Trends in the High End Outerwear Industry
In current high-end clothing trends, the old paradigm of models showing off a particular look and consumers trying to mimic that look six months later is dying. Consequently, it would be a fallacy to attempt to define the most important fashion trends in terms of types of clothing, material, and color (though many continue to do so). Rather, the most important trends are the sweeping changes taking place in the high-end clothing industry.
CLOTHES FOR RENT
- Rather than buying high-end (and high-cost) clothing, an increasing number of people are choosing to rent clothes instead.
- Quality ranges from fashionable to designer clothes from companies like Diane Von Furstenberg, Proenza Schouler, and Rag & Bone.
- In addition to companies built around the rental model like Rent the Runway, existing clothing stores like Urban Outfitters are launching their own rental programs. In the case of Urban Outfitters' Nuuly service, the program runs on a subscription model with a base price of $88 per month.
- Similarly, companies like Renew and Poshmark sell gently-used high-end clothing.
- Wearable tech is no longer confined to the smartwatch. Bio-tracking and fitness tech is now being woven into garments.
- "Expect to see more self-regulating materials that adapt to cold, heat, UV rays. Some fabrics can kill bacteria, control air flow, moisturize skin or even broadcast your mood."
SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL FASHION
- While fashion is often thought of as "the antithesis to the concept of sustainability," there is a strong movement towards high-end clothing companies with demonstrably sustainable and ethical practices.
- Some claim that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more to purchase sustainable goods.
Sustainable practices include (quoted verbatim):
- Fair wages and working conditions
- Workers rights and sustainable livelihoods
- Reducing toxic pesticide and chemical use
- Developing eco-friendly production materials
- Eliminating water waste
- Recycling waste
- Addressing energy efficiency
- Developing and promoting sustainability
- Setting sustainability standards
- Protecting animal rights
High-end clothing designers who have been noted for their sustainable and ethical practices include:
- Misha Nonoo
- H&M (specifically, their "Conscious Collection")
- Stella McCartney
- Eileen Fisher
- G-Star Raw
- As noted in a recent article in Luxe, "Luxury fashion and athletic wear are no longer two distinct worlds," giving rise to a style which is most often referred to as athleisure or activewear.
- Athleisure includes "yoga pants, jogger pants, tank tops, sports bras, hoodies" and other clothes originally intended for exercise, but increasingly seen as everyday wear.
- Part of the appeal of this aesthetic is that it presents an image of wellness and fitness.
- Athleisure is growing at a CAGR of 6.5%, well ahead of the 4.5% growth of the high-end fashion industry.
- Consequently, high-end clothing brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel have launched their own athleisure lines.
- Athleisure may be related to a trend towards minimalism, owning "small, selective wardrobes focused only on basics," sometimes called "capsule wardrobes."
THE DEATH OF FASHION
- Fashion journals continue to note style trends, such as the prominence of waist cinchers, patchworks of different materials, fleece, and the color purple in recent fashion shows. However, these observations differ from year to year and even from source to source in the same period.
- Consequently, many industry watchers have begun to argue that fashion, in the traditional sense of society-wide clothing styles taken from the runway, is dead.
- Likewise, an article in the New York Post last year quipped that "fashion hasn’t produced a must-have shift in dressing since the skinny jean in 2005. There is nothing we, as consumers, feel compelled to buy."
- Cameron Silver, founder of Decades, recently stated that "the fashion industry, in general, is in an existential crisis at present. The way younger generations consume in a shared economy is ultimately providing huge challenges and fashion shows no longer engage the same way with customers."
- Three of the factors driving this trend are sustainability (see above), the rise of e-commerce, more casual dress in the workplace, and brands "losing their place as status symbols."
- However, this is primarily a feature of Western society; in China, for example, the desire for high-end clothing is accelerating, growing 6% last year compared to the overall industry's 4.5%.
- This is not to say that high-quality fashion brands are going extinct; the industry is still growing, but brands have to rely on more than their name or the runway to remain successful, as Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, and J. Crew have discovered to their detriment.
This was a project in which the principal problem was not finding the information, but — due to the amount attention media sources pay to fashion — narrowing down the field. Ultimately, our selection came down to trends that were attested to in multiple credible sources, of which our source list is a representative sample. Note that while we nominally use sources published as much as two years ago, in this case, we mostly restricted ourselves to sources from the past year due to the fast-changing nature of fashion and the clothing industry.