2021 Fashion & Merchandising Industry Trends

What major changes should you watch out for in the fashion industry in 2021? Find out more and ramp up your merch business to its best level yet with this market guide from Opulent Creations.

The fashion industry is almost as volatile as the stock market itself —

From fleeting florals to rapidly evolving mixed printed ensembles, it seems that one season’s most acclaimed collection of haute couture is another season’s waste bin contents. By knowing what to watch out for in the apparel merchandising markets this year (and every year), you can get ahead of the curve — and sew up the competition so that you’ve got it in the bag.

Read on to learn more about the top trends we’re seeing in the fashion and merch industries in 2021, and contact Opulent Creations today to discover how our custom embroidery and apparel development services can further your efforts to build a prominent clothing brand.

Top Market Trends In 2021 For Fashion, Apparel, & Clothing Product Merchandising Industries:

  • E-COMMERCE continues to see enormous growth

  • GREATER CUSTOMIZATION & PERSONALIZATION of client shopping experience

  • ACCESSORIES & HANDBAGS are likely to see number drops

  • SUBSCRIPTION MODELS make major waves in sales

E-Commerce Is Still Enormous — But It’s Getting Bigger

As anyone in the fashion industry — or even anyone with a modest interest in clothing — knows, online shopping is no longer so much the “future” as it is the “now.” However, 2021 is especially notable in this area of retail, as e-commerce is expected to grow exponentially in relation to ever-dwindling brick-and-mortar models. Of course, a traditional storefront is certainly still viable for boutiques and well-established clothing business franchises, so if that’s your forte at this time, don’t be discouraged by this sliver of the numbers we’re about to assess.

To put it plainly, e-commerce sites offering apparel and merchandise can expect their demand to reach an average of 60% potential market share. Why? According to the leading expert (for all intents and purposes) on e-commerce, Shopify asserts that the digital sector is skyrocketing, with roughly six out of 10 customers now preferring screen-enabled shopping experiences to traditional models and in-person methods of merchandise purchasing. This last detail about client preferences brings us to Trend #2 in our 2021 fashion market insights report.

Tracking User Behavior Improves Shopping Experience

Personalize. Customize. Optimize.

Thanks to modern technology and highly sophisticated site design algorithms, the online shopping experience is closer to customers than ever before. In 2021, fashion and apparel retailers should take stock of their current online shopping platforms, if any, as well as how their site functionality ties into individual user experience factors.

For instance, some of the most successful online clothing and merchandise sellers have leveraged plugins that automatically generate product recommendations for site visitors, sometimes even acquiring enough cookies to optimize the experience before they’ve purchased anything. So whether your goal is to get customers to click the final “checkout” button, or you simply want to generate more organic traffic to your latest release of awe-inspiring apparel, this year’s data and stats suggest that you can increase your odds of success by first focusing on what your clientele may be looking for — then locating the website tech that can find it for them.

“Bye, Bye” To Handbags? Accessories May Be In Excess Supply

Perhaps one of the more concerning — or, for some, downright upsetting — trends in 2021 to affect fashion markets is the already-visible downward turn in sales of handbags, shoes, scarves, and a whole spectrum of accessories. Once Michael Kors and Coach had a tacitly understood and accepted monopoly on the accessories market, and although they probably still do, they may be researching this very topic at the same time that you are due to dropping demand among their once-loyal fashion-forward demographics and purse-toting patrons.

In spite of a relatively decent year in 2020, with 15.6% growth that miraculously defied the pandemic slump, this industry sphere known for handbags, clutches, wallets, and more is soon to see a drop in growth. To be more specific, 2022 long-term models hint at a minor dive into the single digits, with accessories and related apparel markets expected to see an approximate high (best-case scenario) of 9% growth.

Customer Subscribes Today. Company Succeeds Tomorrow.

Okay, maybe that’s oversimplifying it, but it’s more true than not that you’re hard-pressed to find a more sustainable and successful model for customer retention than subscription models. What started on e-commerce clothing retail sites and was once limited to online platforms alone has now expanded into other spheres of the style industry — subscription models and monthly packages are increasingly being adopted by digitally proactive businesses, apparel brand actors, and other professionals. Product subscription boxes and recurring “sampling” kits are making their way into the marketing efforts of traditional clothing companies, small retail sites, and boutiques, many of which have historically operated on a model that would fall under the “brick-and-mortar” umbrella.

Subscription models operate to save clients money by providing them with semiannual or monthly deliveries of the manufacturer’s goods, whether the fashion business sells custom t-shirts, high-end heels, or unique denim garments with a patented production process. However, thanks to tiered pricing options and clear improvements in long-term customer retention outcomes, subscription models work just as well for the buyer who wears the goods as the manufacturer who boxes up the product in the first place.

This e-commerce trend that trickled down into traditional retail establishments couldn’t have come at a better time. Many businesses had to shutter their storefronts during the most restrictive periods of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, these establishments are now starting to reopen in order to return to normal interactions with face-to-face shoppers.

So if you’re in the same boat, set yourself up for success in the years to come by adding an online subscription option for frequent buyers at your retail store, as this e-commercial expansion can provide a second source of income for virtually all fashion brands and clothing companies — including yours.

Want to learn more about how personalized merchandise and custom-crafted apparel can increase sales at your clothing business or retail store?

Contact Opulent Creations today to discuss our services for custom embroidery, product design, brand development, and more!