Shoppers Behaviour and SS21 Collections set to define Fashion Trends

It is not that easy to offer a clear interpretation of fashion’s language when – now more than ever – so many fragmentary and plural cultures coexist and influence each other. Yet, some practical elements, if properly analysed, can bring us aid in outlining which of the major fashion trends are direct consequences of the ongoing pandemic.

As fashion is known to be intrinsically linked to consumers and societal attitudes, we can easily evince from consumer spending behaviour that self-care, comfort and wellness are priorities which are likely to outlast the pandemic. But how can we concretely assume this?

Vogue Business has recently shed a light on global payments provider and shopping platform Klarna, which is tracking information for its network of 200.000 retail partners – including Farfetch, The North Face and Olivia Rubin -, analysing product-level shopping habits and insights from its 90 million online customers. Of particular relevance, Klarna’s app provides consumers with a “wish-list tool”, which allows them to save and share with their peers all the products they want to buy next from specific brands. For instance, this tool proves to be a rich source of data that helps companies understand what shoppers actually want.

According to Klarna’s wish list data, 2020 saw a rise in popularity of what we can call comfort consumerism, that is a propensity to purchase goods supposed to help consumers with anxiety reduction, to feel happy and positive, to have therapeutic value in the pursuit of consolation, in regards to the challenging times we are living. Activewear and designer athleisure are on top of the list in popularity, with Klarna’s 2020 Holiday Retail Report remarking that 79% of its customers would rather feel healthy that wealthy. Sneakers are holding 9 out of 10 positions on the footwear wish-list, while beauty skincare products are also taking 6 out of 10 spots on the Klarna top 10 beauty wish list.

Athletic mood

In a difficult year where exploration has been limited globally, the love of nature for its restorative power is expected to grow exponentially: activewear and outdoor will respond to the increasing demand of physical and mental benefits of exploring the outdoors and loving wild places. Offered in different versions in the Spring 2021 collections, in primary colours or in black and white, in extra-long or cropped volumes, shrunken or oversized proportions, windbreakers, anoraks and raincoats become fertile playgrounds where innovative and functional details are stolen from extreme sportswear garments. In line with this, the athleisure mood is increasingly pervading daywear clothing in favour of everyday practicality. However, this is not something that came with the pandemic: the trend forecasting firm WGSN has been tracking this comfier direction for around four years, in line with the expectations of spending more time at home as a result of more flexible lifestyles and increased home convenience. The comfort feature would be then a natural development and consequence towards innovation aimed at making life easier.

Global lockdowns and the new work-from-home culture have seen undeniable change in the way that we are dressing”, said Celenie Laura Fleur Seidel, editor at Farfetch, referring to the increase in sales of loungewear (see Kristina Fidelskaya, Ralph&Russo), flat shoes and smaller bags for essentials, comfort-related trends that she reckons will remain also post-pandemic.

Balloon proportions & Puffed volumes

Balloon proportions answer to the emotional need of security and sheltering at home: developed in Jonathan Anderson’s SS21 collection at Loewe, they are based on the idea of “escaping into clothes” in socially distanced times. MSGM also choose voluminous and playful silhouettes that communicate physical and tactile softness, while Dzhus conveys the idea of a warm and protective cocoon from the outside world. Puffer jackets and vests at Fendi, Cukovy and Maison Margiela Avant Première turn to an idea of comfort related to the sense of protection.

Soft Knitwear

The need for clothes to feel less restrictive results in entire knitwear outfits at Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Issey Miyake, just to name a few examples. Balenciaga’s mask-like turtlenecks instead rouse in the consumer need for protection and emotional wellbeing.

XXL button-down shirts

XXL button-down shirts are a trend spotted by Harper’s Bazaar: seen on Sacai, Michael Kors, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli, Valentino catwalks, the comfortable attitude is here in the effortless chic they convey, and the easy-to-wear component in the billowing volumes, in soft-coloured poplins; they can be worn as dresses, shown extra-long or extra-wide.

Prairie dresses & Nap dresses

Prairie dresses and nap dresses (Rodarte, Anna Sui, Erdem, Nicole Miller, Custommade) are among 2020’s most memorable trends – which are supposed to stay in 2021 – because of their versatility, casual femininity and their adaptability to any body type. “We tend to feel more “dressed up” when wearing a dress than other garments, and so choosing a comfortable style of dress during the pandemic makes perfect sense”, affirmed behavioral psychologist Carolyn Mair to Refinery29.


Cinched and narrow-waisted jackets are instead a trend highlighted by Vogue: previously part of the post-WWII glamour trend, the bar jackets are now being restyled as part of comfortable and practical outfits. (Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Carolina Herrera, Wales Bonner, Altuzarra).

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