Free People: A Winter Trend Forecast for 2021

Key takeaways

  • Free People is a US brand known for its unique boho aesthetic, appealing to the modern, free-spirited young woman.
  • Heuritech's trend forecasters took a look at Free People's current collection assortment to determine the best trends to include in Winter 2021 collections.
  • Trend forecasting is the key to creating desirable products at the right time, particularly for a young audience with rapidly changing desires like Free People's.

Established in the 1970s, Free People has always been a brand for the young and free-spirited woman. Its boho aesthetic evolves with the times while remaining true to the Free People brand identity: one the brand describes as feminine, courageous, and spirited. Their mission? To allow twenty-something women to:

“Appreciate the line of clothing that caters to their intelligence, creativity and individuality, while keeping with great quality and affordability.”

Models poses in a tiki hut for Free People

Knowing this about Free People, our trend forecasters at Heuritech took a look at the brand’s website to review their product assortment. We picked out a handful of core and recurring trends from the current collection and compared them with our data in order to gauge demand for the Winter 2021 season in the US. This comparison will allow Free People to determine trends which both subscribe to the brand’s unique aesthetic and to the current consumer desires on social media.

Boho Dreams: Forecasting trends for Winter 2021

Indeed, Free People’s unique style is centered around a distinct bohemian spirit, romanticism, and comfortable clothing. The following will focus on three trends which fall under the brand’s distinguishable aesthetic: the oversized sweatshirt, the gypsy maxi dress, and the cropped blouse. But even with such a strong and appealing DNA, understanding trend behavior can help in two principal ways:

  • To develop highly desirable SKUs in tune with consumers’ wishes and therefore avoiding overstock 
  • To adapt product assortment and collection design to changes in trend behavior season after season 

1. Oversized Sweatshirts for the Winter season

US style has always had a soft spot for sweatshirts, particularly among student-age consumers. Naturally, the colder months are hotbeds for this garment, and this year is no exception. Our trend forecasts determined that oversized sweatshirts will rise in visibility by +24% this Winter 2021 among US female consumers, meaning that we expect to see this trend on +24% more social media images than in Winter 2020. This is no small number, and coupled with its massive market demand potential (i.e. magnitude), we consider the oversized sweatshirt to be a fashion bet this Winter.

Heuritech trend forecast for oversized sweatshirts Winter 2021 US

Simply put, this means that Free People should most definitely include oversized sweatshirts in their Winter 2021 collections. Moreover, the trend’s appeal to edgy consumers signals to the brand’s designers that they can be more expressive in their designs in this product category.

Indeed, it’s likely that the edgier consumers will go for oversized sweatshirts, as we predict this silhouette to occupy nearly one-fourth of social media images showing this trend. The remaining three-fourths will be regular sweatshirts, so this silhouette may be a safe route for the more mainstream consumers. In any case, Free People should note to push the oversized sweatshirt during its high seasons of Spring and Winter, the periods during which demand will be at its highest. 

2. The Gypsy Maxi Dress, a Free People staple

We can’t mention Free People without giving a nod to the maxi dress, perhaps the most classic garment of modern bohemian style. It’s perfect for warm weather and layering, and it’s a favorite among Free People’s trendy and edgy consumers. The styles we predict to see the most this Winter are:

  • Fishtail, at nearly 40% of all gypsy maxi dresses on social media
  • Camisole, at nearly 25%
  • Ballgown, at just around 20%

Evidently, Free People’s designers and merchandisers have some wiggle room in this product category for upcoming collections.

Heuritech trend forecast for maxi dresses Winter 2021 US
Heuritech’s trend forecasting platform

But because the gypsy maxi dress is largely a warm-weather garment, its visibility will decrease slightly come Winter 2021 compared to last year: -8%. Same goes for its magnitude, which we consider to be small for the Winter season. This doesn’t mean that Free People shouldn’t include this trend in their upcoming collections, though — quite the contrary. The gypsy maxi dress is a steady trend, meaning it’s reliable. And its high seasons of Summer and Fall mean that Free People can sell this garment throughout 2021, so long as the brand adapts the styles to the season at hand.

Curious to see how FW21 trends compare in Europe and the US?

3. Cropped Blouses are trending this Winter 2021

Another warm-weather staple is the cropped blouse. And while this may seem counterintuitive, we consider this trend a safe bet for Winter 2021. Why? Because its high seasons are in Summer and Fall, so the cropped blouse will trickle down to Winter, particularly thanks to Free People’s appeal to edgy US consumers who live in warmer climates to begin with. 

Heuritech trend forecast for cropped blouses in US Winter 2021

The cropped blouse’s big magnitude means that there will be considerable market demand for the garment this Winter, despite its -9% visibility rate on social media. If Free People wants to deliver exactly what their customers want, they can be sure to include the garment’s most popular iterations: over half over all posts with a cropped blouse are one of regular length, while a third are shorter than the average. 

Winter 2021’s top trend forecasts

To summarize, we compared a few key trends taken from Free People’s e-commerce platform with our data to provide a glimpse of how they will behave in the US market for the Winter 2021 season. 

Heuritech trend forecast summary for Free People Winter 2021 US collection
  • With an impressive predicted growth of 24%, oversized sweatshirts are predicted to be a fashion bet. Definitely a trend to carry over.
  • Cropped blouses are predicted to register a slight decrease but due to their big magnitude, they remain a safe bet. The regular length will be the trend’s most visible product category. 
  • Lastly, gypsy maxi dresses will lose some desirability, but because they represent a small audience, it seems important to monitor their behavior. The ideal assortment mix for this trend will be fishtail, camisole, and ballgown maxi dresses.

With trend forecasting, Free People can sustain their strong brand identity while remaining in touch with the market needs in order to allocate the right number of skus to the right trends and bet on the right trends at the right time.

About the writer: Mélanie Mollard, Fashion Content Manager at Heuritech

Mélanie writes about the fashion industry and its many features through the lens of applied data and trend forecasting technology.

Questions or feedback? Email us at info@heuritech.com

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