Feb 12, 2019 | By Sandra Halliday
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The shift to a casual form of dress has been a reaction to the growth of athleisure, a casualised workplace and consequently, a demand for comfortability. Whilst this look remains the dominant aesthetic, the market has become saturated, leaving female shoppers wanting something fresh and different. In A/W 17/18 we saw the tailoring trend start to trickle into assortments and for S/S 18, this was amplified.
In the UK womenswear market, smart products (those that include tailor, formal, blazer, suit, smart or tuxedo in the product name or description) grew the most at luxury and trend-led retailers, whilst in the US, it was the trend-led and contemporary retailers that placed the highest emphasis. This demonstrates that whilst it’s a growing trend, it is one that is demographic and doesn’t reflect a significant market shift. The way consumers dress won’t be dramatically changing to a formal aesthetic, however, retailers do need to balance assortments to meet this expanding demand.
Avoid saturation with a balanced product mix
Firstly, this balanced assortment should be taken literally, as can be seen in the US luxury and UK mass market. Both segments share smart and casual products (including joggers, track, hoody, hoodie, sweatshirt in the product name or description) equally, holding 8% and 3% of their total new-in assortments. Keeping this level-footed approach diminishes the risk of saturation, appeals to a vast range of shoppers and will continue to benefit from a focus on hi-lo styling trends. This allows both smart and casual product to be easily merchandised and cross-sold, easing shoppers into the look by pairing with trainers or leather biker jacket.
Dilute smart looks with casual detailing
On the other hand, balancing can take shape in the form of design too. Whistles and Lipsy encapsulate both elements into their A/W 18/19 collections, casualising suiting with a pyjama style shape that we saw enter the market late last year. For retailers dipping their toes into this trend, this offers a good introduction to the look; coinciding with winter partywear drops. This is a fashion-led look however and won’t be suitable for all so test small batches of product to gauge demand for S/S 19.
Empower women with visuals
The idea of a more tailored look will continue into next year, reflecting a new empowered woman that is confident in the way she dresses and presents herself. It will give female consumers courage to dress how they please, turning what it means to be powerful on its head. In order to reach her, visualise these new tailored looks on realistic, aspirational women across social channels and merchandising to drive home a sense of community and therefore, demand.
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