The top 10 apparel product categories for the first half of 2009.
The top 10 apparel product categories for the first half of 2009.
First-half 2009 sales: $1.97 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $1.88 billion There just might be something to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s theory about men’s underwear and consumer spending. WWD reported on Monday Greenspan believed sales of men’s undergarments could accurately predict swings in spending. “Unlike coats or sportswear, underwear sales tend to be unmoved by the vagaries of trends or seasonal spending,” WWD said. NPD’s Cohen agreed: “This is one of the few categories that you can actually see an economic indicator. Men’s underwear is doing just fine, because this business is about replenishment. It’s need based, and typically on an 18- to 24-month cycle. It means that the consumer is out there spending on necessity.”
First-half 2009 sales: $1.98 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $1.94 billion One item that kept this category alive: the hoodie. “Nothing knocks a hoodie off the top spot,” Cohen said. “The hoodie is important for men, but also for young consumers as of late, too — especially females. This drove fleece in a big way.” Popular hoodie retailers for young consumers include Aéropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, Buckle, Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, PacSun, Hollister and Urban Outfitters. Cohen said this year there was a turn toward casual: “Fleecewear takes people to the gym, through the gym, and it can be worn after the gym, for example. As the economy has been challenged, women and men have trended toward more casualwear.”
First-half 2009 sales: $2.49 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $2.52 billion Outdoor vacations have resonated with cost-conscious consumers, helping sales for camping, backpacking and hiking apparel. Attendance at national parks is up, according to the Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Topline Report. Retail sales for core outdoor stores dropped 2 percent compared with last June. The luxurious adventurer also is contributing to the cause, with core outerwear from Burberry helping to increase the company’s overall sales 8.5 percent in the first quarter, versus the same period last year.
First-half 2009 sales: $4.91 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $5.07 billion Even as sales of men’s underwear has increased, women aren’t keeping pace. The Warnaco Group Inc.’s intimate apparel sales dropped 8.2 percent in the second quarter, showing that money does come between a woman and her Calvins. New entrants for spring include Jessica Simpson Intimates, XOXO and Lucky Brand, all touting well-known names to young, label-conscious consumers. “This category has become more of a fashionable, impulse purchase — a depression-breaker buy, so to speak,” noted Cohen.
First-half 2009 sales: $2.13 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $2.22 billion “There’s been a depletion of fashion innerwear on retail selling floors, especially sleepwear, robes, loungewear, corsetry and embellished bra and coordinating undies,” WWD reported this month. “As a result, several Madison Avenue vendors said they will play it safe by offering a smattering of fashion merchandise topped by a large assortment of classic, everyday goods.” Men, however, are finding that they don’t have to wear a suit while looking for a job online — it’s much more comfortable in pajamas. Men’s sleepwear posted an 11.7 percent gain for the first half of the year, according to NPD.
First-half 2009 sales: $2.92 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $3.12 billion Socks with holes evoke hard times. Although some such as Austrian firm Wolford AG felt the pinch, with a net loss of $1.68 billion for the year ended April 30. Hosiery apparel maker Hanesbrands Inc. posted a decline in sales of 14 percent in the second quarter within its hosiery segment, compared with a 21 percent decline in the first quarter. Men’s legwear looks to be a potential bright spot for next spring, with Pony, British Apparel Collection and Oxxford all launching new products.
First-half 2009 sales: $31.06 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $33.63 billion “Traditionally, this is the category leader, across the board,” Cohen said. “No man or woman has enough basic white shirts or blouses, and they can always update an outfit with a simple top.” According to Amazon.com, best-selling tops last spring included the Van Heusen Men’s Wrinkle Free Poplin Solid Long Sleeve Shirt, the Geoffrey Beene Men’s Point Collar Fitted Sateen Woven Shirt and the Polo Ralph Lauren Mesh Polo Shirt. For women, top trends for spring shirts included fringe, plaid, muted florals, jeweled details and ruffles. Diane von Furstenberg’s spring collection included tunics and cardigans that were spice colored, while Ralph Lauren showed simple cotton shirts, loose-fitting silk blouses and back-baring cowl-necks.
First-half 2009 sales: $20.95 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $22.72 billion Two must-haves on WWD’s list of what men needed last spring included the cotton-nylon-Lycra-coated jeans by Rock & Republic and the dual-ringspun cotton jeans by Earnest Sewn. “Denim is a subset of bottoms,” Cohen said. “And denim continues to lead this category. If denim continues to show increases, that’s a good sign.” Last spring, Marc by Marc Jacobs featured baggy engineer striped pants and nubby college-professor tweeds, as Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters worked skinny pants for their choice of bottoms for the season.
First-half 2009 sales: $2.82 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $3.1 billion Considering the soppy summer, the good news for swim is that most consumers purchased suits before the rains hit. Reversible styles and versatile mix-and-match pieces provided a value proposition for buyers guided by price. For example, Beach Rays, a division of Southern California swimwear manufacturer J.Y. Rays, offered reversible girls’ boardshorts with prints on one side and solids on the other. Additional news on this category’s horizon: Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.-owned Izod is looking to a new partnership to grow its swimwear category, WWD reported last week. The brand has signed Studio Ray to produce Izod swimwear for the men’s, women’s and children’s wear markets. The Izod swimwear collection will begin retailing in department and specialty stores for spring.
First-half 2009 sales: $9.49 billion; first-half 2008 sales: $10.71 billion “The drop in this category came partly from those who had the suits that still made them wearable this year,” Cohen said. “Men can keep a suit for 20 years and won’t let them go. We also noticed that women cut down on their purchases of suits.” Dresses fall into this category, as well — spring 2009 collections revealed flirtatious cocktail dresses that were beaded, embroidered or patterned. Diane von Furstenberg, for example, showed flowy dresses and “kaleidoscope prints,” while Donna Karan’s collection centered on the draped jersey dress, colored in soothing earth and water tones. “Dresses are…worn year-round,” Cohen said. “Women have proven that the dress category is the shining spot, but because of the absence of dress inventory in stores, dresses have taken a hit this year.”