What are we going to wear?

A festive cape, draped from your shoulders, is paired with a dress and sparkly heels while you sip mulled wine. Before the reality of Zoom nights in the living room, Macy’s was envisioning this kind of scene for holiday parties in 2020.

“What we really loved about this dress-up opportunity was people feeling really glam,” said Macy’s Chief Merchandising Officer Nata DeVir. “We were thinking about the outerwear being as bold as the cape.”

Bloomingdales, which is owned by Macy’s, envisioned a “mix of utility and romanticism” that would include puff sleeves, eyelets and maxi dresses, said Denise Magid, an executive vice president of Bloomingdale’s, which specializes in ready-to-wear apparel. look after.

Major department stores have fashion offices filled with an unknown number of employees who keep track of new styles, surfing social media and interacting with designers. Large retailers also typically subscribe to online services that aggregate signals from Google Trends and social media. They work with agencies specializing in fashion forecasting, such as Stylus and WGSN, to project broader consumer habits with more fine-grained details such as seasonal color palettes, textiles and silhouettes. They all also obsessively track their competition.

Much of that work was done in person. For example, WGSN offered city guides to US retail buyers on trips abroad. Francesca Muston, vice president of fashion content, said, “If a shopper from a department store wants to go to Paris, we’ll have a guide that tells them where to go and eat and which stores to look for different things. needed.” in WGSN. Runway shows were also important. At Bloomingdale’s, before the pandemic, “the runway was a big component of our forecast, because what you saw on the runway would carry over to other collections,” Ms Magid said.

As last year everything went virtual, including runway showSocial media took on new prominence, and retailers ran into anything that smelled like a trend, sometimes tapping Los Angeles-based manufacturers to help them on a faster timeline.

“Instagram and TikTok have filled that void, and it turns the dynamic again about being responsive and responsive as things have a shorter lifespan,” Ms Magid said. She recalled an overnight increase in demand for denim joggers in the fourth quarter after a “famous influencer” (the retailer won’t say who) wore a pair of Rag & Bone on an Instagram Story.

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