Five Leading Retail Trends for SS18

With eight years experience working for top trend forecasting companies like WGSN, Stylesight, and Fashion Snoops, trends consultant Louise Stuart Trainor is an observer of socio-cultural change, with an inherent understanding of evolving consumer habits. Her proven track record in analysing and connecting a number of sectors offers a highly informed standpoint. Trainor breaks down the six leading consumer trends for SS18.

  1. Colour shifts

Colour is a major feature of the season. Strong colours are becoming more fluid throughout the seasons as the world becomes even more globalised through the Instagram phenomenon and travel. Trainor suggests that the fashion sector used to be more about exclusivity and enigma, which was often associated with a lot of black, however now bright colours are helping us all stand out online.

‘There’s a big conversation around GenZ yellow as a move on from Millennial pink. The younger generation feels that there’s something a little bit ironic about yellow, or that it ties in with the idea of the ‘ugly shoe’ and ugly clashing colours, which is something that is very much a youth trend.” As a non-binary shade, yellow is unconnected to gender or age, and as a loud and bold colour, stands out on digital platforms, making it a universal choice for all consumers this season.

  1. The Influencer is still key

The influencer continues to drive fashion trends and purchases; their role is undeniably still vital in the consumption of product. With a drop off in magazine readership, audiences are still looking to these global travelers and tastemakers for guidance. Moreover, as the first generation not to experience life without technology (and social media), digital exposure is having a major influence on millennials' broader expectations and behaviours.

Trainor explains that it’s about being more visible in the social media world and sharing their fashion endeavors with millions of followers: Instagram stories, in particular, are a new way of connecting with audiences. Stories portray a more realistic snapshot of daily life. What is yet to be quantified is how increased privacy restrictions will affect this influencer economy.

  1. The surge in micro influencers

There has been an implosion of Instagrammers with 100k + followers recently as brands recognise that very they are simply not getting much return on investment. The real tastemakers are doing it for love, not for paid partnerships. This also chimes with the idea that the evolution of the wellness trend is that we are allowing a little more imperfection in.

“Currently a micro influencer is someone who has around 10K followers,” Trainor states, adding “but actually I think we are looking more towards someone who has 1-2k followers. Seeing as these people are very connected to their audience, for retailers, it’s about having something that is much more genuine and not just pushing for greater numbers.”

“There’s a big conversation around GenZ yellow as a move on from Millennial pink. The younger generation feels that there’s something a little bit ironic about yellow”

  1. The Upside of Resale

The resale market is predicted to outstrip fast fashion within the next ten years, according to Trainor, who cites the uptake in platforms as apps like Depop, Vestiaire Collective, Thread Up and even Facebook Marketplace. Harrods' ‘Fashion Re-Told’ pop up, running until May 13, sees the luxury department store embracing the trend.

“People are beginning to understand the value of the products that they have,” the trend consultant suggests. “They are seeing the opportunity in being able to buy something, keep it for a while and then to sell it on. This market is growing so rapidly and this also makes way for the opportunity for embracing sustainability.” As consumers get increasingly more eco-conscious, and buy less, this is a trend brands are going to have to navigate carefully.

  1. Bridging the gap

Retailers are still working to bridge the gap between the physical and digital e-commerce, and, according to Trainor, more still needs to be done. Zara’s augmented reality app, launched this week, indicate that big shifts are on the way as retailers use tech to merge all consumer experiences.

“Brands are already getting quite clever about it, and working out how best they can use technology to merge those two areas together,” Trainor identifies. “It’s also something that needs to be done a little bit more creatively, like Zara’s app, just to keep the consumer excited.” Bridging that gap is potentially one of the most important things retailers can be focusing on this season, and beyond.