Just How Influential are Trends?


Blogs, street style, emerging art movements and rapidly changing music genres: with the myriad of real-time references influencing fashion today, do mainstream trends really still exist? Or is each brand/retailer able to identify and cater for the demands of their own unique customer base?

We looked at data on last month’s ‘Top Movers’ (as defined by quick sell-through, no discounting and subsequent restocks) from 11 global online retailers across a diverse spread of price points. They were: Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Net-a-Porter, Bloomingdales, Forever21, Neiman Marcus, Zara, Shopbop, ASOS and Anthropologie.
Selecting the 10 quickest selling garments across all clothing categories gives a compelling insight into which trends each retailer has invested in and how their customer is responding. Comparing top 10 garments across the different retailers then gives a fascinating picture of what is going on in the industry. And what you can very quickly see from the data is that trends are not just alive, they’re seemingly immortal.

Here we analyze the hottest current trends:

1.  Fringing

In May, fringing featured on sellout garments at Neiman Marcus and H&M. At Zara, two of the month’s ten Top Movers were fringed. Fringing saw a staggering 27,703 online mentions in the month of May – a figure which has remained pretty steady for the past twelve months, peaking around fashion weeks. The top selling garment styles were black dresses with fringing (22.99 at Zara and 19.99 at H&M), whilst the highest priced sell out was the $695 Haute Hippie flapper dress at Neiman Marcus. The trend doesn’t look set to calm anytime soon – 361 new fringed products have arrived online in the last 14 days.

2.  Dipped hems

Dipped hems may be a difficult trend to pull off, but that hasn’t stopped retailers backing them, nor consumers lapping them up. They featured in the Top Movers at Urban Outfitters, H&M and in two styles at Forever21. For Urban Outfitters this was the $168 dollar Betsey Johnson dress, whilst at H&M the hem shape featured on a £14.99 dip-dye top, with dramatic longline back. Forever21’s two fast-moving versions of the hemline both featured on dresses, one cap sleeved and another strapless – both £14.75. 446 new dipped hem (or ‘high low hem’ in the US) products arrived online in the 14 days. Astonishingly the online chatter about dipped hems in May has increased by 582% from when the trend was first named back in August last year!

3.  Tribal/Aztec prints

Aztec prints are a huge hit online, with sentiment towards the trend shooting up at the end of May. Celebrities like Rihanna and Jessie J are instrumental in helping this trend shift! Aztec or tribal print garments featured in May’s Top Movers at H&M, Urban Outfitters and Forever21. Topshop meanwhile had three items from the trend in the monthly Top Movers: two of which were body con dresses and one maxi dress. The successful garments spread in price from £7.75 (Forever21) to £42 (Urban Outfitters).

4.  Tie/dip dye

For a clothing trend that was sparked by a hair-colouring trend, this style has sold incredibly well. The volume of online chatter surrounding the trend in the month of May has grown by 287% from the same time period six months ago. At both H&M and Bloomingdales, this translated into two of ten of the retailers’ fastest selling garments in May and one for ASOS. For H&M this was a basic flared jersey dress at 7.49 and the aforementioned dip hem top. ASOS found success in their 20 tie-dye leggings, whilst Bloomingdales sold swiftly on two different styles of tie-dye open shouldered top, one by Debbie Katz ($99) and another by Bailey 44 ($150).

5.  Maxi dress

Maxi dresses have been big business for a couple of years now and are becoming less dependent on the summer season for their success too. This was one of the most successful trends we saw across the 11 retailers, featuring in the Top Movers of Topshop, H&M (in 3 garments), Forever21 (in 3 garments), Anthropologie, Shopbop, Net-a-Porter and Bloomingdales (in 2 garments). Shopbop and Net-a-Porter’s sell outs both included the M Missoni knit maxi (508 at Shopbop and 475 at Net-a-Porter). That offered an impressive price spread ranging from 12.50 (Forever21) to Shopbop’s 508. Maxi dresses saw 26,018 online mentions in the month of May, which tally well with the sell out successes – consumers really do talk about what they buy!

6.  Cardigans

Trans-seasonal dressing is certainly something the UK market benefits from, but so too for the US market. Consumer sentiment and volume of online chatter about cardigans has remained level across the last 8 months despite that period covering a dramatic change in seasons. 1,002 new cardigan products arrived online in last 14 days. Cardigan shapes featured in the Top Movers at Urban Outfitters, Topshop, H&M, Forever21, Anthropologie (in 3 of the 10 garments), ASOS (in 3 of 10) and Bloomingdales (3 of 10). The overwhelming majority of these cardigans were hip length, free of fastenings and in boxy or kimono shapes. Prices ranged from $218 at Bloomingdales to 10.50 at Forever21.

7.  Body Con dresses

Body con styles saw 2573 online mentions in the month of May and within the last 14 days a total of 290 new products have arrived online. Body con dresses sold speedily for Topshop, H&M, Zara, ASOS (in 2 of 10 garments), Net-a-Porter and Neiman Marcus. The assortment included printed (Topshop, Net-a-Porter and Zara), bandage (Urban Outfitters and Neiman Marcus), knitted (H&M) and LBD (ASOS and Topshop). Prices ranged from Herve Leger’s $1780 bandage dress at Neiman Marcus (which arguably could be called the original) to Topshop’s 22 basic high neck vest body con dress. A product truly selling at every price point!

8.  Peplums

This is one of the biggest and most resilient trends we’ve seen over the past year and still selling like hot cakes. Anthropologie, Shopbop and ASOS all had garments within their Top Movers. At Anthropologie and Shopbop the detail featured on shell tops, in white. For ASOS, their two peplum Top Movers featured on fitted dresses. The trend will continue, as the 297 new products which dropped in the past 14 days suggest. But a more convincing measure of the trend’s certainty is the consumer chatter over the past year. Whilst sentiment has remained consistently positive over the last 12 months, volume of discussion has seen a staggering 2333% increase. That big an increase in people discussing a trend with no dip in sentiment? Get on board.

Interestingly, we found that garments which cross referenced trends, combining more than one trend in a garment, were the most successful. Rather than overwhelm consumers, these ‘brave’ garments appeared to stand out in a retailer’s assortment. ASOS and Topshop are both good at this: their body con dresses paid homage to the peplum and Aztec trends respectively.

There you have the 8 hottest trends in the world right now, and some pretty convincing evidence that trends are still huge business. They are well worth not only being aware of, but staying one step ahead of by using data to secure commercial success.

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