2021 predictions for consumer fashion shopping trends

January 6, 2021
Shopping cart full of fashion shopping bags

The past year has caused radical shifts across the entire spectrum of consumer habits. Even against this landscape of dramatic transformation, the ways in which we buy, wear, and think about clothing have perhaps seen some of the biggest changes.

Getting dressed in the morning becomes a different proposition when you have nowhere to go. Over the past year, comfort has become more important than ever and sales of workwear and party clothes have fallen off a cliff. Consumers are also signalling that the pandemic has caused profound shifts in more than just their spending; it seems that longer-term shifts in mindset are happening as well.

We wanted to dig into what has changed for consumers this year around clothing shopping habits and mindset, so we surveyed 500 consumers to find out. The results are fascinating. As we all know, consumer spending in general, and spending on clothing, is down across the board and consumers are doing more of their shopping than ever before online. But other findings were more surprising. For example, the youngest consumers are not the most likely to do their clothing shopping online. And even if it can be broadly anticipated that things will start to return to “normal” at some point in 2021, consumers say they still plan to buy fewer clothes this year. 

Here are some of our key findings for what consumer shopping trends will look like in 2021: 

  1. More mindful shopping

Respondents to our survey reported that in 2021, they plan to buy fewer clothes and that they intend to invest in more expensive items. These plans signal a shift to a slower, more mindful way of shopping for clothing. 

  1. A continued shift to e-commerce

In 2020, consumers shifted a huge percentage of their clothing consumption online. By some estimates, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by as much as five years - and this will not be a temporary shift. 

  1. Greater focus on sustainability and ethical labour

When asked what they want to see brands doing differently in 2021, 86% of respondents said they would like to see brands focus more on sustainability and / or ethical labour practices. In fact, increased attention to sustainability was pervasive across many of the survey responses. Many consumers have had time to think about sustainability more over the past year, and this is translating into changes in the way they think about shopping.

  1. A desire to be listened to by brands

In the current moment, consumers have high expectations of fashion brands, and they want to be heard. When we asked what they want to see brands doing differently in 2021, “listening to customers more” was in the top three answers. It has never been more important for brands to learn how to tap into what their customers are thinking and quickly respond.

For the rest of the findings about how consumers changed their shopping habits over the past year and their plans for how they will shop in 2021, you can check out the full report here

2021 predictions for consumer fashion shopping trends
Lindsay Trombley
Wovn Cofounder