John Lewis reveals ‘modest’ Brits are turning their back on sexy outfits

A new age of modesty has dawned in which we appear to be turning away from excess, uncomfortable fashion and displays of wealth.

Long hemlines, flowing lines and comfy underwear in natural tones are replacing figure-hugging outfits, suspenders and push-up bras.

Utility chic is also on the rise with designer boilersuits a top trend of the past year, boosted by the Fleabag black jumpsuit, as worn by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the hit BBC series.

A more ‘mindful nation’ is rejecting clutter and throwaway plastic in favour of more natural products, houseplants and grow your own ‘urban farming’. 

The patterns have been revealed in the annual lifestyle and shopping habits report from John Lewis entitled How We Shop, Live and Look. It lists products on the way out in the last year and those enjoying growing demand from shoppers.

Comfort was king for customers when it came to undergarments - sales of suspenders were down 8 per cent on the year

Comfort was king for customers when it came to undergarments - sales of suspenders were down 8 per cent on the year

Sexy underwear including suspenders  and push-up bras  are out, seeing an eight per cent and a seven per cent drop in sales

Sexy underwear including suspenders  and push-up bras  are out, seeing an eight per cent and a seven per cent drop in sales

The patterns have been revealed in the annual lifestyle and shopping habits report from John Lewis entitled How We Shop, Live and Look. It lists products on the way out in the last year and those enjoying growing demand from shoppers. Sexy underwear including suspenders (left) and push-up bras (right) are out, seeing an eight per cent and a seven per cent drop in sales 

Utility chic is also on the rise with designer boilersuits a top trend of the past year, boosted by the Fleabag black jumpsuit, as worn by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the hit BBC series. Pictured: John Lewis' best-selling black jumpsuit

Utility chic is also on the rise with designer boilersuits a top trend of the past year, boosted by the Fleabag black jumpsuit, as worn by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the hit BBC series. Pictured: John Lewis' best-selling black jumpsuit

Utility chic is also on the rise with designer boilersuits a top trend of the past year, boosted by the Fleabag black jumpsuit, as worn by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the hit BBC series. Pictured: John Lewis’ best-selling black jumpsuit

‘In fashion, modesty reigned as customers opted for longer hemlines and looser silhouettes as well as comfortable underwear,’ said the survey.

‘Customers are no longer willing to endure uncomfortable underwear in the name of sex appeal with suspenders down 8 per cent compared with last year. And push-up bra sales fell 7 per cent.’

Women’s changing tastes led to an 81 per cent rise in the sale of T-shirt bras as they sought ‘functional comfort’ with ‘understated and less structured’ underwear.

Popular TV shows have had a big impact, according to the upmarket store. ‘As the second series of cult TV series Fleabag hit our screens, customers mirrored the look of its anti-hero by styling black jumpsuits with red lipstick,’ it said.

‘The new series of Peaky Blinders in August and led to a 25 per cent increase in sales of flat caps.’

The move to a more modest approach was also reflected in make-up trends. ‘Minimalist beauty took centre stage as customers embraced their natural radiance rather than covering up with heavy make-up,’ said the upmarket store.

Reusable straws saw a  1573 per cent increase on last year' sales

Reusable straws saw a  1573 per cent increase on last year' sales

Flat caps also saw a boost after the latest series of Peaky Blinders aired

Flat caps also saw a boost after the latest series of Peaky Blinders aired

Reusable straws (left) saw a 1573 per cent increase on last year’ sales while flat caps also saw a boost after the latest series of Peaky Blinders aired

The only nod to excess was the continuing popularity of animal prints as the store saw a rise of 333 per cent of any fashion item with a leopard print while zebra and snakeskin patterns also sold well.

Looking at the home, John Lewis said: ‘This was the year customers decluttered, investing in storage and doing away with crammed cupboards and overcrowded shelves as the Marie Kondo craze swept the nation.’

The list of products people are keen to see the back of includes drones, which John Lewis has stopped selling, landline phones, which have been replaced with smartphones, camcorders, clutch bags and mantel clocks.

John Lewis removed clutch bags from their own brand womenswear accessories range which they relaunched this summer

John Lewis removed clutch bags from their own brand womenswear accessories range which they relaunched this summer

John Lewis removed clutch bags from their own brand womenswear accessories range which they relaunched this summer

Significantly, staying in is the new going out with people happy to work, entertain, rest and nest at home, rather than feeling under pressure to live an Instagram life of excess.

It said: ‘With half of the UK workforce set to work remotely by 2020, working from home is becoming a way of life for many. Sales of luxurious loungewear is at an all-time high – up 129per cent on last year – as customers want to feel comfortable, but polished, whilst logging in from their sofa.

‘Customers continue to bring mindfulness into the home with botanical house plants blooming in popularity when it comes to reconnecting to nature. And with growing awareness of our responsibility to the environment, 2020 will see consumers continuing to utilise underused urban spaces to grow their own produce.’

The idea of people wanting a more simple, natural lifestyle means sustainability and ethical shopping remain key trends.

What John Lewis left behind 

Every year John Lewis discontinue certain items and this year it was no different. These are the items they are no longer selling…

  • Drones – Following the disruption in UK airports in December 2018, the department store decided to stop selling drones this year.

  • Landlines – With customers preferring to rely solely upon their smartphone to stay in touch with family and friends, they saw sales of landlines down 20 per cent this year, down 45 per cent since 2014.
  • Camcorders – Sales of camcorders were down 33 per cent as smartphone cameras enable customers to capture crystal clear quality content.
  • Clutch bags – John Lewis removed clutch bags from their own brand womenswear accessories range which they relaunched this summer.
  • Suspenders – Comfort was king for customers when it came to undergarments – sales of suspenders were down 8 per cent on the year.
  • Mantel clocks – Traditionally seen as the centrepiece of a living room, sales of mantel clocks were down 30 per cent as customers ask their voice activated speakers instead.

  • Cocktail shakers – with artisan tonics dominating the drinks trolleys, less customers were reaching for their cocktail shakers.
  • Fish Kettles – as formal dinner parties fell from favour, they decided to stop selling fish kettles.

It said: ‘As the government announced a forthcoming ban on sales of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers in England, our customers chose to cut down on their own plastic use. Travel mugs, lunch boxes and portable cutlery became daily essentials with many customers owning multiple reusable water bottles dependent on their need i.e. one for the gym, one for work and one for ‘on the move’.

Trading director at John Lewis, Simon Coble, said: ‘As a destination for customers during key life moments and big decisions, understanding how the nation shops, lives and looks remains at the top of our agenda.

‘This year’s report, our seventh edition, explores how JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out – is revamping our living space, why 2019 was the year of oversized dresses, longer lengths and looser-fitting styles and, of course, what items we left behind.’

The company said ‘uncertainty and instability’ have dominated the high street and it is looking to expand its services to combat the shift to shopping online.

These range from employing personal stylists to help customers to create a new wardrobe, to beauty studios where customers can experiment with new looks and even an after-hours private shopping service, where customers, who guarantee a minimum spend of £10,000, can book out the whole shop.

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