jackets.

Source: Valentino/Calvin Klein/Gap/ASOS

10) Outerwear Speaks Volumes! In addition to the faux fur already mentioned, puffer jackets and wool melton wrap coats are in vogue. Saks has an entire web section dedicated to statement outerwear. Moncler’s collection n◦4 of the Genius project has embroidered sequins and a floral design (below, middle) and imagines a woman who climbs the highest peaks without sacrificing her femininity.

Source: MaxMara/Moncler/Banana Republic

11) The Season Isn’t Complete Without “Ugly” Holiday Sweaters. A gift to give (and re-gift perhaps) and spread the fun. Last year Whoopi Goldberg debuted her own line of “odd” holiday sweaters available exclusively on Zappos, and the Christmas elves tell us the line should return in 2018.



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