Fashion in 2023 is all about nostalgia, comfort, and self-expression – here are the current trends you should be expecting in the fashion industry, according to the CivicScience InsightStore:

1. Gen Z has the biggest pulse on fashion, with social media as a growing source of fashion inspiration. 

More and more Americans are following fashion trends, especially Gen Z adults. CivicScience data show that 37% of the Gen Pop follows fashion trends, up from 36% in 2022 and 34% in 2021. This figure jumps to 68% among Gen Z – more than double the percentage of adults aged 35+ who follow fashion trends.

Social media and influencer marketing are likely fueling Gen Z to be more fashion-forward, as TikTok is a rising go-to search engine for these shoppers. Ongoing tracking also shows that social media is the single most popular place for fashion inspiration among younger adults. When asked where Gen Z gets fashion inspiration, social media took the top (42%), with a whopping six percentage point increase from 2022. 

More than a third of Gen Z also turn to TV/movies and friends/family for inspiration – both on the rise from 2021. Conversely, magazines and fashion websites/blogs are becoming less popular places to get fashion inspiration.

2. Casual sneakers are in, belt bags are out.

Y2K fashion, cargo pants, and platform shoes are just a few fashion trends today – how much do consumers like these trends? When asked to rate a variety of trends, adult respondents reported liking casual sneakers the most (e.g. Converse), with 64% favorable to them. 

Denim on denim (e.g. jeans with a jean jacket) was another fan favorite, with 42% favorable to the look. Wide-leg jeans (e.g. boot cut, baggy), leather clothing, and Y2K fashion (1990s and early 2000s clothing) are favorable to a smaller audience, whereas belt bags and fanny packs are the least popular.

According to the American Psychological Association, nostalgia provides a social connectedness and reminds us of the “good old days.” And, CivicScience data show there’s clearly a desire for nostalgia when it comes to fashion choices. April data reveal that 43% of U.S. adults say nostalgia is a factor when shopping for clothing at least ‘a little’ – a figure that has grown three percentage points from last year. In particular, consumers like early 2000s fashion the most – 26% rank this fashion decade as their favorite, which aligns with today’s Y2K trend. Next in line is 1970s (18%) and 1980s (17%) fashion. 

The nostalgia trend is also apparent when it comes to jean-buying habits. When asked which style of jeans consumers plan to purchase next, interest in skinny jeans dropped three percentage points from 2020 (15% to 12%), which shows that consumers are moving away from the 2010s mainstream fashion trend. Instead, more consumers are buying wide-leg and mom jeans compared to pandemic levels (+2 percentage points). This shift is likely due to consumers valuing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing while staying home during the pandemic. 

The popular ripped/distressed jeans in the 1980s are also picking up interest today, as the percentage who plan to purchase this style of jeans next increased by two percentage points from 2020 (3% to 5%).

4. Gen Z most likely to shop online, Boomers most likely to shop at department stores.

Where consumers shop also influences their fashion choices – thrift shoppers are likelier to wear vintage and one-of-a-kind clothing, whereas fast-fashion shoppers are likelier to wear trendy clothing. Per the latest CivicScience data, Americans are the most likely to purchase the majority of their clothing/apparel from online stores (21%). Department stores (20%) and big-box stores (16%) are the next two most popular places to shop. 

Gen Z is most likely to shop at online stores (18%) but on a smaller scale than the Gen Pop (21%). However, these young adults are the biggest fast-fashion shoppers compared to other age groups –13% primarily shop at stores such as Zara and H&M. Millennials include the largest percentage of specialty-store shoppers, like GAP and Lululemon (9%), and Baby Boomers shop at department stores the most (27%). 

Fashion trends are constantly evolving – for a real-time, pulse on the latest trends and how your consumers are responding to them, let’s chat.