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Published June 8th 2021

The Big Fashion Industry Trends for 2021

The fashion industry, just like other sectors, faced significant challenges due to the pandemic last year. But other factors besides the pandemic were also in play. Let’s find out what else is helping shape the future of the fashion industry with the help of data and insights from our latest fashion report.

Five trends for the fashion industry to watch in 2021

Trend #1: The fight against ‘toxic masculinity’ and breaking gender stereotypes in fashion

Last year the luxury fashion sector saw a lot of online chatter around men’s fashion, and some of the biggest conversation triggers were the same social movement – breaking gender stereotypes and fighting against toxic masculinity.

Many brands and celebrities joined this cause last year and spread their influence through fashion and pop culture. 

Here are some of the most-engaged-with stories that made the luxury fashion headlines in 2020:

  • Gucci sells £1,700 dress with ribbon waist for men to fight ‘toxic masculinity stereotypes (The Sun)
  • 5 Times BTS’s Jin Ended Toxic Masculinity With His Love For All Things Pink (Koreaboo)
  • Harry Styles’ Dress On The Cover Of Vogue Is A Sign Of The Times (Refinery 29)
  • Gillette Puts The Spotlight On Toxic Masculinity In Sport In Ad With Raheem Sterling (AdAge)

Trend #2: Fast fashion: Consumers are leaning towards practicality

In 2020 the fast fashion market saw its share of volume increase 84.6% when compared to the the previous year. 

What were people discussing in relation to fast fashion?

It turns out a lot of online conversations around fast fashion were related to practicality: “looked both couture and sporty”, “hands-on sensibility and ready-to-wear”, “streetwear”, “street style” and “easy to wear around the house” were all key phrases used to describe fast fashion items. While fashion isn’t always known for practicality, it seems that there’s been a shift in consumers’ attitudes towards garments that serve multiple purposes as opposed to clothes that are ‘trendy’. 

Pro tip: By keeping an eye on relevant consumers’ discussions online, fashion retailers can stay ahead of the game and beat their competition by accurately forecasting and addressing consumer demand. Using a tool like Brandwatch Consumer Research can help retailers keep a check on relevant conversations about the industry, specific product categories, and the competition

Trend #3: Streetwear is embraced by luxury retailers

While the streetwear fashion category has been steadily growing in the last couple of years, the pandemic has definitely accelerated the shift toward more casual fashion.

Many luxury brands like Louis Vuitton jumped on the streetwear bandwagon by incorporating streetwear styles to appeal to the fashion-loving millennials with more disposable income. 

2020 also became known for fashion collaborations with influencers. For example, LV collaborated with BTS, a major global influencer and the #1 K-Pop band in the world. The BTS + Louis Vuitton collaboration received a lot of attention from the media when the luxury brand invited the K-Pop stars to Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Fall-Winter Fashion Show. 

Also, the K-Pop band’s appearance at the Grammys 2021 where they wore Louis Vuitton didn’t go unnoticed and was covered by major fashion publications like Esquire, GQ, and Vogue. 

Pro tip: Retail brands need to keep their fingers on the pulse of pop culture and emerging celebrities whose influence can often spread brand messaging far wider than traditional advertising or marketing can.

Trend #4: Sportswear: Value over profits

Sportswear saw a 123.5% increase in mention volume in 2020 when compared to the previous year. 

What was triggering the conversation around the sportswear category?

The top three most-engaged-with sportswear headlines in 2020 all mentioned the same company (Columbia Sportswear) and its CEO (Tim Boyle) who cut his salary to $10k in favor of continuing to pay the company’s retail employees while the brick-and-mortar locations were temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

In today's social and political climate, companies that care about their employees and do “the right thing” are praised by consumers. This will keep them top of mind and could translate into an increase in sales moving forward.

Trend #5: Office wear re-imagined

Surprisingly, the formal/office wear category also grew in 2020. The conversation around office wear went up 67% when compared to the volume of mentions in 2019. 

While the professional wardrobe as we know it didn’t get much traction in 2020, a new WFH business-casual category seemed to emerge in the data. 

The prolonged lockdown has forced many people to reexamine how they dress at home, and what that clothing represents. Consumers started embracing the new idea of power-dressing even in the WFH environment to elevate their mood and feel confident and motivated.

With that, several celebrities were considered the “perfect Zoom outfit” influencers, such as Meghan Markle who was praised for her polished look during a recent TV appearance.

Pro tip: While traditional formal office wear was replaced by dressed-down clothing during lockdown, there’s a massive opportunity for retailers to engage those consumers who are looking to upgrade their WFH wardrobes. Playing up the perceived benefits of dressing up while at home could result in successful marketing campaigns.

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Discover the Biggest Trends in Fashion for 2021

How did K-Pop influence fashion headlines in 2020? What’s causing a growing interest in office wear? And how are fashion brands impacting the conversation on toxic masculinity? Get all the answers in our new fashion report..

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.