U.S. sales of fashion accessories grew 4% the first 10 months of 2018, according to analytics firm The NPD Group, a significant market turnaround from the declines seen over the past two years. Much of this growth is attributed to rising sales of untraditional silhouettes, signaling a shift in consumer preferences and priorities across wearers.
Double-digit sales gains in backpacks, fanny/waist packs, and luggage, alongside sales declines in the historically key categories—such as totes, shoppers, and messenger bags—reveals a significant shift in the way consumers are accessorizing. The most notable component of this shift is the fanny pack category—beyond the unique nature of these products, the category represents just 1% of fashion accessories sales and is generating nearly a quarter of the industry’s growth.
“Changing consumer behaviors, such as travel and the pursuit of convenience, are changing the way consumers everywhere think about the accessories they need,” says Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories industry analyst, The NPD Group. “New lifestyle needs will make categories like luggage, backpacks, and even fanny packs popular items on shopping and wish-lists during the 2018 holiday season.”
Backpacks are no longer just a back-to-school purchase and continue to replace traditional work-like bags. While everyday backpacks grew across both male and female wearers, fashion backpacks drove the majority of the growth among females.
Growth of these less traditional categories is not isolated. The New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco designated market areas (DMAs) are the top three growth regions for backpacks and fanny/waist packs, but these categories are also growing in many small and large markets across the U.S.
While the premium channel drove much of the growth in fanny/waist packs, the mid-tier/value channel is also a source of growth across both men and women. Further demonstrating growth across price points, both moderate and designer brands contributed to growth in the fanny/waist pack category.
“Fashion is still important to consumers, but consumers are also asking what the product can do for them—a question many upstart brands, like Lo & Sons and Dagne Dover, are doing a good job of answering,” says Goldstein. “Brands who guide the consumer, offering solutions to problems they didn’t know they had, will be the fashion accessories leaders.”