With Gen Z consumers starting to combine Y2K inspirations with post-2010 aesthetics like dark academia, women’s fashion is updating preppy styles with a contemporary edge for back-to-school styles.
This season, vintage fits will receive unexpected layering styles for a renewed spin on the academia direction while upcycling continues driving interest in youth essentials.
Dive into the most profitable young women’s modern-academia trends for A/W sales on 23/24.
Overview of the global women’s apparel market
The global women’s apparel market reached a US $915 billion value in 2021. Research expects the industry to grow to US $1,165 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.11% by 2027. The primary factor propelling this growth is the rising influence of online shopping platforms. Other positive contributing factors include adopting innovative strategies and 3D knitting machines.
The online distribution segment will register the fastest CAGR (5%) from 2022 to 2027. E-commerce platforms propel the global market’s expansion, allowing the segment to showcase enough potential to surpass its offline counterparts.
In contrast, the offline distribution segment accounted for the highest market share in 2021. Despite its slowed growth rate, the offline retail segment remains dominant as more consumers prefer physical purchases and feel skeptical about buying clothes from online stores.
Research suggests that Asia-Pacific will showcase the fastest CAGR (5.5%) over the forecast period, while Europe will remain the largest shareholder in the global market.
5 outstanding modern-academia trends to adopt in A/W 23/24
1. Upcycled polo
Polo shirts need to get the credit they deserve. Most women don’t think their silhouettes are appealing, but this trend proves this idea wrong. A/W 23/24 uplifts this youth essential but focuses more on their long-sleeved variants.
Although they feel more formal and constructive, retailers can add a youthful feminine charm by adding preppy prints like stripes, mismatched patterns, and upcycled panels.
Women not used to wearing a polo shirt can start easy with an effortless top and jeans combo. The basic yet stylish ensemble will let the upcycled polo design stand out. It’s a perfect look for casual day-to-day errands.
Girls may also dive into more colorful styles for a classic look. For instance, they can pair a multi-colored striped long-sleeve polo with their favorite denim. Since the pants come in neutral, they won’t complicate the outfit and will let the upcycled polo grab the attention.
Lastly, consumers can elevate a classic upcycled look with some rolled-up sleeves. However, this style requires getting upcycled polos in oversized fits, allowing young females to roll up their sleeves slightly without difficulties. In addition, ladies may tap into a western aesthetic by pairing a long-sleeve polo with western-inspired pieces, like nude skirts.
2. Wide pleat miniskirt
Pleated miniskirts are versatile wardrobe items that young women can wear with the latest fashion staples. But, more importantly, the piece offers a stunning modern academic look that appeals to Gen Z consumers.
Ladies can start this trend with a chic monochromatic style. For example, they may wear a navy pleated miniskirt with a matching turtleneck. Or, young women can opt for a white blouse and white miniskirt combo.
For an effortless casual outfit, style a wide pleat miniskirt with a T-shirt, but tuck the tee’s loose ends into the skirt. Alternatively, young women can opt for cropped or graphic shirts that rest slightly above the miniskirt’s waistline. Then, finish the look with a denim jacket for a preppy touch.
Another style young women can try is layering with a pullover sweater. Wear a knitted oversized sweater over a pleated miniskirt for a cozy winter ensemble. In addition, consumers may tuck the sweater or style it over the skirt, using a belt to cinch the waist. Finally, make the outfit winter-appropriate by adding thigh-high socks or leggings under the miniskirt.
Leather jackets are classic pieces that consumers can add to any outfit, and they look fantastic with wide-pleat miniskirts. The combo creates an edgy aesthetic perfect for partying or simple hangouts. Denim jackets are great alternatives for women who don’t fancy leather garments.
3. Pinafore dress
Last season cemented the pinafore’s presence as an essential silhouette. Now, the apron-inspired appeal to the younger generation due to its youthful charm and multiple styling possibilities. In addition, the pinafore dress is an essential layering item that makes room for trans-seasonal outfits and unique aesthetics.
Ladies who love effortless aesthetics can’t go wrong with a cute black pinafore dress. They can layer a white shirt under the dress and add thigh-high socks for cold protection during winter.
Black pinafore dresses are also great for work. They’re not overly casual and not too serious either, making them perfect for transitions from work to the streets. The piece’s versatility will take young ladies a long way, as it can match almost anything in their closets.
For example, ladies interested in plain pinafore dresses can pair them with patterned shirts or blouses to spruce things up. They will stop an outfit from looking dull by incorporating eye-catching colors and patterns.
On the other hand, printed pinafores are perfect matches for plain shirts. Avoid layering patterns over patterns to keep the look chic and uncomplicated.
4. Tailored vest
The younger generations are looking toward the 2010s as the next decade to revive, and the vest is already heading the charge. These sleeveless beauties are an exciting way to add style and personality to any outfit throughout the seasons. Although vests started as part of suit sets, they remerge this season as standalone pieces and essential layering items.
Consumers can rock a tailored vest casually by layering a solid-colored vest over a patterned or contrasting-colored shirt. This outfit sets the vest as a statement piece that juxtaposes the inner shirt for a stylish accent. For example, young ladies can style a white vest over a black or dark navy long-sleeved shirt.
Ladies interested in bohemian vibes can pair a tailored vest with a flowy dress or skirt. Consider opting for prairie dresses or paisley-print gauzy skirts. In addition, the tailored vest will incorporate a preppy and academic look, creating a blend between put-together and overly relaxed boho styles.
Lastly, consider dressing up a vest by pairing it with an all-black outfit. What’s more? A black-on-black ensemble will make the wearer’s body look longer and leaner. For instance, ladies can wear skinny black blouses, matching blouses, and tailored vests.
5. Thrifted topcoat
Younger consumers are taking on the topcoat as a trans-seasonal piece with vintage appeal. In addition, the item’s oversized silhouette is a nod to thrift shopping, as most of Gen Z’s secondhand purchasing habits often result in clothes with less-than-perfect fits.
Regardless, topcoats are incredibly stylish this season. They’re items that women can wear over their outfits to keep themselves warm and protected from harsh weather conditions. Usually, thrifted topcoats rest slightly below the knee, but some variants can go all the way to the ankle.
Although wool topcoats are the most popular options, retailers can also stock up on heavy cotton, gabardine, and wool-synthetic fiber blend variants. In addition, topcoats often have belted designs, allowing young women to show off a cinched waist during winter.
Plus, thrifted topcoats are incredibly adaptable, especially when consumers want to rock a chunky sweater and wintery floral dress. Ladies can add an extra insulation layer by wearing a lightweight gilet or a high-necked top underneath this functional piece.
Youthful fashion is constantly evolving to adopt new trends from previous generations. Retailers can keep up with the change by balancing vintage classics with seasonal youth essentials.
Layering also remains a key tool businesses can use to offer fresh perspectives on preppy styles. Moreover, they must focus on versatility and wearability to provide higher-value items.
Upcycled polos, wide pleated miniskirts, pinafore dresses, tailored vests, and thrifted topcoats are the young women’s modern-academia trends to watch this season for more sales and profits.