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From Fleabag jumpsuits to floppy hats: what we bought in 2019

Marcus Jaye
16 October 2019

The bellwether of middle England, John Lewis & Partners, has released its annual retail report looking back at what we bought over the past 12 months. According to the retail partnership, 2019 was the year the UK waged war on plastic waste, embraced the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) over the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), practiced mindfulness with LEGO for adults, and opted for staying in with luxe loungewear and informal dinner parties.

Marie Kondo was name checked for inspiring us to declutter and minimalist beauty took centre stage as customers embraced their ‘natural radiance’ rather than covering up with heavy makeup.

Extensive internal data was analysed to get an insight into the products which fell out of favour, the trends that sold and the themes which dominated the year. Here are the key fashion takeaways:

Modesty - Womenswear customers opted for longer hemlines and looser silhouettes as well as comfortable underwear. 2019 saw mini dresses fall from favour, with John Lewis & Partners own brand eliminating them from the range. Instead, the emerald Hush Kensington shirt dress was among the top ten best sellers of the year and Kin dresses, with their kimono silhouettes, saw a 20% sales increase. The trend kicked off last Christmas, when midi dresses (+152%) and maxi dresses (+179%) were the go-to length for the party season.


The Hush Kensington dress

Modesty continued into swimwear with swimsuits up 15.6%. The return of the swimsuit with one pieces outselling bikinis saw the rise of “maxi resortwear”, such as floor-skimming kaftans and sundresses taking on-trend holidaymakers from beach to bar.

This year’s trend for wide-leg culottes fits in with the loose-fitting, longer lengths that dominated above, up 51%. Versatile and practical, Kate Middleton encapsulated their casual chic look, when she teamed hers with white pumps at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. She was spotted in another green pair by Jigsaw only last week.

Duchess of Cambridge in culottes

John Lewis & Partners decided to ditch the clutch bag in 2019 saying, “We removed clutch bags from our own brand womenswear accessories range which we relaunched this summer.” Down 61%. This is at odds with one of the bags of the AW19 season, the slouchy ‘Pouch’ by Bottega Veneta’s new creative director, Daniel Lee, and seen all over the recent women’s fashion weeks.

The Bottega Veneta "Pouch" clutch is THE accessory of AW19 but John Lewis ditched clutches

Suspenders were down (pardon the pun!) 8% on the year with women looking for comfort in undergarments.

Wide Brim Hats were up 325%. The summer’s oversized floppy Jacquemus effect?


Jacquemus inspired the trend for wide-brimmed hats

Chunky, textured, oversized cashmere sweaters were another standout success for Autumn/Winter. The look’s style icon? A pregnant Duchess of Sussex, who favoured casual shirts and loose dresses over designated maternity wear.

Tailoring saw a revival, with customers mixing and matching jackets to dress up or down for any occasion and there was a 33% increase in sales of high-rise, ankle-length trousers.

Major style influences included Fleabag and Peaky Blinders which saw sales of black jumpsuits and flat caps boom respectively and the Women’s World Cup seeing a spike in sales of sports headbands.

With half of the UK workforce set to work remotely by 2020, working from home is becoming a way of life for many. Sales of luxurious loungewear was up 129% and is at an all-time high as customers want to feel comfortable, but polished, whilst logging in from their sofa. Customers also continued to stay in and enjoy a night in front of the TV in more relaxed clothing with men’s track jackets up 73%.

Other significant takeaways:

- Shopping on the go became even more essential for John Lewis & Partners’ customers. Visits to their website from mobiles grew by 54%, up 12% compared to last year and 57% of online orders used their Click & Click option for fast and convenient pick up.

- “The rental market will continue to boom as consumers opt for fuss-free rental options over property investments,” the report said. With property prices soaring, the rental market continues to boom and they see a growing number of consumers prioritising convenience and flexibility, especially when it comes to their living situation.

Services in John Lewis stores

- John Lewis & Partners is still committed to the traditional store. Simon Coble, Trading Director at John Lewis & Partners, says “We believe that having a physical shopping destination creates human connections and builds trust, particularly at John Lewis & Partners, where our Partners have dedicated training and knowledge to offer specialist advice and personalised support.  A growing range of services are at the heart of what we offer, designed to meet the individual needs of customers and embrace the fun of shopping. Offering the ability to delight customers with immersive experiences and make their purchases more meaningful is where bricks triumph over clicks.”


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