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How frequent travel is changing the fashion industry

By Marjorie van Elven


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Traveling is more affordable than ever, thanks to the rise of low-cost airlines and alternative accommodation options such as boutique hostels, house swapping and Airbnb. Millennials, who are known to be focused on personal experiences, travel more than any other previous generation, according to Nielsen’s “Young and ready to travel (and shop)” report, released in 2017.

Another report by MMGY Global revealed that 66 percent of American Millennials have a passport, whereas only 49 percent of Generation X-ers and 40 percent of Baby Boomers do. They are not just traveling for leisure: business travel is becoming more common as well, with Millennials taking an average of 7.7 business trips a year, according to MMGY.

With young adults frequently on the move, new apparel needs emerge. How has frequent travel impacted the fashion industry?

Swimwear and summer apparel are becoming more popular

Summer used to be a less significant time for retail, as consumers wear less and tend to buy items of lower value. But things are changing, according to retail technology company Edited, which noticed that online fashion retailers are stocking more espadrilles, denim shorts and wrap dresses in recent years. Edited also found out that retailers have been offering new items in the swimwear and sunglasses categories earlier in the year.

Suitcases are the new “it” item

When one travels frequently, luggage becomes a fashion accessory. Rimowa, the German luggage manufacturer acquired by LVMH in 2016, is a great example of a company catering for this new market. The brand has collaborated with fashion labels such as Off-White, Anti Social Club, Supreme and Fendi. But they are not the only ones. Competitors Tumi and Away are following a similar strategy.

Travel accessories must be fashionable, too

Travel accessories such as neck pillows, suitcase tags, eye masks and passport covers can now be found in the accessories section of many fashion stores, such as H&M and Primark. According to Edited, the presence of eye masks in the market has increased 217 percent in the last two years. There are also 81 percent more card holders in stock today, compared to two years ago. Passport holders were up by 13 percent.

Luxury brands get a boost

Many studies point out that, as a general rule, Millennials and Generation Z consumers care about sustainability and favor experiences over possessions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like to splurge every once in a while, and travel provides the perfect opportunity for them to come across luxury brands. Nielsen’s global survey with traveling Millennials found that 63 percent of them purchased a premium or luxury item in the watch, jewelry, clothing, bag, accessory or spirit category in the past year -- 28 percent of those purchases were defined by respondents as “impulse purchases”. When asked about why they visit shopping areas at the airport, one third of surveyors said they do it to buy themselves “a treat”.

The rise of comfort

There are many reasons why streetwear and athleisure have risen in popularity, of course. But the fact Millennials are travelling more than previous generations may very well be one of the contributing factors. Travelers need clothes that are comfortable, easy to match and wash, and that do not wrinkle easily -- all boxes which streetwear and sportswear can tick. Sneakers, which are now featured in the collections of many luxury fashion houses, also provide wearers with the comfort and support necessary for hours of sightseeing on foot.

Photos: Pixabay, Courtesy of Edited, Courtesy of H&M

Consumer Trends