We are able to't put on sweatpants without end – what are we purchasing for subsequent?


Image source: Getty / Raimonda Kulikauskiene
You probably remember that scene in The devil Wears Pradawhere Miranda Priestly coolly trains Andy Sachs in the trend cycle. You know, the one who made "cerulean" blue famous: "What you don't know is that this sweater isn't just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean." She says and casually looks at Andy. "They are also blindly ignorant of the fact that Oscar de la Renta made a collection of Cerulean dresses in 2002. And then it was Yves St. Laurent who showed off Cerulean military jackets? And then Cerulean quickly dived in the collections of eight different designers. Then it seeped through the department stores and then trickled into a tragic "casual corner" where you undoubtedly fished it out of a trash can. "

In this way, a very select group of fashion elite designs essentially an entire season of our clothing. But what if 2020 turned the script around? What if buyers like Andy Sachs influenced the collections? With large retailers reducing shutter stores and designer presentations and opting for portability (and a lot of loungewear), even Miranda Priestly would have to agree that the idea isn't that far-fetched.

Shop? During a pandemic?

It was a pretty strange reality: seeing the obvious COVID-19 threat first, then staying home, and then staying home with no end in sight. Along with the many other changes in our sense of normalcy, our dress code and our relationship with fashion have also changed dramatically.

Emily Holt, former Fashion The editor and owner of the popular Hero Shop in the Bay Area felt the changes immediately – and not only because she had spent the summer viewing and buying collections on Zoom. On the customer side and in their stores, as expected, there has been a monumental shift in customer needs and an initial gap between those needs and what the store could offer. "The things that were in the store were things that were bought before COVID. People walked in and saw what we had and asked, 'Where should I wear this?' And it's like: "Look, I don't know. I didn't know this was happening. When I bought this, I thought you were going to a wedding, but you aren't. "So much of what was in the store didn't reflect our new reality because it was bought before it all," said Emily, when we chatted over the phone this summer. That experience was shared by Pauline Montupe, owner of the San Francisco boutique shop Le Point, who agreed: "The idea of ​​buying a dress for a date night or a nice top for work is no longer true."

"… that's what people are looking for. Optimism and comfort and things to wear around the clock."

Both Emily and Pauline, with in-depth knowledge of their customers, set out to give their respective stores pandemic make-unders based on what was being sold. For Emily it started with a very specific piece: "What was interesting was the success of our Elder Statesman's sweaters," she said. "They're not cheap. They're really good quality, very soft, very upbeat, upbeat cashmere sweaters. And the fact that they sell so well means that people are looking for them. Optimism and comfort and things that they can wear 24/7. ”Likewise, Pauline went to work and stocked up in response to her buyers. "In the first few months, we immediately saw an increase in all of our non-apparels – things like candles, skin care products, and housewares," she recalls. "Accessories such as socks and active clothing are also very good (sold). Since we can order and receive most of these categories immediately, we have expanded this area of ​​the shop. Over the summer, everything that is casual sold best, especially simple sundresses are easy to put on when it's hot and not too fussy. "She took her cues from there, adding that" we have started adjusting orders for Prefall and Fall that focus on our bestselling and more casual brands Focus article. "

As a boutique owner, Emily always feels obliged to curate for her clients, but now even more emphatically: "It's up to us to be the translator and distill what happens in the fashion industry for the real world and the lawyer for the To be a consumer. ”That means stepping into one of these stores doesn't necessarily reflect overarching seasonal trends, but more specific pieces appropriate to a shopper's way of life. After the COVID outbreak, this initially meant loungewear and even more interest in home and beauty categories, according to Pauline and Net-a-Porter's global purchasing manager Elizabeth von der Goltz, who noted their customers' "great interest in beauty tools" and devices, skin care and health care products Hair care and more. "

Customers who have preferred online "boutiques" like Net-a-Porter and Shopbop for the luxurious, curated selections they can have delivered to their doorstep will find that these retailers stay more in tune after the switch to stay are at home with what you want to shop for. "We're working on a purchase that our buyer needs, and that means timeless, stylish, and sophisticated looks that feel relaxed for those who still work from home," said Elizabeth. A visit to the Net-a-Porter homepage reflects exactly that. One section highlights the new features, but also categories like "luxury loungewear" and "women's beauty", which focus on making it easy to get dressed and self-care at home. Fast fashion retailers like Zara also turned around. The brand expanded its range of sweatpants and knitwear sets and most recently introduced a lingerie category. Homebody clothing from "nap" clothes to tracksuits wasn't just "trendy"; They rejected our collective lifestyle change.

What do we want to buy now?

Months after the initial shock to the industry and our routines, the changes have solidified and trends in consumer behavior cemented new fashion standards. Consumers are influencing what they expect from retailers in real time, changing how shoppers store their shelves and how designers reinterpret their collections. The Spring '21 runways were the first real indication of this – the first time designers showed pieces created in the full context of the pandemic and its impact on our lifestyles. "Designers really got their money's worth and did things that work for them and it shows in their clothing and presentation," said Elizabeth. "For example, Christopher John Rogers, who usually appears at (Fashion Week), takes his own opinion on a presentation and show in October. Designers who have adapted to the times and embraced today's new lifestyle will remain the ones they stay." successfully."

Indeed, in the spring of 21, Christopher John Rogers first introduced knitwear in particular to offer his customers more practical clothing than his eventful looks of past seasons. It's not sweatpants or yoga pants; It is an attempt to offer buyers something stylish, but it was not invented. Pauline put her finger on it, explaining, "Our customers don't want to lose their fashion identity – they still want to look & # 39; cute & # 39; and feel stylish, but they rethink and search for what they actually need in their closets Workhorses that do that. " don't feel so valuable "

"Our customers don't want to lose their fashion identity – they still want to look 'cute' and feel stylish, but they are re-evaluating what they actually need."

Among other things, the pandemic has shed light on the difference between people with an innate interest in style and people who dress according to the trend cycle, for events or without obligation. As Emily pointed out, there are people who value "having a personal style and dressing themselves. I think you (still dress) when fashion is something you enjoy and I think that people find ways to do it. " enjoy what you love. People who don't like fashion but have had to participate in it because of their work or whatever they have been through in their life don't even think about it now. "

If we look to 2021, this is the ethos that will drive new shopping habits. Are there people who opt out together when things open up and fashion becomes more relevant again? Absolutely. But the people who have always loved fashion will continue to find reasons to buy clothes – not just sweatpants and loungewear – that suit their needs and aesthetic, even when there isn't a specific time or place to go buy the pieces.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 4: A passerby carries a blue ripped denim jacket, a yellow bag, a large white paper shopping bag on July 4, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot / Getty Images)
Image source: Getty / Raimonda Kulikauskiene

Who else do we shop for?

The root of being attracted to an occasion or a destination is the idea of ​​being seen. Unless we're seen, as has been the case for the past few months, the idea of ​​keeping up with the Joneses has become less and less relevant: "I think something has already changed in the last few years about what trends mean," noted Pauline . "I feel like style has become more personal and there are fewer prescribed trends each season. COVID will solidify this more … and style and trends are really becoming what you want to look and feel."

If we look at the runways and Christmas collections of Spring 21, we see that this idea is being realized. There is more longevity in the designs and less one-time wear clothing as buyers and designers are honoring a reputation for matching buyers' personal style. Elizabeth spoke to us about how the concept of trending felt "out of date" and told us that (consumers) will begin to adopt and own their own personal style and provide it with seasonal updates.

"Style and trends really become the way you want to look and feel."

There's a shift in mindset that we may all have felt at an individual level, and certainly one that some brands have tried to capture (Cuyana's mission statement "fewer, better things" comes to mind). But now it feels like it has become more prevalent in our collective consciences and in the business practices of the industry. Put simply, there is less appetite for trends and less feeding this trend cycle. Instead, we will see people who happen to love fashion and shop for what they enjoy.

As Emily said, "When I really, really love something, I know it will be part of me. I have paid less attention to the events." If that's the push that drives us to shop from here, if there aren't any trends or places to see, then the focus may not be on what's new and what's next – your calendar , the runway, or otherwise – but looking for what makes you really happy and buying more of it.


Melinda Martin