The year’s most highly anticipated sneaker collab was arguably the Air Jordan 1 OG Dior, a pricey, coveted limited-edition sneaker released this summer as part of a megawatt partnership between Nike and Dior. Luxury and scarcity are clearly still very sexy and enticing to the well-to-do fashion-inclined consumer, but amid the COVID-19 economic decline, the vast majority of consumers who have considerably less discretionary income this year are pinching pennies where they can.
All dressed up with nowhere to go – except a Zoom virtual meeting – most consumers in 2020 are leaning comfortably (see what I did there?) into casualwear, loungewear, athleisure and good old-fashioned PJs. With recent closures of men’s fine clothing retailer Brooks Brothers and bankruptcies of high-end powerhouse department stores like Neiman Marcus, the quarantined jury has spoken – and it wants to be cozy.
For those in the apparel and footwear category who have recognized this continued collective preference to dress for comfort, opportunity abounds. According to Licensing International’s Sixth Annual Global Licensing Survey, in 2019, the apparel vertical accounted for 15.1 percent of the $292.8 billion in global sales revenue of licensed merchandise and services.
Fashion accessories, specifically, accounted for 11.9 percent of the market share. Both apparel and accessories showed significant growth in 2019, up 5.1 percent and 8.0 percent year-over-year, respectively.
Despite impressive 2019 gains via licensing, the apparel industry was one of the hardest hit general merchandise categories in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The NPD Group, the industry suffered year-over-year losses nearing 45 percent in the three months ending in May.
A saving grace for the apparel industry in 2020, however, was e-commerce, as shoppers were either unable or apprehensive to shop for apparel in person.
“In early June, U.S. consumers told The NPD Group that more than half of their planned apparel purchases for the next two weeks would be made online, according to insights from the new Future of Apparel report,” reports The NPD Group. “This is supported by NPD’s Checkout receipt harvesting research, which showed online purchase activity across key softlines channels holding steady at 50 percent above pre-COVID-19 levels in the first half of June, even as store activity increased.”