2016 was a year of change for the retail industry.
Lingerie trends went from heavily-padded to barely-there, leading to explosive growth for some new brands and forcing industry mainstays to reinvent themselves. In sportswear, rivals are nipping at the heels of industry leader Nike.
And, with the rise of social media, digital marketing and celebrity endorsements are offering retailers new ways to connect with customers.
Amid the change, some companies managed to track the trends and stay ahead of the competition. Here are seven brands that you should keep an eye on in the new year.
This fall, American Eagle was chosen as the No. 1 preferred brand among upper-income teen women in Piper Jaffray’s survey of American teens.
“Given their body positivity and inclusion messages while continuing to invest in its core competencies of fabric and style, American Eagle’s hard work and focus is clearly paying off in finding more customers than before,” Piper Jaffray analyst Neely Tamminga wrote in the report.
One driving force behind American Eagle’s success is the retailer’s lingerie line, Aerie. The brand has made headlines for ditching Photoshop in order to showcase more realistic images of women’s bodies in marketing – a move that has paid off with explosive sales.
- YouTube/Victoria’s Secret
With Aerie on the rise, Victoria’s Secret was forced to make some major changes to better combat competition in 2016.
After seeing Aerie’s success in selling bralettes instead of heavily-padded push-up bras, Victoria’s Secret added an assortment of new styles and sports bras to its stores.
Now, the brand is going on the offensive, offering steep markdowns on bras in November – the first time in recent company history that the brand has done so outside of its semi-annual sale.
Leggings are still hot – and Lululemon is thriving because of it.
Piper Jaffray’s semiannual report on teen spending found that leggings/Lululemon were still the No. 1 fashion trend among teens.
The company reported in December that net revenues rose 13% to $544.4 million in the most recent quarter, beating analysts’ predictions.
- Heidi Zak, ThirdLove/YouTube
Calvin Klein is driving sales with marketing that stars on-trend celebrities. Its #MyCalvins campaign featured individuals with impressive social media followings like model Kendall Jenner and actress Bella Throne.
The retailer is also cashing in on the trend towards comfortable lingerie, with a third quarter launch of bras built for “seductive comfort” and expansion into selling larger sizes – a move that the company said could represent 25 to 30% of its total US bra business.
- Facebook/Under Armour
Under Armour has grown roughly 30% year over year in the past two years. While the company said the pace of growth will slow in the next two years, the fitness retailer has a few tricks up its sleeves.
The company is building its footwear business, with a new basketball shoe line attached to one of the best-known young players around, Steph Curry.
Plus, in December the company hit a branding home run, thanks to a 10-year exclusive deal to design and manufacture all MLB uniforms, beginning in 2020.
Everlane is the only retailer on this list that doesn’t have any physical stores.
Founded in 2010, Everlane was one of the first brands to prioritize ecommerce and supply-chain transparency. Now, online retailers that cut prices by eliminating middlemen are a dime a dozen – but Everlane has the advantage of arriving first.
In 2016, Everlane debuted a number of new shoes, with 6,500 shoppers adding their names to the Modern Oxford waitlist before the item even went on sale.
Next year, the retailer is launching even more new clothing, including cropped pants, loafers, and sweater dresses.
Adidas has the opportunity to take on Nike, the biggest sportswear company in the US, in earnest in 2017.
In the last year, the retailer opened a new design lab in Nike’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, launched pricey new designs, and repositioned heritage models like the Stan Smith as fashion icons.
Plus, celebrity endorsements and partnerships like Kanye West’s Yeezy line have helped make Adidas a modern fashion brand to watch.