Fashion’s Multi-Billion Dollar Opportunity in Travel
The rise in global mobility is fuelling a shift in luxury buying habits.
It’s no secret that fashion is moving towards a seasonless model. Once clearly divided into four major seasons — Spring/Summer, Resort, Autumn/Winter and Pre-Fall — the traditional fashion calendar is constantly being disrupted by new models such as "see-now buy-now" as well as the addition of untimely capsule collections.
Now, a spike in global mobility is driving new opportunities for the industry, as consumers are increasingly travelling for both work and leisure. According to a 2018 report by data analytics firm, Edited, Millennials currently spend more than USD$200 billion on travel annually, with an average yearly spend of USD$4,594 on holidays alone.
Lorna Hennelly, beauty and fashion analyst at market research firm, Euromonitor International, suggests that young consumers, in particular, are spending more on experiences and international travel due to the rise of social media and its pervasiveness in every aspect of their lives.
“Even whilst on vacation, consumers feel compelled to stay connected to their peers by maintaining their online presence and enhancing how their travel experience looks to their followers,” says Hennelly. This presents significant commercial opportunities for brands as consumers are likely to spend on holiday wardrobes to complete the experience. Hennelly continues: “As consumers gravitate towards social media for both travel and style inspiration, those who focus their business around vacation dressing will reap rewards.”
“As consumers gravitate towards social media for both travel and style inspiration those who focus their business around vacation dressing will reap rewards.”
A number of brands and retailers are now aligning their product selection with this lifestyle shift, especially in the accessories sector. According to Edited’s report, 2018’s must-have accessory — the bum bag — lifted 120 percent in new arrivals, with sellouts growing 359 percent since 2017. Leading brands like Gucci and Balenciaga have come out with their own versions of the ‘90s accessory, with other luxury houses branching into variations like the more sophisticated belt bag.
In June 2018, travel brand Rimowa launched a line of perspex travel cases in collaboration with streetwear authority, Off-White. Directed towards millennial consumers, the collection cleverly encapsulates two of this season’s leading trends: travel and transparent accessories.
Accessories aside, the global swimwear market is growing significantly and is also becoming seasonless; Hennelly states that the category is currently worth USD $20.8 billion and is set to reach USD$22.7 billion by 2022. “Social media is increasingly fueling off-season swimwear purchases, with beach and summertime posts taking over Instagram all year round.”
One-piece swimsuits, in particular, are in high demand as they have the appeal of easily transitioning off the beach. According to Edited, new one-piece arrivals grew nine percent this year, whilst bikinis fell by nearly seven percent. “What consumers wear on the beach is no longer just about the weather, they want their whole look to be on-trend and aspirational,” Hennelly adds.
Established luxury houses have been tapping the trend in recent years: Versace launched its beachwear line in 2013; Stella McCartney launched a swimwear line in 2016; and in June 2018, Chanel launched its first dedicated swim collection, Coco Beach. Lesser-known labels, like Dion Lee, have also expanded into the category – debuting a sports-infused swimwear range for Resort ‘16.
This demand has also given rise to a new generation of speciality luxury swimwear labels like Sydney-based Matteau, characterised by clean lines and minimal shapes, and Mei L’ange, a New York-based brand focusing on asymmetric silhouettes and unusual details.
“Whereas vacation wear was once limited to swimwear and beach cover-ups, now a retailer’s offering must encapsulate a full head-to-toe holiday wardrobe.”
In addition to the swim sector, Hennelly suggests there are opportunities for other destination wear categories: “Whereas vacation wear was once limited to swimwear and beach cover-ups, now a retailer’s offering must encapsulate a full head-to-toe holiday wardrobe.”
A new wave of luxury labels are now offering a wide range of product categories to cater to consumer’s entire vacation needs. London-based label, Three Graces, designs fluid beachwear and sleepwear ranges on top of swimwear, whilst Athens-based brand, Zeus and Dione cover a varieties of beachwear as part of their offerings (apparel, footwear, bags, sunglasses and jewellery).
Even retailers are finding value in the trend, dedicating floor spaces to holiday focused pop-ups and capsule collections — see Belma Gaudio’s vacation-inspired pop-up shop, Koi Bird. Hennelly sums up: “Resortwear clothing appeals to consumers as it is versatile enough to be worn on a warm day in the city, as well as on the beach, and most importantly, price points can often be more competitive.”