When art meets commerce on the runway at New York Fashion Week, art will get top billing — at first.
But after the designers take their bows, the cell phone shots have been tweeted and the show notes are cast aside, the commercial side of the equation will come to the fore.
Retailers will be quick to move from talk about how directional the fall looks are to the all-important question: “Will they sell?”
It’s always a thorny question, but there’s now more data than ever to inform one’s best guess. London-based retail tech company Editd keeps tabs on the world of e-commerce with a digital warehouse that has more than 53 billion data points on the fashion industry, including information on when new goods are introduced, what’s selling, what isn’t and when prices are cut.
Editd dug into that database, analyzing what’s been performing well on the Web and which areas are ripe for designers wanting to cash in with their fall collections. Here are the trends with the most commercial promise for designers online, as picked by Katie Smith, Editd’s senior fashion and retail market analyst.
• Travel-influenced looks. “There was a notable increase in investment [or looks stocked in the] swim category on the U.S. luxury market between 2013 and 2014, which resulted in a dramatic spike in products selling out at full price,” Smith said. “Although this isn’t a seasonally traditional category, for fall 2015 designers should bear in mind their consumer, and the immediacy of catwalk imagery these days — there’s increasingly global eyeballs on brands, as well as more people traveling inter-seasonally.” She advised designers work lighter trans-seasonal layers into their collections.
• Pants. “There was a 46.4 percent increase in investment in bottoms in 2014, compared with the year before,” Smith said. “This is still a growing category — designers need to take some focus away from dresses — separates are still hugely popular with an increasingly casual consumer.”
• Outerwear. “The 46 percent lift in investment in outerwear in the luxury U.S. market didn’t yet pay off as significantly as the increase in bottoms, but there is still progress from 2013,” Smith said. “Customers still need warming up to the notion that the statement coat is the new seasonal iconic piece — more so than footwear and bags. We’d like to see increased conversation between designers and retailers of this shift — featuring in more newsletters, social and advertising campaigns.”
Smith also dug into how some of the runway trends from recent seasons are playing out online.
The Seventies, for instance, are alive and well in e-commerce. The data firm found that new arrivals of flared jeans grew 173 percent in January versus two years earlier. “Across the board, wide trousers are on the increase, but as denim retailers scramble to fight off the athletic trend detracting from their jeans sales, we’re expecting to see a large increase in the number of flares stocked this year,” she said.
Athletic looks with a harder appeal are also gaining steam. “Looking at color analysis of new activewear arriving online in the U.K. and U.S. in the last month, the dominant colors are pale pink, shades of blue and neon brights, like lime,” Smith said. “Looking at the colors of the new arrivals which have sold out first, it becomes apparent that retailers have underestimated the popularity of black, gray and khaki green within their palettes.”
For their part, designers find themselves in the same position they’ve always been in. They can listen to their muses or their customers. Or — as is most realistically the case — they can do a little bit of both.