- 2018 has been a significant year for the retail sector. Some of the nation’s most established stores have learned that they have the unenviable choice to either adapt or die.
- Many have taken lessons from the trendy young startups that have swooped in and redefined the way we shop.
- These are some of the brands that have exploded in popularity 2018.
2018 has been a significant year for the retail sector.
Wounded from the so-called retail apocalypse that defined 2017, some of the nation’s most established brands have been faced with the fact that they either have to adapt or die. As a result, many have been forced to take lessons from trendy young startups that have swooped in and redefined the way we shop.
From Gucci and Balenciaga to Crocs and Glossier, these are some of the most explosively successful brands of 2018:
- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
After receiving a $500 million cash injection from the Carlyle Group in 2017, the company hit a $1 billion valuation. It has continued to grow throughout 2018, making the top 10 list of teens’ favorite brands in four consecutive biannual surveys done by Piper Jaffray.
This trendy streetwear brand is known for its product “drops,” which have become some of the most anticipated events of the year for its followers.
During the season, these drops happen every Thursday online and in stores.
- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Californian skater brand Vans has been around since the 1960s but has exploded in popularity in recent years. After it was acquired by VF Corporation in 2004, it went from selling 90% of its products in California to growing its reach across the globe, making the leap to Asia and Europe.
According to Piper Jaffray’s latest “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, it has had the fastest growth in popularity since the study began in 2000.
- Cate Gillon/Getty Images
Crocs has been experiencing a comeback thanks to the “ugly fashion” movement.
Same-store sales were up 15% in the most recent quarter versus the year before, and its popularity has skyrocketed over the past year. According to Piper Jaffray’s biannual survey of teen preferences, it now ranks 13th out of all footwear brands for teen popularity, up from the 27th and 38th position the year before.
As a result, high-fashion designers have been eager to repurpose the brand as an ironic high-fashion icon. Balenciaga’s $850 platform Crocs sold out almost instantly. A follow-up Balenciaga Crocs stiletto also went viral.
- Facebook/Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein has been benefiting from a resurgence of ’90s fashion, specifically, the return of the logo. It relaunched some of its archive collections across underwear and clothing to cash in on this trend.
As a result, sales have boomed for parent company PVH Corp. Sales in the North American market for Calvin Klein were up 19% to $467 million in its second-quarter results and up a more 1% in its third-quarter results.
It has been doubling down on its efforts to appeal to the US market with celebrity-filled ad campaigns featuring well-known names such as the Kardashian and Jenner sisters.
Off-White was labeled the hottest brand in the world in a recent ranking released by fashion and e-commerce platform Lyst.
Founded in 2012, this high-end streetwear label is the brainchild of Virgil Abloh, who’s also artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s.
Off-White has risen 33 places in the Lyst ranking over the last year, surpassing Gucci and Balenciaga, thanks to Abloh’s globally hyped launches and collaborations with brands and celebrities such as Nike and Serena Williams.
- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Gucci is on fire. It was ranked the second-hottest brand in Lyst’s most recent survey and was ranked as the 10th most popular apparel brand in a survey of teen spending in April.
And it’s showing up in the brand’s financials. Sales grew 46.6% in the first quarter of 2018 and were up 35.1% in its most recent quarter, according to its parent company Kering.
Its recent run of success has been attributed to creative director Alessandro Michele, who has led the brand since 2015. Michele seems to have a keen awareness of what young people want, including bright, eclectic colors and patterns that are engaging, eye-catching, and look good on Instagram, Business Insider’s Jessica Tyler wrote in July after visiting one of its stores.
- Facebook/Fashion Nova
Fashion Nova has become the internet’s favorite fashion brand. The company has shot to fame in a relatively short period of time thanks to a host of endorsements on Instagram from influencers and celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Cardi B. Today it has 14 million followers on the app.
It was the most-searched fashion brand in the US on Google in 2018, beating out well-known luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty
- Facebook/Fenty Beauty
Rihanna’s beauty brand, Fenty, which is owned by the world’s largest luxury retailer, LVMH, only launched in 2017, but it’s already making waves in the beauty industry. Its products range from $19 for a lipstick up to $38 for powders. The collection is currently sold online and in Sephora stores in the US.
Rihanna also made headlines this year with her racy lingerie collection and runway show, which featured models of all shapes, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds.
- Facebook/Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephant skincare was created by Tiffany Masterson, a consumer who found herself disillusioned by what was available in the industry.
Since launching in 2013, it has gained a cult following, and many of its products have become Sephora best-sellers. Its serums cost between $52 and $134.
In a recent survey of a group of consumers between the ages of 13 and 34 conducted by Goldman Sachs and Condé Nast, the company was named as one of the most popular brands that they have bought from or are hearing about today but weren’t focused on last year.
- Randy Brooke/Getty Images
Kayne West made some wild allegations about the success of his Yeezy brand in a Twitter rampage earlier this year, writing that it had “hit a billion dollars,” “is the 2nd fastest growing company in history,” and “is a unicorn on its way to becoming a decacorn,” Silicon Valley buzz words that describe a business that is valued over $1 billion and over $10 billion, respectively.
While critics say that these statements are untrue, the brand has still achieved enormous success this year.
“Sneakers remain the most searched for Yeezy item worldwide. [During the first quarter of 2018,] the Yeezy Blush 500 and the Yeezy Boost 700 were the most wanted styles,” Katy Lubin, communications director at Lyst, told Business Insider.
Yeezy was ranked the seventh hottest brand in Lyst’s most recent index. Lyst noted that the West family’s antics, coupled with his brand’s select distribution strategy, make for a “mighty Yeezy hype machine.”
Direct-to-consumer brand Everlane, which prides itself on being transparent about its pricing and manufacturing, is quickly becoming one of millennials’ favored brands.
At the end of 2017 and early 2018, it opened its first permanent stores in New York and San Francisco.
Today, long lines outside the door have become a permanent fixture at its New York location.
- Rich Polk / Getty Images for GOAT
Balenciaga has been at the forefront of the ugly fashion movement, which is dominating runway shows and fast-fashion stores.
Its $850 high-heeled Crocs, which were first sold exclusively at Barney’s, sold out before they even hit stores earlier this year.
But Balenciaga has been best known for its Triple S sneakers, the shoe that is credited with kick-starting today’s ugly sneaker frenzy, GQ wrote in October, and which has been recreated by dozens of other stores.
Operating almost exclusively online, Glossier is leading the way in beauty products. It has attracted more than $86 million in funding since founder Emily Weiss began selling beauty products in 2013. Revenues reportedly tripled from 2016 to 2017.
According to Bloomberg, the company sells one of its popular $16 “Boy Brow” eyebrow shapers every minute, accounting for an estimated $8 million in sales per year.
In November, it unveiled its flagship store in New York, which is housed in its former showroom.
- Read more in our Retailer of the Year series:
- Abercrombie removed its shirtless models and turned up the lights in stores, leading to the biggest retail comeback of the year
- We visited dozens of stores this year, and these were the messiest by far
- We visited a lot of department stores in 2018. Here’s which one was the best to shop at.
- We compared the grocery-shopping experience at 6 major chains in 2018, and this one impressed us the most
- We ate dozens of meals at restaurant chains in 2018. Here are the 6 absolute best things to try right now.