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For most of us who found ourselves suddenly working from home in March last year, 2020 marked a dramatic transformation of our daily wardrobes. We replaced slacks with sweatpants, banished uncomfortable shoes, and watched as our accessories gathered dust. The unforeseen, 180-degree upheaval of consumers’ needs impacted the fashion ecommerce industry heavily, with many brands pivoting to face masks and comfort-based apparel just to stay afloat. 

Fast forward to 2021: As more Americans get vaccinated and brick-and-mortar businesses reopen, the end of the pandemic is in sight. After being cooped up for so long, will shoppers continue to opt for pajamas and athleisure, or will we see massive shopping sprees for shirts, blazers, and gowns? Will shoppers sprint to physical stores and try on new clothes, or continue to online shop from the comfort of their own homes? 

Lucky for you, we’ve got the answers: Here is the ultimate guide to 2021 fashion ecommerce trends. Use this report to prepare your inventory, operations, and marketing, so you can exceed customer expectations and grow your brand in the months ahead. 

In this report:
Mobile Shopping = Yes, Please!
Sweatpants Forever?
Everyone Is Beautiful
Sustainability Makes the World Go Round
Make a Statement
Email Marketing Is Here to Stay
Hello, Social Shopping!
The Ultimate Timesaver? Personalized Shopping
New Year, New Styles

The 2020 Throwback

Most retailers faced an unprecedented number of challenges in 2020 marked by shifting consumer behaviors, logistical hurdles, and shuttered storefronts. Brands were forced to throw out their plans for the year and quickly rethink their marketing, fulfillment, distribution, and sales strategies. 

With physical stores closed, ecommerce exploded in popularity, making it even more difficult for brands to grab attention. To stand out from the crowd, 78% of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands increased their marketing budget in May 2020. Marketers had to find new ways to attract and connect with customers, whether by hosting community events on Zoom or creating TikTok challenges

The fashion industry — which encompasses everything from footwear to jewelry — was not spared. During the first wave of COVID-19 shutdowns last year, consumers immediately tightened their purse strings by eliminating unnecessary purchases, which included new clothes and accessories. However, although a McKinsey study found that over 60 percent of consumers reduced their fashion spend, ecommerce fashion brands who used the right mix of digital channels and targeting scored big. In just eight months, ecommerce’s share of fashion sales nearly doubled from 16 to 29% of total global revenue.

2021 Fashion Ecommerce Trends

The year 2021 has all the potential to be a fantastic time for the fashion industry. Ecommerce trends cemented in the pandemic will likely accelerate, online shopping will continue to reign supreme, and consumers will be keen to discover new brands. Here’s what’s in store:  

Mobile Shopping = Yes, Please!

Since we began staying home last March, there has been a 20% increase in the time people spend on mobile apps. That’s exciting news for fashion brands with mobile shopping apps — studies show that the amount of time a user spends in a mobile shopping app correlates strongly with total retail sales (both online and in-person). In other words, not only are people using their mobile devices to shop, but they’re also engaging more with mobile experiences in a way that supports their buying journey.  

Key takeaways:

  • Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices
  • If you don’t have a mobile app, consider developing one.
  • Enhance your mobile app experience by building loyalty programs, in-store pickup codes, and package trackers — anything to make your app a useful, all-in-one shopping powerhouse. 

Sweatpants Forever?

If you’re one of the many Americans working from home, you’ve probably been living in sweatpants for over a year. An analysis of more than 16,000 retailers found that loungewear was, unsurprisingly, the most popular “lockdown clothing” vertical — this category saw consumer demand increase by 433% compared to the year prior. 

eMarketer

Source

This major shift to loungewear will have lingering implications not just in 2021 but for years to come — in fact, the loungewear and sleepwear market is poised to grow by $19.5 billion between 2020 to 2024. (This is partially driven by an explosion of designer options.)

Though shoppers probably won’t wear loungewear forever, comfort and versatility will likely remain persistent fashion ecommerce trends and important consideration factors for their future purchases, especially as the lines between work and home continue to blur. 

Key takeaways: 

  • If your fashion ecommerce brand doesn’t sell loungewear, pajamas, athleisure, or leisurewear, don’t worry — soft tees, flowy dresses, or stretchy jeans will do the trick. Make sure you prominently feature “casual and comfy” attributes in product pages. 
  • In your marketing materials, acknowledge that consumers are prioritizing comfort. If possible, use soft and cozy imagery to support the copy. 

Everyone Is Beautiful

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And even though fashion brands have historically influenced the way Americans — particularly women — perceive beauty, this has changed in recent years. Gone are the days where fashion ads and runways only feature lanky, tall, white women. Instead, brands have started to embrace authentic, diverse, non-Photoshopped bodies that accurately reflect what the country looks like. (Did you know that 68% of American women are a size 14 or above?) This has coincided with the plus-size fashion market’s meteoric rise, worth around $31.9 billion in 2020

Key takeaways:

  • If your product line is limited to a specific type of body, it’s time to make it more size-inclusive. 
  • Diversity in your marketing materials is no longer an option but a necessity (and good business!). About 64% of consumers will take action after seeing an ad they consider to be diverse or inclusive — this includes skin color, size, and disability. 

Sustainability Makes the World Go Round

Climate change has been a hot topic for quite some time now, but especially so in 2020 when we saw record-breaking weather events. It became clear that the textiles industry, which has a negative carbon impact larger than that of the airline and maritime industries combined, must change its practices to reduce its environmental impacts. 

fashion ecommerce trends photo

Source

In 2021, we expect an environmental awakening for both the fashion industry and individual consumers. A survey conducted by McKinsey in April 2020 found that between 63 to 67 percent of consumers consider a brand’s stance on sustainability and use of sustainable materials as key factors in their purchasing decisions. Among younger shoppers, interest in thrifted clothing is also skyrocketing, with approximately 50 percent of Gen Zers and millennials actively seeking out secondhand items to purchase rather than buying new. 

Key takeaways:

  • Choose sustainable materials whenever possible. If your products are made from recycled textiles, or if your production methods are innovative in reducing waste, feature this information loudly and proudly. Even better, make sustainability a cornerstone of your brand identity. 
  • You can’t market a shabby product — not in the age of Yelp and Google My Business. Your products must be durable and robust. You can even create content or offer services related to product care and repair if and when items get damaged or worn out. 
  • Think of creative campaigns or even business models that can help eliminate waste. For example, AdRoll customer For Days pioneered a T-shirt subscription model where customers can pay for a number of new shirts a month. Once the shirts are worn out, customers can exchange them for new ones, and the old shirts are then upcycled into a new product. 

Make a Statement

The late Elizabeth Taylor once said, “Jewelry has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.” This quote is more relevant than ever in the Zoom era, where a super-easy way to look and feel put together is to slap on a piece of statement jewelry. In the last few months, searches for jewelry have increased by 28%, while searches for statement necklaces, in particular, spiked by 70%. (Going bold and bright distracts from the unbrushed hair and messy living room backgrounds, amirite?)

fashion ecommerce trends photo

Thanks to this fashion ecommerce trend, Payton Jewelry, an AdRoll customer, saw huge growth last year.

In 2021, we’ll see statement jewelry continue to be one of the most popular fashion ecommerce trends, whether it’s oversized drop earrings, chokers, bright pendants, or even jeweled headbands. And as we begin meeting up with our friends and family again post-pandemic, these accessories will remain relevant finishing touches for any outfit. After all, looking good means feeling good. 

Key takeaways: 

  • If your ecommerce fashion brand includes a statement jewelry collection, feature them prominently on your homepage and marketing materials. 
  • Create content on how to jazz up different outfits with accessories, complete with a lookbook of images. 

Email Marketing Is Here to Stay

Has your email inbox been filling up with more promotional newsletters than ever before? That’s because email marketing is now one of the most effective ways to generate revenue — for every $1 spent, the return is close to $42.                

But don’t start firing off emails just yet. Sure, you’ve got a great tool to connect with customers — but remember: every brand realizes this, which means the challenge to grab attention is at an all-time high. The average office worker receives an astounding 100 emails a day, and unsurprisingly, they’re devoting less time to reading them. Emails must stand out to even stand a chance of being opened. 

Key takeaways:

  • To ensure your emails have the highest chance of being read, consider personalizing subject lines (they generate a 50% higher open rate). But make note: Personalization isn’t just about adding your customer’s name to a subject line. Take it a step further and target customers based on their past purchases, site visits, or specific items they’ve shown an interest in. If this sounds stressful to manage, don’t worry — this can all be easily automated
  • If you’re using email marketing to reduce abandoned carts, note that sending just one follow-up email is not enough. Studies show that sending three emails, compared to only one, will result in 69% more orders, as customers appreciate the extra reminder. 

Hello, Social Shopping!

Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are no longer channels that you can halfheartedly post to occasionally. Pandemic-driven fashion ecommerce trends have accelerated the growth of social shopping, and platforms have responded accordingly by expanding their shopping and checkout capabilities. In fact, experts forecast that U.S. social commerce sales will rise by 34.8% to $36.9 billion this year, representing over 4% of all ecommerce sales. 

fashion ecommerce trends photo

An example of Instagram’s social shopping interface. Source

Key takeaways:

  • It’s time to develop a comprehensive social media strategy
  • Integrate your ecommerce store with your social media pages, so your followers can buy directly from your pages if they see something they like. 
  • Don’t forget: Your social media content shouldn’t just be about selling products. Use it to share your mission or purpose as well as entertain, educate, and build a community around your brand attributes — all of which will ultimately contribute to driving brand awareness. 

The Ultimate Timesaver? Personalized Shopping

If you’ve ever shopped from an ecommerce retailer with an extensive product catalog, you’re likely familiar with the annoyance of scrolling through products one by one. That’s where personalization comes to the rescue. 

Personalization programs are proven marketing tools that encourage higher conversion rates and greater customer satisfaction. Who doesn’t want a more engaging and relevant shopping experience?

Key takeaways: 

  • Use personalization to display relevant product recommendations based on what shoppers have already clicked on or have purchased previously. 
  • Add a pop-up questionnaire to your homepage that asks shoppers about their body type or favorite styles, so you can offer personalized guides with product recommendations that reflect the latest fashion ecommerce trends. 
  • Personalize product pages based on location — promote coats for a region that’s snowing versus swimwear for a warm and sunny state. 

New Year, New Styles

Beyond setting styles and trends, the fashion ecommerce industry continues to lead the digital world in 2021, too. As consumers’ clothing needs, desires, and expectations change, brands must future-proof their businesses for the significant changes ahead.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Breathe. If you’re looking for a partner to support your brand as you navigate these 2021 fashion ecommerce trends, we’re here for you. AdRoll combines AI with data to help fashion ecommerce brands surprise and delight shoppers who are most likely to become loyal customers. Whether you need ads, emails, or advanced personalization targeting, we can help you reach your audience at every touchpoint of their journey. Learn more here.

Author

Chelsea is the Sr. Product Marketing Manager focusing on Voice of Customer at AdRoll. She uncovers customer insights and stories and shares them across the company. Chelsea started an ecommerce accessories business in her teens which sparked a love of helping other merchants grow their businesses. Outside of work, she loves Ikea hacking, making Italian cocktails and meals, and hiking.