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Retail Trends

The Roaring 20s of Retail

Team MakerSights

January 4, 2020

The MakerSights team pitched in to create our top predictions for the next decade of fashion. The Roaring 20s of Retail.

Fashion Trends:

  • As more jobs offer work-from-home options, apparel will continue the trend to casual, comfortable, and seasonless. Fabric development focuses on performance not just for athletes, but also performance for lightweight, comfortable, attractive casual everyday clothes.  
  • With the doubling down on athleisure, footwear will follow this trend with casually oriented shoes continuing to grow. Consumers will continue to crave fashionable and hip pieces that double as a functional everyday shoe.
  • Footwear will continue to lead apparel innovation with new materials, ethical sourcing and low impact production. Sustainability will continue to be a major driver for top footwear brands as consumers balance technical requirements with environmental impact.
  • Luxury and Streetwear will deepen their love-affair with high fashion relying on influential collaborations and stunning streetwear to maintain luxury brand’s relevance.
  • Luxury brands will begin renting out-of-season collections rather than liquidating and marking down styles.
  • African brands gain global resonance with the elevation of heritage patterns and production methods being key components of ethically supporting remote communities.
  • Colors begin to pop again. After a decade dominated by black, blue and gray hues, the 2020s will see a rise of bolder colors, patterns and accessible prints.

Technology in Retail:

  • Retailers will finally crack the code to tracking consumers path to purchase. In conjunction tightening data privacy regulations, retailers will stitch together the online and bricks & mortar interactions into a seamless experience.
  • Brands become gamified with brand experiences transforming consumer behaviors in bricks and mortar environments to make them more engaging. While this will begin as a loyalty play, gamification will continue beyond encouraging repeat purchases to making authentic excitement with the brand.
  • Brand technology investments will move beyond e-commerce to supporting core business processes. Technology will accelerate the innovation required to keep pace against global commoditization.

Shopping Experience:

  • Fashion brands will reverse the trend of selling through Amazon & start considering their distribution channels core drivers of their brand value.
  • The role of store associates changes dramatically, becoming the critical front lines of a consumer’s experience with a brand, rather than someone commissioned on sales.
  • Brick and mortar will be an important way that brands interact and gather information about their consumers. We’ll see technology be an important player here.
  • US retail will mirror Japan’s, where small brands lease space & resources from landlords who operate a total retail experience, making B&M experiences accessible for smaller brands.
  • Shopping centers shift from only commerce experiences to community resource centers. Rather than closing store fronts, malls will be revitalized with a multi-purpose blend of traditional commerce, shopping and entertainment, along with new mall experiences. These new malls will feature health and wellness including urgent care or mental health facilities, luxury spas and self-care facilities, religious and community centers, along with physical fun including family activities like minigolf, bowling and Disneyland type experiences.

DTC Brands:

  • The proliferation of heavily funded, VC-backed DTC brands will slow as the marketing cost to grow these businesses continues to put downward pressure on unit economics.
  • Over the first half of the decade we will see an increase of self-funded DTC brands that have a passion for a product and flexible supply chains to support them. This will put upward pressure on mid-market brands to compete both with the biggest and smallest brands.
  • Large legacy fashion brands will become “house of brands” as they begin to buy trendy digitally native and DTC brands.


  • Sustainability will shift from being a buzzword that many brands talk about to a core competency that drives customer loyalty among Gen Z & younger consumers.
  • Sales from fast fashion retailers will decline significantly, due to pressure around their environmental impact, as well as the growing supply chain agility of more traditional players.
  • Vegan, sustainable leather will replace traditional leather in over 25% of “leather goods”.
  • UPI costs (unproductive inventory) will continue to explode threatening to crush retailers unless they find new ways to outsource recycling + resell rather than throw-out old product.
  • The average for a garment will steadily increase over the decade (and not only due to inflation), as the sustainable “fewer, better” movement drives consumers to spend more intentionally on fewer garments.
  • Being a sustainable oriented company will not be a “nice to have,” it will move to a “must.” Companies will have to become more transparent. We will be able to see and interact more with the factories and the people making the clothes.

Social Consumers:

  • Social media (IG, FB) will grow to 50% of online revenue. As lines blur between organic and paid social, digital media spend will continue to explode to eat up 80% of marketing budgets.
  • Brand communications will shift from static emails to dynamic text messaging, chat bots, and social media as brands seek to further engagement with consumers.
  • Instagram commerce will explode in the first half of the decade and then growth will slow as Gen Z shifts more commerce to other platforms and back to B&M!
  • Influencers will continue to decline in influence as consumers place increased value on authentic over sponsored interactions. Brand influencers will still be able to motivate purchase trends as long as consumers don’t feel it is pay-to-play. With influencers acting more as curators and less as paid sponsors.

The next generations:

  • With the commoditization of basics by newer asian entrants to the market, celebrity collaborations & other collaborations will gain prominence as brands seek to engender exclusivity.
  • As GenZ salaries rise their collective buying power will be focused on a brand’s authenticity. Beyond just environmental sustainability, the rising importance of ethics, social responsibility, and cultural sensitivity will come to dominate the younger consumers’ shopping behaviors.
  • Consumer behavior over the past decade has shifted considerably from the traits of consumers in the 2000s. As the speed of consumerism becomes instantaneous, trends will pop and fizzle with a daunting pace with many brands continually chasing fading interest or strategically positioning themselves to only access every other or every third major trend.
  • GenAlpha, the second digitally native generation, will expect a fusion of fashion and digital technologies in a seamless way. At the end of the decade, expect new materials that permeate light, sound, and digitization in a way that fashion has only flirted with.


  • The dominance of European brands will meet stiff competition from Korean and Japanese brands pushing innovative silhouettes and material choices.
  • China has dominated the collective attention of global fashion brands for the past 20 years, but few brands have gained the traction in the market that they expected. Brands will stop looking at China as a monolith and begin to tease a part segments and geographies to produce a deeper resonance with target demographics.
  • As brands look beyond China for their next growth drivers, several markets will be the next series of targets. As the economies of Brazil and India strengthen they will both be prime targets for global brands. Markets will accelerate in Southeast Asia with the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand gaining regional prominence. As Russia returns to economic power, fashion pursuits in Russia will expand beyond luxury. But beware, each country’s consumers will bring with them their own cultures, tastes and purchasing power which will require brands to approach each market with nuance to be overwhelmingly successful.
  • South American natural materials move to higher prominence, especially for apparel suited for warm and comfy stylings. Alpaca will see growing prominence as this trend hits.

Personalized Fashion:

  • The market will grow to meet the demands for personalized retail -- with localized products, expansion of sizes/lengths, novelty in markets and messaging, ability to custom order, etc.
  • The decades next fashion leaders will redefine service with new advancements in ease of returns, alterations, packaging/boxing, personalization, convenience for finding the right products at the right time, etc.
  • On-demand goods will explode as consumers become able to pay for goods and 3D print them at home as soon as they want.
  • Consumers will become accustomed to shopping using 3D CAD imagery. This will lead to on-demand product creation where consumers shop before a single sample has ever been created.
Team MakerSights

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