he traditional fashion calendar is changing and like in many other aspects of our lives, over the past couple years, the fashion industry needed a reset. The conventional fashion cycle has generally seen new product launches be centered around the seasons (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.)
This merchandising calendar provided a clear outline for manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers on when to produce, sell and buy the latest collections. Over the past two years, though, we’ve started seeing a shift towards "seasonless fashion."
A couple things come into play, when defining what seasonless fashion is. One is that new product launches aren’t only dropping at the start of each season, but rather, throughout the entire year. Also, fashion designers are forecasting color palettes that they intend to use throughout the year vs. switching to new ones every season.
"Retailers and brands that have been able to quickly pivot to a seasonless fashion strategy (i.e., they have attractive inventory available to put into the market to meet demand), have increased customer conversions, built a more fortified, loyal customers, and achieved higher margins.” - Karla Martin & Scott LaBoda of Deloitte Consulting, featured in the WSJ
So, whereas retail companies may have only come out with a new collection for the Fall/Winter and another for the Spring/Summer seasons, now, they might release new collections multiple times a year, using the same color palette. This presents brands and retailers with the opportunity to meet demand at any given time, rather than relying on traditional seasonal cycles.
Brands are now leaning more into their core aesthetic and messaging—producing more tried-and-true silhouettes vs. experimenting with new ones. Collections are becoming more minimalistic, relying less on wild prints to help them stand out, and instead, focusing on colors that can be worn throughout all seasons.
Why did this shift happen?
Four major factors caused this shift—
Companies learned to pivot during the pandemic
Given that many retailers were forced to hold back entire seasonal collections due to supply chain disruptions and store closures, many asked themselves if a seasonal strategy was right way to think about their business now. They started to move towards a more fluid product development process, bringing in products where inventory was available no matter the season.
The demand for more sustainable practices in the fashion industry and the move away from fast-fashion caused brands to rethink their merchandising strategy. They are focusing more on the core branding and offering products made with more sustainable materials – pushing less quantity and more overall quality instead. High-quality pieces that can be worn in multiple ways are now the first choice of consumers, as these pieces are often timeless and made better.
Working from home
The comfy lifestyle has transitioned from weekend attire to everyday life. People are wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants all year round. Athleisure is bigger-than-everand current trends are leaning towards a more comfort-driven fashion approach.
The steady increase of online shopping
Now more than ever, consumers are buying apparel online. Before you wouldn’t be able to buy that swimsuit or winter coat until the beginning of a new season but now consumers are becoming used to being able to buy product all year round – the seasonality is blurred.
The rules of fashion have changed.
Some rules are meant to be broken--No white pants after Labor Day; don’t pair brown with black; stay away from mixing prints; match your belt with your shoes. These are just a few of the outdated fashion rules that no longer apply in modern society. And, now you can add “only wearing and buying according to the seasons” to that list too.
Colors are going seasonless.
Bright colors are starting to be worn in the winter and autumn hues are now being worn in the summer. Fleece is also having a major pastel moment and colors like copper, as well as other shades of brown, are being seen on swimwear, along with other warm weather apparel.
Also, the emotional quality of color is more impactful than ever before, with people wanting to wear colors that make them not only look good, but feel good as well. Because happiness has no season, consumers want to wear colors that are cheerful, soothing, fun and will boost their moods, no matter what time of the year it is.
What does seasonless apparel offer you?
Now that we've gone over the trend, let's take a closer look at how this could benefit you:
Because now you don’t have to worry as much about buying/selling certain products at specific times of the year, seasonless fashion gives distributors the ability to open up their playbook a little more and offer unique product assortments that might not have been acceptable, during certain seasons in the past.
For lifestyle brands, it’s now easier to create a dependable core product line that your customers know and love, with the expanded seasonless color palettes. There’s also more wiggle room to surprise them with unique product drops detached of your normal fashion seasons, instead of waiting for the beginning of a new season to release them.
With the worldwide supply chain issues continuing to create problems with inventory, this seasonless trend gives you more flexibility to think outside-the-box in a pinch.
Your clients will get apparel that is more likely to be worn all year-round, increasing their branding impressions.
It gives your clients more incentive to buy long-lasting premium products, which is great for your bottom-line.
Sustainable clients will appreciate seasonless fashion, because it helps keep apparel stay in closets longer, and away from landfills.
Seasonless trends to look out for.
These muted colors aren’t just being worn in the spring anymore. Pastels are being seen on sweatshirts, sweatpants, jackets and don’t even get me started on the pastel "matching fleece" craze. These are EVERYWHERE.
These hues are typically only seen in the Fall, but now they're even being showcased on your typical summer gear in everything from tees to swimwear.
Flannels were always a fall essential. Now with the craze of shackets, you can buy flannel all year around. They can be pair with shorts or jeans and are worn all year round.
Comfy + Cozy Options
Whether your working from home or lounging around. These comfy items are being worn all year round. Over the past two years, comfort has become a top priority in the way people dress.
Crop tops have been increasing in popularity for years, but now they're being seen all year round. Pair them with joggers and a jacket in the winter or with shorts/leggings in the summer.
Is the future of seasonal collections over?
No not entirely. There’s still room for the traditional fashion calendar in the market--the excitement of a large seasonal product launch is something familiar and something that consumers and retailers still want. A seasonless fashion strategy simply introduces and gives more freedom to anyone in the apparel market.
It’s allowing them to meet demand at any given time rather than relying on traditional merchandising cycles. It’s letting fashion be more fluid, timeless, more sustainable and lending to higher quality products overall. It’s showing that a trend won’t simply be hot one moment on TikTok and "cheugy" three days later.