NEW GEN Z 101: Unlock & Outlast Microtrends

What Does Fall & Holiday Fashion Look Like For Young Consumers This Year?

Sep 21 2020

Are young consumers getting comfy-clothes fatigue? We asked them what events and occasions they’ll be dressing up for, if they’re planning to ditch casual attire, and more…

Last week, we told you that loungewear is the top fashion trend that young females’ are interested in right now—and it’s a top trend among males as well. When COVID hit, sweats and slippers quickly became the uniform of 2020. But after months (and months) of wearing nap-ready at-home clothes, are they growing tired of all-comfy fashions? On the brink of a truly unique fall and holiday season, retailers need answers about what young consumers’ fashion choices will actually look like in the coming months.

We used YPulse’s real-time research tool PULSE to ask 16-34-year-olds all about their sartorial plans, whether they’ll be attending holiday events, what they’ll actually be dressing up for, and their feelings around getting “dressed up” after all this time of prioritizing comfort above all else. When we dug into whether they’re planning to purchase comfortable clothes or more formal or dressed up clothing, there was a clear winner:

Nearly half of 16-34-year-olds tell us that they plan to buy more comfortable/lounge clothing in the fall and holiday months, compared to 15% who plan to buy more formal/dressed up clothing. According to our 2020 fashion and style report, young consumers about their personal style, 61% of young consumers say “comfortable” is the way they would describe their personal style—and 58% said the same in 2019. The majority have also told us for years that comfort is their number one priority in what they wear. What COVID and the time at home has done is make their existing preference more acceptable than ever before.

In today’s PULSE survey, young respondents were far more likely to say they will be wearing comfortable/lounge clothes to online school or work and to all events and gatherings for the coming season than to say they’ll be dressing up for anything. Usually, back to school would be a key season for stocking up on new styles, but this year, many put that wardrobe restock on hold thanks to virtual classes and delayed school-starts. YPulse’s research shows that the majority of students are attending school at least partially online, if not fully online, this semester—and it’s clear from this data that when they do purchase new clothes for the fall, comfortable items will be winning out.

It’s also clear that they’ll also be favoring comfy attire for the coming holidays as well. Though nearly a quarter do tell us they will be  attending or hosting fall or holiday events/gatherings in-person, only 12% say they’ll be wearing more formal/dressed up clothes for these events. So, are there any occasions that they will be dressing up more nicely for? We asked:

When asked to choose from a list of occasions that they are dressing up more nicely for now, or might in the future, the top response was going out to dinner, with 37% saying they are or will dress up for a dinner out. Over a quarter also say that they are or will dress up more nicely for a hang out with friends. Though that’s certainly not the majority (and 42% did tell us that they plan to dress casually to hang out with friends) it does hint that there could be a marketing opportunity for presenting moments that have been rare this year (meals at restaurants and time in-person with friends) as the new special occasions.

Interestingly, young consumers are more likely to have plans to dress up for the actual holidays than for holiday parties. But when we dug further into their feelings around dressing up, we did find that their definition might not be the same as retailers’:

Over a quarter of young consumers say that right now getting dressed up is wearing anything other than sweats or pajamas. Many respondents’ comments supported this idea, with one explaining “I [did]n’t normally wear clothes other than a t-shirt and jeans before but now jeans counts as dressing up to me,” and another defining “dressing up” as “putting on clothes I’m not embarrassed to be seen with.” Another said, “dressing up involves wearing a belt, which is too much effort for me to sit at my computer.”

Of course, not all respondents felt the same. Others described dressing up as “all out makeup, dressed full on outfit” and “going outside my normal wardrobe and spending time on getting the perfect look.” Meanwhile, nearly one in five do say they are excited to dress up for fall and holiday events and gatherings. But as to the idea of “comfy clothes fatigue,” the evidence isn’t there. Young consumers are far more likely to have plans to continue donning their comfortable attire than to dress up for the upcoming seasons, and only 15% say they’re tired of wearing “at-home” clothes.

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