The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed fashion trends, as many people have looked to casual styles for their new work-from-home lifestyles.
While many leaned into athleisure trends, others have embraced the phenomenon of “Zoom dressing,” where the focus on a person’s outfit is often shoulder up. This trend has led to the increasing popularity of bold accessories and jewelry, particularly headbands.
Headbands have been a go-to for many women to add a sense of professionalism or polish to their WFH looks. The accessory has also served as a mood booster during the monotony of working remotely, as many have favored bold colors and embellished styles.
Aside from pandemic fashion trends, headbands have also seen an increase in popularity thanks to notable figures, including poet laureate Amanda Gorman and Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, who both wore eye-catching headbands at the presidential inauguration in January. According to data from Lyst, the women caused searches for headbands to increase by 123 percent following the inauguration. In the month after, buzz around the hair accessory continued with a 40 percent month-to-month increase.
Many brands, both those that specialize in headbands and fashion labels that have branched into the category, have seen this popularity translate to their own success, as their headband styles have resulted in quick sellouts and increased consumer demand.
Here, WWD looks at six fashion brands that have seen their headband offerings grow in popularity during the pandemic. Read on for more.
Jennifer Behr has been a staple figure in the accessories category since she launched her namesake brand 16 years ago. She can also take credit for many of Blair Waldorf’s signature headbands on the CW’s hit show “Gossip Girl,” which kicked off the last round of headband-mania in the late-Aughts.
Behr used her expertise in the category to not only sustain her business during the pandemic, but also drive record success. “Trends in the pandemic are a little bit different because what we’ve seen is people are buying less for a trend and they’re actually buying what they love and find beautiful,” Behr said about the growing popularity of headbands.
While Behr offers other accessories, like jewelry and hats, she said her headbands are the brand’s core product and top-performing category. She said over the last six months, her headband sales have grown more than twice as fast as the other categories. Overall, the brand saw its e-commerce sales increase year-over-year by 68 percent in February.
Behr has seen many of her styles resonate with customers over the last year, both her minimal headbands and the more elaborate and embellished items. She said her brand’s recently released Meadow headband, a white, floral embellished style priced at $495, became a quick best-seller after launching in February. For more casual styles, Behr said her recently relaunched leather headbands and classic satin headbands have also been popular for customers as they work remotely.
“[Headbands] are very front and center on Zoom and this sort of waist-up lifestyle that we have now,” she said. “I think people realized they’re easy to wear and it can match what they’re wearing and create this wardrobe. In our digital world, [headbands] bring a lot of color and life to your outfit. You’re not wearing shoes or carrying a handbag, but a headband is something that is very relevant to how we’re being seen right now.”
Behr thinks that the growing interest in headbands will continue through the year and she anticipates customers will continue to gravitate toward more embellished and colorful styles. She has plans to continue launching these styles in small drops, such as her recently released jewel-embellished Astoria headband.
Designer Lele Sadoughi has been known for her oversize, embellished headbands since she launched her namesake line in 2012. Her headband styles became even more popular during the pandemic when she started designing matching face masks.
She designed the face masks to match some of her popular headband styles, such as those embellished with pearls or star decals, and saw her customers immediately flock to the product. Sadoughi said that because of the accessible price point of the face masks, they served as an entry point into the brand and her other product categories, especially the headbands.
“We fortunately make products that people are still wanting,” she said. “The headbands and the jewelry are things that are very emotional pieces and they can liven up any outfit, especially for all the video conferencing.”
The success of the brand’s masks, plus the popularity of her headbands and jewelry, resulted in a record sales year in 2020. The brand saw year-over-year growth of 50 percent, with online sales up 150 percent.
The brand’s growth has continued into the new year. Sadoughi launched her higher-priced birthstone collection at the end of January, which included embellished headbands and jewelry inspired by each month’s birthstone, and saw that on launch day it sold out of half its inventory.
“It just goes to show that people are looking for something special and fun,” she said about the launch. “It’s more like a reward and a treat to buy a jeweled crown.”
Sadoughi has more trendy headband styles lined up to launch this year, including a collaboration with swimwear brand Solid & Striped slated for release next week.
She is also making her first venture into retail by opening a stand-alone store in Dallas’ Highland Park Village luxury shopping strip in mid-May. Sadoughi has her sights on opening five to eight more stores across the country in the next two to three years.
The pandemic hit at what’s typically a busy time for New York-based millinery designer Gigi Burris as her customers pick up her more elaborate headpieces in preparation for events like the Kentucky Derby or Central Park Conservancy luncheon.
This ended up not being the case given that virtually all in-person events were canceled because of the pandemic. Burris, however, didn’t see a loss in customers because of this, rather she saw they were gravitating toward her more casual accessories and veiled headbands for their new work-from-home wardrobes and micro weddings.
“[Headbands] really are a transformative accessory,” she said. “There’s something that it pretty immediately brings joy to whomever is wearing it and it just makes you feel really put together. When we’re pretty much presenting ourselves exclusively from the waist up, you are going to see people focusing on necklines, statement earrings, large necklaces and hair accessories because it makes you feel like you’ve gotten dressed.”
Burris said that her bridal category saw a boom last year as brides were eloping or hosting micro weddings and looking for an elegant, simpler headpiece than a traditional long veil. She said her Rachel veil, a thin, grosgrain wrapped headband with French veiling available in four colors, was a best-seller. She also saw brides gravitate toward her handmade, feathered headbands for their weddings.
“We’ve seen a continual rise in hair accessories really ever since Prada put those padded headbands on the runway,” she said about the headband trend. “People were excited about headbands. They want to have them as part of their look, particularly for a Zoom meeting or online gathering. I feel like there has definitely been a consistent and very healthy thirst for headbands.”
Burris also launched a few collections of more casual headband and hair accessories in the last year that proved to be popular among her customers. In November, Burris released a “Star Wars” collection, which took inspiration from characters like Yoda, Chewbacca and C-3PO. She also collaborated with her former Parsons School of Design classmate, fashion designer Jonathan Cohen, for an upcycled collection of headbands and scrunchies under Cohen’s The Studio line.
While it’s best known for its large assortment of jewelry, Baublebar has also established itself in the hair accessories category with a range of headbands from both its main line and its Sugar Fix brand exclusive to Target.
Both lines offer colorful, embellished headbands that fit in with the Zoom dressing trends, with styles embellished with colorful flowers, pearls and jewel details.
“People are really hyper-focused on how you dress from the shoulders up,” said Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founder of Baublebar. “That’s been so dramatically exemplified now that everyone is on Zoom all the time and you want to look presentable and polished. I think headbands and hair accessories offer a great and easy way to do that.”
The brand overall has seen success with its thematic collections, such as its Disney collection and Gemoji collection, which both offered cheeky jewelry designs. Baublebar’s thematic holiday collections also saw success, particularly its Halloween collection last year which offered headbands for the first year. The headbands were inspired by traditional Halloween costumes, such a devil, bunny and angel.
Yacobovsky said that the 2020 Halloween collection was “above and beyond where it’s been in years past” and that the headbands were very popular with customers who were celebrating the holiday virtually or socially distanced.
“I think folks are looking for products that make them feel happy and make them smile again,” she said. “We’re seeing people gravitating toward things that feel cheery, happy and optimistic.”
Hill House Home
Hill House Home is arguably best known for its best-selling Nap Dress, which became one of the most popular styles of 2020. The brand, however, has been experiencing growth among all of its offerings, including its hair accessories category.
The brand expanded into hair accessories in 2019, offering headbands and hair bows designed with jewel embellishments and satin fabrics. Some of Hill House Home’s headbands are designed to match its Nap Dresses, such as the Alice headband designed in a gold brocade print and blue floral print. Hill House Home has been releasing headbands and hair bows in new fabrics and styles with each Nap Dress launch.
“Headbands have always been a key accessory for me,” said Nell Diamond, founder and chief executive officer of the brand. “They’ve slowly become one of the most popular items we offer. In the Zoom era, headbands have really taken off and add instant polish.”
Hill House Home is slowly expanding its headband offerings, releasing its Halo and Noor headbands in white as well as its Belle hair bow in white for its upcoming bridal collection in May.
Fashion label Loeffler Randall has grown in popularity over the last 16 years largely for its shoe offerings. However, the brand is now getting more attention for its headbands after Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, wore one of its styles at the presidential inauguration in January.
“That was huge for us and such an honor for me personally to have our brand be a part of that historic day,” said Jessie Randall, founder and creative director of the brand.
While Emhoff, who recently signed with IMG Models and made her New York Fashion Week debut in February, went viral for her embellished Miu Miu coat at the inauguration, her thin, black Loeffler Randall headband also made an impression on spectators.
According to the brand, Emhoff’s headband also sold out on its e-commerce site following the inauguration.
During the pandemic and post-inauguration, the brand has seen growing interest in its hair accessories category. Loeffler Randall offers headbands in knotted and puffy styles made from canvas, linen and velvet fabrics, as well as leather and resin options.
“With so much time spent on Zoom, people were looking for small accessories to freshen up their looks, like headbands, collars and necklaces,” Randall said. “Little pieces that made a more casual outfit look more polished.”
Randall said that customers have been gravitating most toward the brand’s puffy and knotted headbands. Overall for the brand during the pandemic, Randall said the more casual pieces, like gold necklaces, slippers and flats, have been the most popular. As reported, the brand also opened its first storefront in New York City in February.
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