In its inaugural Style Forecast report, Stitch Fix predicted continued growth in athleisure and the emergence of the “business comfort” workwear category that combines athleisure with a “polish” look often associated with traditional workwear.

The report used the company’s sales and shopping insights from 4.2 million clients and “thousands of Stitch Fix stylists” combined with consumer surveys and industry data to compile the data.

Overall, the company said active and athleisure remain its fastest-growing categories across men’s and women’s, with everyday lifestyle apparel, including woven bottoms and fleeces trending upward.

Athleisure Sees Fastest Growth
“Nearly two years into the pandemic, athleisure and activewear are still seeing impressive growth. When it comes to athleisure, our fastest-growing category, versatility is the name of the game. Clients favor pieces at the intersection of comfort, style and active technical support. Fitting these pieces into their daily lives is key, whether that’s lounging at home, taking kids to the park or catching a flight,” said the report.

In women’s, trending items in athleisure for the company include stretch woven bottoms, jumpsuits and fleece. In men’s, trending athleisure styles include joggers/sweatpants, fleece, and retro sneakers.

“Polar fleeces in 90s style color blocks are poised to be a super trend in 2022. Men’s sneakers in particular are having a moment, with our sales growing nearly 80 percent year-over-year. Bright white and colorful sneakers are hot, with top-performing brands including Adidas, New Balance, Vans, and Nike,” said Stitch Fix.

The report noted that performance-driven activewear is doing well, with women’s sales growing over 300 percent year-over-year and men’s running up 100 percent. Stitch Fix noted, “Perhaps, as a result of people spending more time outdoors during the pandemic, apparel, associated with sports and activities like tennis, golf and hiking, are trending.”

In the activewear category, trending styles for women include skirts & skorts, logo wear and bike shorts. In men’s, trending activewear styles include hiking shorts, golf shorts and performance polos.

Athleisure Driving Boys 
In kids, company sales in the boy’s category are driven largely by activewear and athleisure. Key national brands including Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Vans, The North Face, and Hurley have outperformed among tween boys.

Stitch Fix said of the athleisure appeal around boys, “This healthy category, bridging the divide between playwear/cozy and true active, represents roughly a third of our overall boy’s business. We expect this momentum to continue into 2022.

Girls are opting for skirts and sweaters as they have gravitated toward dressier styles. Stitch Fix noted its skirts inventory grew 46 percent year-over-year with tiered, A-line and pleated varsity-inspired styling leading the category. Girl’s sweaters grew 55 percent for the company compared to 2020. Tie-dye was described by Stitch Fix as “becoming an emblem of pandemic fashion” among girls, although requests in the fall declined 30 percent, suggesting 2022 could likely bring new dye and wash effects.

Overall among kids, outdoor styling is on an upward trend. Stitch Fix wrote, “While still in its early stages, signs point to healthy growth for outdoor wear like flannels, sherpa and polar fleece layering, puffers, and shackets.”

Coordinated looks have also been important to kids with almost 80 percent of them asking for it, with 20 percent requesting a head-to-toe matched outfit and another 60 percent requesting pieces that pair well together.

Workwear Evolving To Business Comfort
In workwear, Stitch Fix has seen a trend shifting away from business casual to business comfort, featuring stretchy blazers, knoven (knit + woven) tops and elastic-waist bottoms.

This October, Stitch Fix said requests for “back to office” and “back to work” were up 39 percent from the same period in 2020 as offices re-open and vaccination rates rise

In a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Stitch Fix, however, 71 percent of consumers said striking a balance between style and comfort is more important now than before COVID-19. The vast majority of consumers (91 percent) agreed that professional working clothes do not have to be uncomfortable to look good.

Said Stitch Fix, “After a year-plus of lounging in work-from-home favorites like leggings and hoodies, however, people have sworn off the stiff workwear of years past.”

To support the statement, the survey showed that almost one-third (31 percent) of respondents would rather take a ten percent pay cut than dress up for work, and 77 percent of respondents said they had sworn off at least some business clothes for good. Forty-five percent of respondents said they would never wear a business suit again, including 55 percent of Boomer respondents. Thirty-one percent said they planned not to wear button-down shirts, and the same 31 percent would no longer wear dress pants.

For women, Stitch Fix said in the business comfort category, styles trending include soft, oversized/boyfriend-fit blazers, sweater dresses, elastic-waist bottoms, sweater tanks, and fly knit flats. In men’s, the major business comfort style trend are polos. Polos in performance fabrics are a favorite, representing about half of polo sales across the company’s platform in 2022, up from about a quarter of polo sales last year. Other men’s business comfort trends that have risen in popularity include stretch long-sleeved knoven tops, commuter pants (fabric with four-way stretch/performance properties), hybrid chukkas and oxfords, and knit blazers.

Other trends in its Style Forecast Report include:

  • Bold colors and patterns — The company predicted Magenta would be its Color of the Year, with mint, mustard and purple also popular for women. For men it would be dusty lavender, dark green and coral. Color block, checks, and graphics are among its most popular patterns.
  • Jeans —  Evidenced by a surge in Stitch Fix client requests and sales, its customers are turning to more relaxed fits with wide-leg sales up 70 percent year-over-year over skinny jeans.
  • Dress-up — According to a December 2021 survey from Coresight Research compiled for Stitch Fix, 44 percent of consumers plan to replace their going-out clothes, including 61 percent of Gen-Z respondents, as demand for special occasion clothes and high heels surge on Stitch Fix.

To read the report, go here.

Photo courtesy The Guardian