EU, US fashion retailers bet bras with wires and a splash of color will sell this spring

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LISBON/CHICAGO — After a year of nesting in pastel-colored loungewear, shoppers are opting for styles with floral prints, feel-good slogans, and statement jewelry to jazz up working-from-home outfits as optimism makes a comeback in spring collections, designers and retailers told Reuters.

While neutral, comfortable clothing remains more popular than in a normal spring, retailers from Neiman Marcus to Walmart and Macy’s, Inc. reported growing sales of bright, optimistic color, flowy fabrics or dresses for the first time since the start of the pandemic as shoppers prepared for a return to normal life.

“We’re seeing a return to occasion dresses and even bras with wires,” Marie Ivanoff-Smith, fashion director at department store Nordstrom, told Reuters. “As it gets warmer and more people go outside, we thought people would really want to showcase optimism and joy with prints and vibrant colors.”

So far, ditzy floral prints are up 31% in Europe and 16% in the United States from last year, according to Heuritech, a data firm analyzing millions of pictures a day on social media and catwalks.

Colors seen in catwalks for spring and summer 2021 collections were vibrant pinks and bold blues — “an energizing source of inspiration to help carry us through,” the company said in a Feb. report. While vibrant colors and floral motifs are typical of spring styles, the difference this year is that fashion lines also include nude T-shirts and what Walmart’s head of fashion editorial, Alison Hilzer, called “slouchy cardigans.”

British online fashion retailer ASOS said in an e-mail that it noticed in recent weeks its customers were “into feel-good slogans, brighter colors, and floral accessories as the weather has started to improve and they start to get ready for the summer ahead.”

“While neutral tones are still prevalent, we’re excited to inject some much-needed optimism into our wardrobes with bright accents. We’re loving yellows and greens for (spring),” an ASOS spokesperson told Reuters in an e-mail.

“Bold colors, draping, and light fabrics created a perfect complement to spring with collections from Dior, Loewe, and Dries van Noten,” said Lana Todorovich, president and chief merchandising officer at luxury retailer Neiman Marcus.