Simply Southern

Coastal comfort: The latest trends in waterfront apparel By Carly McFadden

Relaxed, timeless silhouettes converge with pops of color and tactile fabrics for the latest beachside fashion trends.

As seen in Waterfront Living 2023.

Fashion aesthetic “Coastal Grandma” made waves last summer, with carefully curated outfits that embodied laid-back luxury and a Nancy Meyers-inspired pop culture revival.

Terry Ruffle T-Shirt Dress. Simply Southern.
Terry Ruffle T-Shirt Dress. Simply Southern.

The aesthetic, which rose to fame on social media, promoted an effortless twist on New England prep. To achieve the look, style-goers opted for crisp white button-downs, lightweight fabrics and comfortable-yet-tailored silhouettes. Add a backdrop of hydrangeas, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a beach read to complete the picture.

Social media trends are fast-changing by nature, but wholesalers such as Simply Southern still see strong demand for the classic seaside look in 2023 and beyond.

“The influence remains vibrant and flourishing,” said Gregory Gooden, vice president of sales and logistics at Simply Southern. “This prevailing trend is distinguished by its various shades of blue and incorporates flowing fabrics with a delightful fusion of textures.”

Coastal fashion today pays homage to the timeless appeal of last year’s top aesthetic — with a few twists.

QUIET LUXURY

Gaining popularity in fashion is “quiet luxury.” Like Coastal Grandma, quiet luxury relies on classic, elevated basics that can be styled a variety of ways. The trend has infiltrated coastal fashion as well as street style, with high-quality, neutral pieces taking center stage.

Town Pride offers several pieces that exude the luxury-meets-comfort look. And while Tamara Moran, president of Town Pride, believes Coastal Grandma did not quite revolutionize beachside apparel, she still sees nods to the aesthetic through the increased demand for soft, cozy fabrics that are ideal for relaxing near the water.

“The Coastal Grandma trend seemed to be short lived and more of a social media fad, but what has come from it is very oversized bodies,” Moran said. “The demand for our oversized crewneck sweater and oversized hoodies and sweatshirts has increased.”

Knit Sweater. Town Pride.
Knit Sweater. Town Pride.

Moran also sees rising demand for items that feature tone-on-tone embroidery, the process of placing text on apparel in a color just slightly darker or lighter than the material it’s being put on. The up-and-coming trend creates an elevated look that is very à la mode.

“We are seeing some stores go for the more edited tone-on-tone look with camel and natural shades,” she explained. “It really depends on the store and what story they are telling for the season.”

SPLASHES OF COLOR

Nautical neutrals continue to thrive in coastal fashion, but splashes of color — such as hydrangea-inspired hues — are brightening up wardrobes coast to coast.

“The coastal hues are currently in vogue, skillfully blending pink, purple and blue,” Gooden observed, adding that “[Simply Southern] cropped lightweight hoodies, available in pastel shades, have also garnered immense popularity, making them sought-after additions to our collection.”

Rosemary Tote. Nash Grey.
Rosemary Tote. Nash Grey.

Town Pride witnesses a similar demand for more vibrant colors among a largely neutral palette.

“While navy is still strong, we are starting to see more color trending, soft shades of aqua and turquoise, along with yellow and coral,” Moran said.

Meanwhile, fashion wholesaler Nash Grey’s Rosemary Tote meets the demand for retailers who are looking for a bolder take on coastal wear.

“This yellow and blue textured tote is the perfect accessory for a day at the beach, pool or picnic in the park,” said Marla Skipper, owner of Nash Grey. “The vibrant colors are very versatile and pair well with any spring or summer outfit. Made from high-quality materials, this tote is easy to carry, will be filled to capacity and will hold all of your essentials.”

TEXTILES

Integral to coastal fashion today is the blending of fabrics with a variety of weights, ranging from lightweight, flowy fabrics to heavy knits and more.

Paisley Sweater. Nash Grey.
Paisley Sweater. Nash Grey.

“Our knits are our best-selling collection,” said Moran of Town Pride. “We manufacture in the U.S. using recycled cotton-blend yarns. Our pieces are pre-shrunk and can be machine washable for easy care by the water.”

A top-seller for Town Pride’s retailers is the Sunshine Sweater, with a sun knit on the back and a custom word placed on the front.

The Paisley sweater at Nash Grey is a bestseller for coastal companies, and it features a heavier knit that transitions into fall — a perfect complement to chilly lakeside days.

“Coastal trends this fall are definitely not complete without a cozy sweater,” Skipper said.

Additionally, terry fabrics have risen in popularity, bridging the gap between beachwear and lounge attire and becoming more transitional, according to Gooden. Corduroy jackets are top-sellers at Simply Southern as well, as he explained incorporating a mix of textiles is key.

LOOKING AHEAD

Coastal Apparel. Town Pride.
Coastal Apparel. Town Pride.

A timeless, comfortable approach to coastal style is likely to prevail, Gooden predicted, and he believes textile-focused pieces will remain popular in coming years.

“I foresee the trend persisting, with a strong emphasis on both comfort and style,” Gooden explained. “Upcoming styles will feature tiered dresses, ruffles and puff sleeves, incorporating a delightful mix of fabric blends and weights to offer a diverse and appealing range of fashionable choices.”

Additionally, he forecasts a rise in environmentally conscious materials as sustainability continues to be a top priority among consumers.

“There is a growing emphasis on eco-friendly accessories and totes that effortlessly combine both functionality and style, catering to the conscious and fashion-forward consumers,” Gooden said.

Meanwhile, Moran believes the tonal embroidery and less-is-more style will rise in popularity, and Town Pride plans to launch collections inspired by those trends. Ultimately, coastal apparel is designed for both practicality and style, but it also aims to evoke the nostalgia and feelings associated with simple, relaxed outdoor living.

“Our pieces help retailers tell the waterfront living story, inspiring emotion, memories and happiness,” Moran concluded.

Cropped Hoodie Set in Ice. Simply Southern.
Cropped Hoodie Set in Ice. Simply Southern.

Featured: Corduroy Set in Blush and Glacier. Simply Southern.

Carly McFadden

Carly McFadden is the managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.




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