For US consumers, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors were among the leaders for both men and women in the dress wear category, as per a survey that identified the most popular brands by generation and gender.
Specialty retail and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands performed well for women and Bonobos and Suitsupply were popular with millennials and Gen Z for men in the dress wear category, according to the Brand Heat Index survey by LEK Consulting. The index ranks brands by generation (Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X) across four categories of men’s and women’s apparel and footwear.
For athletic wear, Nike, Lululemon, Gymshark, Under Armour, Champion, and Adidas were among the top brands for both men and women. For casual wear, fast fashion labels like Shein, Fashion Nova, and PrettyLittleThing were popular among women, while workwear brands like Carhartt and Levi’s were gaining popularity among men. Stalwart brands like The North Face, Columbia, and Patagonia were popular for outdoor wear.
In the athletic footwear category, On surpassed last year’s top-ranked brand Nike for women, primarily due to popularity with millennials and Gen X. For men, Nike and Brand Jordan remain the two hottest brands overall, followed by Adidas and Under Armour.
For casual footwear, Crocs, Vans, Converse, Ugg, and Allbirds were popular. Ugg was found to be the top brand for women’s outdoor footwear, while Timberland and Columbia were the most popular for men. Younger consumers showed a preference for outdoor/active sandal brands.
When it came to dress footwear, the leading brands for women included Steve Madden, Coach, and Michael Kors, with style and brand appeal being the most significant factors. For men, preferences varied across generations, with Cole Haan and Ferragamo being the hottest brands overall. New additions to the list included Jack Erwin, Sandro Moscoloni, and Wolf and Shepherd, due to their popularity with millennials. Hugo Boss dropped from the top spot to number eight.
Laura Brookhiser, LEK managing director and survey report co-author, said: “While this year’s Brand Heat Index revealed several significant consumer trends, it’s worth noting that legacy brands that have been able to provide a consistent message and experience over time, like Nike and Columbia, have maintained their strong overall performance—but consumers are also getting excited about up-and-coming brands, like HeyDude, Hoka, and On.
“Not surprisingly, younger consumers prefer newness and fast fashion, like Shein, Zara, and Lulus, while older ones are more likely to place a greater emphasis on comfort and quality, like Patagonia.”
“Gen Z men have less engagement with the dress footwear category than they do with others, as they’re materially aware of just 10 brands. This is likely a result of the casualisation trend, which is popular among younger generations and has been amplified by the shift to work from home,” said Chris Randall, LEK managing director and co-author of the survey report.
The survey, which involved nearly 4,000 participants that were US consumers aged 14-55 years old, assigned each brand a heat score ranging from 0-100, with higher scores indicating greater popularity.