International travel and a return to the office may still be uncertain, but that’s not keeping people from getting dressed up.
Women are saying yes to the dress. The garment has become one emblem of the post-lockdown consumer, as economies slowly reopen in places like the U.S. and U.K.
And dressier clothing is just the start of what may be a “great rotation” in consumer spending. At the end of last year, we argued that a vaccine-driven economic recovery would shift what people buy — they’d order less leisure wear and buy fewer cushions, but put more money toward champagne, suits and experiences. In categories like fashion and cosmetics, this shift is indeed happening; however, other areas like dining, travel and big events have yet to really get going.
Until trips to offices and sunny climes pick up again, retailers and manufacturers will have to manage this sputtering recovery and deal with levels of demand that may be much more, or much less, than they expected.
Urban Outfitters Inc. was the first to signal the return to dressing up. It said that at its Anthropologie brand in the last week of February, seven of its 10 best-selling online items were dresses. Over the previous year, one or two dresses at most would have made the top 10.