Bricks-and-mortar retail has been steadily losing ground to ecommerce since its inception, but COVID-19 accelerated that trend. As foot traffic on the high street decreases over time, local shops are looking for alternative solutions to compete with the convenience and diversity of merchandise offered by online shopping.
One opportunity has begun to present itself. As lockdown restrictions ease, there is a huge amount of desire among consumers to go back to “normal,” part of which is spending time shopping, for fun, in physical shops. Indeed, “people are daring to dream again,” said Andrew Keith, Selfridges’ managing director. “It’s our job to make the world brighter through everything our stores and our digital channels have to offer.”
Among other strategies, like moving to digital channels such as video conferences, and offering convenience in the form of curbside pickup, physical stores are stocking timeless looks instead of the trendier options that make up fast fashion cycles. This is partially to make the most of every potential visitor and the possible upcoming swell in foot traffic, as well as to meet the latest fashion trend – less reliance on trends.
Seasonality is going out of style, as consumers choose pieces that will look good now and in five years’ time.
The more timeless a piece is, the more likely it will appeal to a broad group of shoppers, and the more likely they are to purchase. High street shops are investing in that opportunity.
What is a timeless trend?
For those hoping to jump on the timeless and non-trend trend, retailers should aim for two things: items that are multipurpose and that have proven to have demand through the decades.
A great example of a time-proof trend is a pair of large, round glasses. The history of that fashion staple is fascinating, ranging back to the 13th century, and it’s still very much in style through the 20th century to today.
Culture Whisper interviewed style titans Laura Fantacci and Petro Stofberg, editors of Wardrobe Icon, on how they build wardrobes that are sustainable and trend-proof. “I wanted to build an intelligent wardrobe, with things that I wanted to wear time and time again,” Fantacci told writer Eleanore Dresch.
“Carolina Bucci hoops are timeless, and will always be chic and stylish but also a bit different,” added Stofberg.
While today, luxury brands like Hermes and Louis Vitton have the corner on the timeless market with always-fashionable bags, scarves, and shoes, any clothing brand can offer perpetual classics.
“Timeless fashion does not only refer to specific items or pieces, but timeless fashion trends themselves,” wrote Yulia Omelich in Codo Girl blog, a publication dedicated to sustainable fashion and designer resale. “Floral prints, neutral tones, blazers, and black caviar leather handbags – these timeless styles have always been trendy and show no signs of becoming dated.”
Who is embracing vintage?
Among a certain set of consumers, vintage and “old fashioned” styles have always been desirable. But today, consumer demand for timeless styles is growing due to two key reasons.
Firstly, research shows that awareness of the cost of fast fashion on the environment is growing among U.K. consumers, causing shoppers to choose pieces that have a longer lifespan than single-season trendy pieces.
Secondly, COVID has caused a real economic impact on a huge part of the population of the U.K. Barclays Bank reports that consumers are spending less and saving more. Consumers are more careful about buying only that which is necessary and useful, and trendy pieces don’t fit that brief.
To meet customer demand, many shops have opted for timeless, multifunctional pieces. Even mega-retailers like Asda have embraced vintage and second-hand shopping trends, offering retro and vintage styles. The shopping giant wanted to offer customers the chance to “buy vintage, retro and second-hand branded pieces, preventing thousands of tonnes of garments going to landfill each year,” according to a statement Asda made to the BBC.
Making the most of ongoing consumer patterns
This summer and autumn, consumers will be entering their favorite clothing stores once again. In an attempt to win people back from their new ecommerce loyalties, retailers are maximising the opportunities to make any sale they can, leaning towards timeless looks that are likely to appeal to a broad group of shoppers, and to meet the growing demand for sustainable, long-lasting clothing options.
Many shops are leaning into this trend, offering clothing in styles that have weathered the decades as well as offering secondhand and vintage options to fashion-conscious consumers. Though the effects of COVID accelerated the growth of the ecommerce retail market, local shops are effectively maintaining a hold on revenue through a variety of ingenious methods. Stocking timeless looks is just one of the potential weapons in the arsenal of bricks-and-mortar retail to capitalise on foot traffic.
As consumers venture back onto the high street post lockdown, shops are ignoring seasonality and trends in favor of meeting customer demand for looks that will be fashionable now and forever.
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