Millennials have a new shopping habit that could spell trouble for Forever 21 and H&M
- Millennials are increasingly buying clothing that's characterized by durability and utility.
- This has led to a surge of interest in brands like The North Face and Patagonia.
- With durable fashion in vogue, fast-fashion retailers, like H&M and Forever 21, that have been known for creating cheaper, more disposable clothing are likely to suffer.
These days, you're as likely to spot a Patagonia fleece on the back of an explorer clambering their way up the side of a mountain face as you are to see it on a hipster sipping coffee in Brooklyn.
Practical fashion is in vogue, and it's being driven by millennial customers' desire to shop at brands that sell clothes that last longer and seem to have a purpose.
Outdoorsy labels like Patagonia and The North Face are surging in popularity. These brands have won over the hearts of customers who were psychologically scarred by the recession and have become more considered with their spending habits.
Historically, during times of economic uncertainty and social unrest, consumers will dress in more practical clothing.
"Economical or ideological climates definitely influence designers and consumers in the way they interact with fashion," Kate Nelson Best, an expert in fashion culture and author of the 2017 book "The History of Fashion Journalism" told Quartz. "For example, after the relative freedom of style in the 1920s, the 1930s [during the Great Depression] saw a return to a more conservative style of dressing: long dresses for evening, and suits for daywear. There was a more inward-looking consciousness."
This shift towards practical, sustainable fashion and away from the culture of buying cheap clothing from stores that jump on trends poses a big threat to fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M and Forever 21, which may offer lower prices than these brands but fall short on quality by comparison.
Here are some of the most popular utility-focused brands:
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