Description

This report offers a comprehensive analysis of the US women’s clothing industry in over 70 pages of content. The latest market and consumer developments are discussed in detail, with research-backed strategies recommended for women’s clothing brands and stakeholders going forward.

Below, we’ve summarized the key topics covered, and offer handpicked insights from the report.

Key Topics Covered

  • The impact of inflation on the women’s clothing market.
  • Most important clothing attributes.
  • Reasons women have purchased clothing in the past year.
  • Where women are shopping for clothes including not only retailers, but method (in-store, online).
  • The role of sustainability in the clothing path to purchase.
  • Areas of opportunity for retailers and brands.

US Women’s Clothing Market Outlook 2023-2028

2023: Women’s clothing sales are estimated to rise 4.9% in 2023, and make up the majority of total US clothing sales. This doesn’t mean that the industry is free from inflationary pressures; a majority of women are shopping less frequently for clothing, and reducing their impulse buys as they save money or prioritize essentials.

2024-2025: Looking ahead to 2024 and 2025, eCommerce will likely command a higher share of total sales, as retailers improve sizing tools and customer service offerings in the online channel.

2026-2028: From 2026-2028, the industry will continue posting steady gains, as retailers increase efforts to connect with customers by highlighting DEI and sustainability initiatives. Retailers will also increase participation in the circular economy, and continue to invest in tech and the digital shopping experience.

Women’s Clothing Consumer Trends

Women tend to purchase clothing on a regular basis rather than waiting for the change of seasons. This trend is likely to remain, as nearly half of women have said that seasonal clothing is no longer important to them. To drive sales during slower times, retailers can use sales and promotions to create short-term increases in purchases.

The past year has seen a remarkable trend towards casualization, as evidenced by the top items women purchased with T-shirts, jeans, and activewear showing high purchase rates. Meanwhile, skirts and blouses have fallen lower on the list, reflecting the changing styles and preferences of women as well as the growing acceptance of casualwear in social environments.

Find more consumer trends and relevant opportunities for brands in the full report. You may also be interested to browse our Clothing, Footwear, and Accessories Market Research.

Definition and Brands Discussed

This Report will identify behaviors and preferences among female clothes shoppers, and it focuses on purchases that women 18+ make for themselves (versus as gifts). Clothing in this Report covers the following categories: jeans, pants/ slacks, suits, T-shirts, blouses, sweaters, dresses, skirts, jackets/ coats, blazers, swimwear, shorts and workout clothes (tops and bottoms).

Additional Features Included in Your Report

Different Digital Formats: PDF for conveniently sharing with your team, PowerPoint for quickly including in your presentation, as well as an Infographic and an interactive Excel Databook.

Mintel’s Clients Portal: Our portal offers instant access to actionable analysis and trends pieces relevant to your industry that are published almost daily. You can also browse for more market research reports.

Expert Analysis from a Retail Specialist

This report, written by Diana Smith, a leading retail and eCommerce analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the women’s clothing market, adding expert context to the numbers.

The women’s clothing market is still growing despite the current inflationary environment; however, its full potential is being stifled as women shift shopping behaviors to adjust to rising costs. Female shoppers remain focused on finding the right fit and want retailers to help them with this. They’re also keen to learn about retailers’ sustainability measures and improve their own eco-footprints, but they want to be rewarded for doing so. Looking ahead, circular shopping is likely to play a role in shaping the future of women’s clothing.

Diana Smith, Associate Director, Retail & eCommerce

 

Diana Smith
Associate Director – Retail & eCommerce

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top Takeaways
    • Consumer trends
    • Most women still shop regularly for clothes, but with some restraint
      • Figure 1: Shopping seasonality, by age, 2023
    • As social occasions return, women buy new outfits to wear to these occasions
    • Specialty stores need to give women a reason to stay in their consideration sets
      • Figure 2: Select retailers shopped – Any shopping (net), 2023
    • Digital on track to take over
      • Figure 3: Future shopping method, 2023
    • Competitive strategies
      • Figure 4: Moosejaw launches ReTrail resale offering
      • Figure 5: Slick Chicks celebrates Disability Pride Month
      • Figure 6: Athleta launches City Pants
    • Market predictions
      • Figure 7: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast of women’s clothing, at current prices, 2018-28
      • Figure 8: Women’s clothing outlook, 2023-28
    • Opportunities
    • Amplify the endorphin-producing benefits of clothing
    • Keep improving the process of finding the right fit
    • Push on the personalization/service aspect
    • Empower customers to help make fashion more sustainable
  3. Market Size and Forecast

    • Normalization is in effect
      • Figure 9: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast of women’s clothing, at current prices, 2018-28
      • Figure 10: Total US retail sales and forecast of women’s clothing, at current prices, 2018-28
      • Figure 11: Average annual household spending on women’s clothing, 2018-23
  4. Market Drivers

    • Inflation is the current biggest threat to the clothing industry
    • Good news is that inflation is improving
      • Figure 12: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, 2022-23
      • Figure 13: Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers: apparel in US city average, 2022-23
    • Women still find clothing to be rather affordable
      • Figure 14: Consumer goods and services: perception of current costs, 2022
    • Consumers are pulling back on clothing purchases in reaction to price pressure
      • Figure 15: Inflation-driven behaviors, 2023
      • Figure 16: Inflation-driven behaviors, by age, 2023
    • Consumers are reprioritizing essentials but not necessarily trading clothing budgets for other nondiscretionary items
      • Figure 17: Reasons for buying clothing less frequently in past year, by age, 2023
    • Younger women are selling their wears to make money
      • Figure 18: How earnings from selling clothing were used, 2023
      • Figure 19: Financial health and financial outlook, 2023
    • The widespread obesity epidemic in the US means retailers need to be offering extended sizing
      • Figure 20: Age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among women aged 20 or older, by age and race and Hispanic origin, 2017-18
    • Increase in remote and hybrid work settings drives demand for comfortable attire
      • Figure 21: Employment and work from home status, by age, 2023
  5. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Circular economy explodes as consumers look for value and become increasingly eco-conscious
    • Observations
      • Figure 22: Attitude toward preowned clothing, age and income, 2023
    • Opportunity
    • Brand examples
      • Figure 23: Moosejaw launches ReTrail, a resale offering
      • Figure 24: Mud Jeans promotes the positive impact that purchases can have on the planet
    • Brands are branching out to be inclusive and reach new target segments
    • Observations
    • Opportunity
    • Adaptive clothing brand examples
      • Figure 25: Slick Chicks promotes Disability Pride Month and some of its adaptive underwear and loungewear options
    • Maternitywear brand examples
      • Figure 26: Nike celebrates motherhood with maternity collection and programs to keep moms moving
      • Figure 27: Hatch helps pregnant women remain stylish
    • Unisex clothing brand examples
      • Figure 28: Big Bud offers gender-neutral and size inclusive clothing
    • Workwear is evolving and brands need to keep up or risk becoming irrelevant
    • Observations
    • Opportunity
    • Brand examples
      • Figure 29: Stitch Fix promotes women’s workwear
      • Figure 30: Athleta launches City Pants
      • Figure 31: Ann Taylor uses influencers to promote work attire for the whole week
  6. The Women’s Clothing Shopper – Fast Facts

  7. Shopping Frequency and Seasonality

    • It’s not doomsday for clothing – most women are shopping regularly
      • Figure 32: Shopping frequency, 2020-23
    • Younger, affluent consumers are the most frequent buyers
      • Figure 33: Shopping frequency, by age and income, 2023
    • Confirmed – 2020 was an anomaly for clothing seasonality
      • Figure 34: Shopping seasonality, 2020-23
      • Figure 35: Shopping seasonality, by age, 2023
  8. Important Attributes

    • Fit is queen when it comes to clothing attributes of importance to women
      • Figure 36: Important attributes when clothes shopping, 2023
    • Younger women prioritize form to greater degree
      • Figure 37: Important attributes when clothes shopping, by age, 2023
  9. Reasons for Buying Clothes

    • Women mainly buy clothing ‘just because’
      • Figure 38: Reasons for buying clothes, 2023
      • Figure 39: Lululemon creates Instagram activation to raise awareness of wellbeing, 2022
    • The motivation to buy casual clothing increases with age
      • Figure 40: Reasons for buying clothes, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 41: Select reasons for buying clothes, by race and Hispanic origin, 2023
  10. Items Purchased

    • Casualization is still a big priority
      • Figure 42: Items purchased, 2023
      • Figure 43: Athleta promotes swimwear and women’s clothing for tennis and golf
    • Most items purchased in a store
      • Figure 44: Items purchased, by channel, 2023
    • Women still love their activewear
      • Figure 45: Items purchased, by age, 2023
      • Figure 46: Attitude toward activewear, by generation, 2023
  11. Retailers Shopped

    • Retailer choices reflect desire for variety, convenience and value
      • Figure 47: Retailers shopped – Any shopping (net), 2023
    • Women are, on the whole, shopping for clothing online just as much as in stores
      • Figure 48: Retailers shopped, by shopping method, 2023
    • Balancing budgets by balancing retailers
      • Figure 49: Retailers shopped – Any shopping (net), by age and income, 2023
      • Figure 50: Macy’s 2023 Spring Style Commercial – Main Character Moment
  12. Shopping Method

    • Majority of women expect to do most of their clothes shopping online
      • Figure 51: Future shopping method, 2023
      • Figure 52: J.Crew launches new mobile app
    • Prior experience with online shopping drives future behaviors
      • Figure 53: Future shopping method, by generation, 2023
    • Store remains critical part of path to purchase
      • Figure 54: Future shopping method, by generation, 2023
    • Return policies hold a lot of weight
      • Figure 55: Attitude toward shopping online, by generation and parental status, 2023
    • Consumers expect to have free and flexible return options
      • Figure 56: Return tendency, by age, 2023
    • In their words
  13. Desired In-store Experiences

    • Women are looking for convenience and personalization when shopping in the store
      • Figure 57: Desired in-store experiences, 2023
      • Figure 58: Foot Locker shows its community support by providing grants for organizations serving youth development
    • Younger shoppers demand more from physical stores
      • Figure 59: Desired in-store experiences, by age, 2023
  14. Desired Improvements

    • Women want retailers to help them find the right fit
      • Figure 60: Desired improvements, 2023
      • Figure 61: Lululemon promotes its free membership program
    • Gen Z and Millennials have the most suggestions for improvement
      • Figure 62: Desired improvements, by generation, 2023
    • Hispanics are excited about rewards while Black women focus on fit
      • Figure 63: Desired improvements, by race and Hispanic origin, 2023
    • In their words
  15. Role of Sustainability in Fashion

    • A company’s sustainability actions can influence purchase decisions
      • Figure 64: Sustainability importance, by age, 2023
    • Consumers want to know about the materials their clothing is made of and how to sustain the life of their garments
      • Figure 65: Interest in sustainability, 2023
      • Figure 66: Interest in sustainability – index versus all women, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 67: Lifestyle brand Tree Tribe provides advice on how to be more sustainable
    • Retailers have many opportunities to earn consumer preference
      • Figure 68: Sustainability-related retailer drivers, 2023
      • Figure 69: Sustainability-related retailer drivers – index versus all women, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 70: Maylyn & Co. uses plant-based sustainable materials in its loungewear
      • Figure 71: Ganni partners with biotech firm Polybion to create a blazer made with a sustainable leather alternative
    • Quantifiable proof is important to earn trust
    • In their words
  16. Attitudes toward Shopping for Clothes

    • Clothes shopping is an emotional process that can involve highs and lows
      • Figure 72: Attitudes toward emotional aspects of clothes buying, 2023
      • Figure 73: Attitudes toward emotional aspects of clothes buying, by age, 2023
      • Figure 74: Sweaty Betty promotes mood-boosting benefits of its new Colour Theory Collection leggings
    • Sustainable fashion practices are not optional; they are a must
      • Figure 75: Attitudes toward sustainability, 2023
      • Figure 76: Attitudes toward sustainability, by generation, 2023
    • Women are paying more attention to brands’ ethics when deciding where to shop
      • Figure 77: Attitudes toward diversity, equity and inclusion, 2023
      • Figure 78: Nike celebrates motherhood with maternity collection and programs to keep moms moving
      • Figure 79: Attitudes toward diversity, equity and inclusion, by generation; LGBTQ+, 2023
      • Figure 80: Attitudes toward diversity, equity and inclusion, by race and Hispanic origin, 2023
  17. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  18. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 81: Total US retail sales and forecast of women’s clothing, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2018-28
  19. Appendix – The Consumer

    • Additional qualitative research
    • Current purchasing behaviors
    • Planning approach
    • Fashion inspiration
    • Clothing industry concerns
    • Gifting
    • Women’s perceptions of men’s clothing

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

Market

Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

Consumer

Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

Brand/Company

Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

Data

Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

Below is a sample report, understand what you are buying.

Click to show report

Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Also, our reports come in PDF, Powerpoint, Word and Excel Databook formats.

Trusted by companies. Big and small.

Bell Logo - Mintel client
Boots Logo - Mintel Client
Kelloggs Logo - Mintel client
Samsung Logo - Mintel client
Nike Logo - Mintel client
Walgreens Logo - Mintel client

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact us on via phone or fill out a form with your enquiry.

Contact Us