In this report, we chronicle the looks, choices, biases and brands that characterize online apparel in 2019.

Our goal is to build a “time capsule” that captures the state of clothing in our times, not from the perspective of haute couture, but through the lens of average consumers and the businesses that serve them.

The insights gathered here are primarily based on a statistical analysis of structured attribute data from about 95 million products across 1000s of stores across the ecommerce web in the USA. This data was gathered by crawling these stores and cleaning, enhancing and normalizing the product data gathered.

You can download a PDF version of this report by clicking here

Chronicling the early 21st century look

Most apparel is either black or white ...

... made of cotton, polyester and leather ...

... patterns ...

... characterized by a few dominant styles ...

... and fit types

Full picture, the average American in 2019 wears ...

  • White plaid or striped button-down cotton shirts
  • or black classic cotton t-shirts
  • with classic black cotton or polyester pants
  • and black leather shoes that fit true to size
Image Source: Styloholic

But what if you’re not “average”? What choices do you have?

Unsurprisingly, most apparel is catered to women

But choice is limited for women who are plus-sized

Choice gaps on the size spectrum are significant

Across all types of brands

Even though obesity is equally prevalent across genders

Source: NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Gender dynamics are skewed with regards to price too

Most brands charge higher prices for women’s apparel than they do for men’s

Let’s take a closer look at the business of selling apparel

Half of all products sold online are apparel; consumers are spoilt for choice ...

… by the 200,000+ brands in the market

A majority of whom carry less than a 100 unique products

How do brands differentiate themselves?

Upon clustering our catalog, we found a few distinct pockets of retail online:

  • Luxury Brands (Gucci, Prada)
  • Fast Fashion (Zara, H&M)
  • Sports Brands (Nike, Puma)
  • Celebrity Brands (Fenty, KendallKylie)
  • D2C Brands (Allbirds, Everlane)

Each group was characterized by its unique set of attributes, and language used to market its products.

Luxury labels target the premium segment

While Fast Fashion aims to be trendy but affordable

Each has its distinct supply chain dynamics

Top 5 countries mentioned in “Made in” labels

Sports brands play a different game - that of heavy marketing & endorsements

How do you compete with premium labels, optimized supply chains and large marketing budgets?

Enter stage left, a new generation of social media savvy businesses

The hip kids on the block

Celebrity brands capitalize on the popularity, influence and, increasingly, social media nous of celebrities.

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands sell their products directly to customers, often on the back of unique marketing strategies.

How else are these brands different?

Small Catalog Sizes: ~7000 products on an average.

Niche Focus: Catalogs span < 2 categories per brand on an average.

Platform Preferences: Greater presence on Instagram than the average brand.

Are these the businesses of the future?

Based on current trends, here’s what we foresee:

  • We detected 200,000 brands in this catalog; this number is only going to go up as the barriers for setting up new brands and stores drop.
  • As a result, more niches will be catered to, potentially eliminating some of the biases visited in this report.
  • Consumers and indie brands will have a greater say in shaping what colors, patterns and styles go mainstream.
  • Marketing will increasingly be viewed through the lens of tiers of influencers, with celebrities being considered the largest cohort of macro influencers.

About Semantics3

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