Mood is at an all-time low for the citizens around the globe currently grappling with the wide-sweeping effects of COVID-19. Social distancing and lock down orders have separated families, canceled celebrations, and exacerbated loneliness and anxiety. While high unemployment rates and an impending recession are causing many consumers to tighten their belts on spending, there still remains a value proposition for brands looking to capture consumer attention—the mood boost. In the past decades countless retail and marketing intel has been shared tracking the concept of “retail therapy” and the dopamine rush consumers receive from a new purchase. In pandemic times, this mood boost — whether it be from brightly colored or playfully designed products—provides the pick-me-up consumers are yearning for most after a day filled with monotonous Zoom meetings or online classes. The online consumer interest tracker Glimpse displays that searches for mood boosting activities like watercolor painting have risen 37% and queries on ukuleles have risen 64 percent during the pandemic months as people seek out moments of joy while at home. Retailers have seen success in outdoor furniture and lawn games fueled by families seeking to make use of their outdoor space and feed their need for emotional connection.
Perhaps on a more literal note, the wellness market has seen a boom in mood-boosting supplements with an overall 49 percent increase in web searches for “stress supplement” over the past four years as well as a surge during quarantine. Mental wellness brands have seized this movement to comfort users with free subscriptions to meditation apps to help boost overall mood. Although the pandemic’s most immediate threat is to our physical health, consumer mental health and concern for mood becomes top of mind as well. Brands that are able to offer consumers opportunities to feel moments of joy, pleasure and self-expression will win loyalty in the tough months of economic recovery ahead.
FashionUnited & Fashion Snoops (FS) have partnered to explore important shifts that will impact consumers, as we both believe it is essential to inform you of future inspirations, business shifts and design strategies. The monthly reports from FS will provide actionable strategies for innovations across marketing, development and design. Following the series that started last month with “Product as protection”, we present “Product as Mood Boost,” written by Carrera Kurnik, Culture Editor & Consumer Insight Strategist at FS, and Melissa Moylan, VP/Creative Director of Womenswear at FS.
Self-expression has been on the rise, partially fueled by social distancing and stay-at-home orders which turned many of us on to DIY arts and crafts. It’s no secret that tie-dye is and continues to be a fan favorite, either created at home or purchased from luxury or mass-market brands. There’s also a virtual component that fuels the process and drives the trend on platforms like TikTok. And it doesn’t hurt that most tie-dye applications land on loungy knits, from t-shirts to sweats.
Beyond tie-dye, a multitude of other prints and pattern motifs become primary drivers that celebrate individualism. This is even more evident at Spring 21 Fashion Weeks, where designers apply lively bright hues and artistic abstracts to collections. Christopher Kane’s vision stood out in particular, as he applied paintings he made during lockdown to one-of-a-kind garments. Another technique that’s gaining momentum is patchwork, composed of clashing patterns and textures, from avant-garde creations at Matty Bovan to fantastical sea life prints spotted at both Rixo and Versace. While visually upbeat, these mood-boosting prints and patterns are also timely in a cultural context, whereby political unrest has made way for self-expression.
Our current cultural climate has left many of us longing for ways to connect through our senses. While we have countless technological advancements to bring us closer, we remain deprived from physical touch. In fact, seeking the sensation of a warm embrace, H&M Lab and Boltware technology created a jacket called Wearable Love that mimics the feeling of being hugged. While that’s a very forward, reality-driven development, presently we can turn to fabrics to elicit “feeling good” in our clothes. Taking a cue from intimate apparel, silky satin materials are on the rise, adding a sensual element to items from slip dresses to pajama-like sets that simply feel great next to the body. Likewise, sweaters and knits become even more important classifications, adding an undeniable comfort factor that applies for all seasons. For the winter months, tactile surfaces such as quilting, down-filled or spongy textures offer another way to heighten touch and sensitivity. While materials won’t replace the sensation of being embraced, they could certainly provide positive relief on the surface.
Bold, vibrant hues serve as the ultimate mood-boost. Cultivating a visual feast for the eyes, color as a merchandising strategy becomes more relevant, as many brands tighten their assortments. While energetic brights apply to a full range of silhouettes, when paired with oversized details like the puff sleeve, they really push the point. In addition to accent hues, consider full-on monochromatic looks to create maximum impact and thrill for every day.
Getting dressed takes on a new meaning in our present state, with social calendars remaining uncertain through 2021. The monotony of wearing the same thing every day will push us to consider what we are dressing for, even if that means dressing up for smaller occasions at home. Instead of looks that transcend day-to-night, an emphasis on situational lifestyling means that we’ll likely retire our day looks and dress up for meaningful occasions with family and friends. Wardrobes will shift to outfit every occasion in life, from lounging around the house to work, cocktail and vacation attire. When we explore all of these options, it allows the opportunity to really dress for every occasion, while providing an inherent feeling of optimism.
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