The world is on the road to recovery as we step away from a tumultuous 2020/2021 and begin to consider what the future holds. Radical lifestyle shifts have motivated consumers to make intentional, mindful and ambitious decisions. This year, consumers are taking back the reins and paving a path based on their passions and values. This article explores two trends driving consumer behaviour in Australia.
Pursuit of Preloved
Second-hand shopping is becoming more mainstream. The consequences of natural disasters in 2020, including bush fires and flooding, combined with the impact of COVID-19, accentuated the environmental concerns of Australians. At the same time, affordability became a crucial factor during the unstable economic situation, with 56 percent of Australians indicating they will consider increasing purchases of second-hand items in the future, according to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2021. For the apparel and footwear industry, slow fashion is also likely to help this trend flourish.
Sustainability and individuality are removing the stigma associated with second-hand shopping and driving peer-to-peer commerce. Despite limited special occasions for formalwear due to the pandemic, rental companies continued to gain traction in Australia in 2021, as these not only provide convenience, lower prices and access to a variety of wardrobe options, but also limit the impact on the environment by reducing the number of single-wear items purchased. Luxury items also enjoyed the benefits of this trend, allowing users to rent out or sell their own luxury clothing and accessories to other fashion aficionados. Vintage and slow fashion helped this trend flourish in the apparel market. Younger generations are in Pursuit of Preloved, searching for one-of-a-kind products. According to the survey, one-fifth of consumers will consider increasing purchases of second-hand items in the future.
Despite most businesses trading on a peer-to-peer service basis, designer-led rental services have also gained relevance. For example, department store David Jones launched its Designer Rental section, partnering with local rental platform and certified B Corp GlamCorner, in October 2020. The alliance has served David Jones well, positioning its service as a first step towards a circular economy. Similarly, local designers have also partnered with GlamCorner to create their own rental destination, including Australian labels CAMILLA and Spell.
With consumers becoming more educated on the negative impact of the clothing industry on the environment, demand for unique items that have a longer-term use is anticipated. Also, interest in recycled fibres is anticipated to continue to gain relevance in the next five years in Australia.
Businesses offering the recycling of textiles and upcycling services, such as Upparel, Loop and After, are also anticipated to grow in Australia, further responding to environmental concerns.
Alternative business models, such as resale, renting or peer-to-peer sharing platforms, are rapidly gaining ground. With consumers rapidly embracing these options due to sustainability concerns or because of financial constraints, there is a growing need for more versatile and agile business propositions, as renting and resale could unlock growth opportunities beyond ownership for the luxury goods industry.
Self-Love Seekers invest in taking care of their bodies and minds, from what they eat and drink to the products they use. Self-Love Seekers appreciate their worth and accept their struggles and flaws. Owning these realities enables consumers to be their own source of happiness.
Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of consumer attitudes due to societal shifts towards female empowerment, and greater visibility and inclusivity are anticipated to continue to gain relevance in Australia. Inclusive initiatives are booming, with collections including adaptative lines, gender-neutral and plus-size. This has been further supported by communication and marketing, with companies like Active Truth featuring models of all shapes, colours and abilities, whilst pushing for no photoshopping of models.
Niche brands have been faster to respond to the demand for inclusivity, with brands such as EveryHuman, Christina Stephens and Averee offering adaptive clothing and footwear online. In 2021, larger retailers, including The Iconic and Modibodi, also expanded their offerings to include adaptative collections. For instance, Modibodi extended its underwear range to include an adaptative line that includes side openings to facilitate getting dressed.
Similarly, clothing is also becoming more gender-neutral, particularly for children, although the pink/blue dichotomy is still heavily at play. Companies pushing forward this trend tend to be indie and very niche brands, but more mainstream brands, such as Bonds, have also been launching gender-neutral lines. In fact, Bonds launched a 2021 genderless collection, supported by a campaign under the tagline, “We can’t be truly comfy until everyone is”. Other companies also competing in the gender-neutral category in Australia include Danish brand Lil’ Atelier, launched in March 2021, and The Memo, which offers a collection of clothing that is not labelled or classified by gender.
As inclusivity becomes an ever more important brand attribute, plus-size has witnessed both a reboot and a rebrand. After several marketing backlashes, fashion companies are fine-tuning their approach to plus-size marketing, gradually moving towards body-positive and empowerment. In fact, several companies are relaunching or renewing their plus-size collections, including retailers such as Forever New, and City Chic, which recently broadened its brand portfolio with the acquisition of Avenue, Evans and Navabi.
Source: Retail in Asia