Year in Review: Trends Anthropologie took on in 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 was a year of strange fashion trends to begin with -- the convergence of the early 1960s, 1980s and 1920s has made for some...unique...looks. Anthropologie is by no means alone in taking on some of these pieces. But aren't they lucky that this blog is all about them? Let's revisit some of Anthro's hits and misses, shall we?

Harem Pants. I don't even know where to begin with this one. My main issue here is that I fail to see where harem pants fit into the Anthropologie aesthetic. Did we get a little lost at meandering journeys and end up at the Pyramids? Did our whimsy get crossed up with our genies? Did someone who works at Anthropologie just lose a bet? Let's forget this ever happened. verdict: miss.

Rompers. Youthful, playful and utterly ridiculous, rompers have made a comeback in ways that even Nostradamus couldn't have predicted. While Sine's Two-Birds Romper wasn't a success on me I did end up buying one by Helmut Lang. You can even winterize it! As I said back in May if a romper is wrong then I don't want to be right. verdict: hit.

Jumpers. Speaking of signs of the apocalypse, I think rompers, jumpers and acid wash are 3 of the 4 horsemen. We are getting dangerously close to the edge Anthropologie. While rompers seem like summer delights to me I'm struggling to find a justification for pants attached to shirts. Not only is it hard to use the bathroom in these things but it's impossible to make them just the right length for everyone. So we talls are ready for the flood while the petite among us are drowning in inseam. Sounds appealing, doesn't it? verdict: miss.

Crap under $50. Hysterically, the email Anthropologie sent for this had two items that were actually over $50. Heh. J.Crew befell a similar fate so I'm loathe to poke too much fun. I know the economy is rough right now. But let's be honest. When your basic tee costs $58 and you regularly carry items that retail for over $500, is anyone going to take your efforts to be frugal seriously? Focus on what differentiates you, Anthro. Quality materials and interesting pieces. I'm not coming to Anthro for my layering tees and tanks. And if I do have $50 to blow I'm not blowing it on a damn feather headband. verdict: miss.

Batwings. The May email was oddly clinical, showing the tops like specimens. But I found most of Anthropologie's batwing tops to be very appealing and draped in ways that fit into the store's vibe. Their use of bold prints and luscious fabrics has made me a fan. They are not forever classics but this is one trend it made sense to see Anthropologie interpret. And they did an excellent job. verdict: hit.

Reality shows. Anthropologie is the last brand I would have expected to get involved in the reality show arena but they entered the circus with a quality entry in "Man Shops Globe." Head Anthropologie Buyer Keith Johnson was fun to tag along with and seems like a cool guy to know. This cross of The Amazing Race, Antiques Roadshow and Jersey Shore (ok, just threw that last one in to make sure you were paying attention) ended up less of a must-watch and more of a kinda-cool-if-not-entirely-relevant look at how Anthropologie creates its mix of amazing in-store furniture. Turns out the items look like an admittedly amazing combination of random stuff because they are an admittedly amazing combination of random stuff. If they start showing prices (doubtful) this show becomes 100% more interesting. Otherwise, it's just kind of a travel diary. verdict: draw.

HUGEmongous jewelry. It's never a good thing when your first thought upon seeing a mail order is, "that's a much bigger box than I expected." So goes my continuing adventures in ordering Anthropologie jewelry. I ordered the Hardwood Necklace for a trip. When I opened the box I discovered not a big necklace with coils of wood beads close to my neck but a HUGE ONE determined to make me and the ground good friends. It was beautiful but had its own gravitational pull. I respect my back. I want it to keep me upright. verdict: miss.

Catalog collaborations. In 2009 Anthropologie decided to experiment with their catalogs to mixed results. The June collab with Hatch Show Print was AMAZING and was drooled over by the press deservedly. But some of the catalogs were just head-scratching. The May underwater shots? Impractical. The March nouveau fonts and grainy shots? Disappointing. Luckily come fall Anthropologie has redeemed itself with a string of classic, gorgeous catalogs. I'm all for evolution but why mess with the best? Keep your catalogs just the way they are. verdict: March-May: miss. Everything else: hit.

Website redesign. Hey, this internet thing turned out to be a pretty big deal! 2009 say many top retailers redo their website as e-commerce revenues grew exponentially. Major kudos are due to Anthropologie who succeeded in refreshing their look without shifting their identity too much all while unveiling killer new features. This is one of the best redesigns I've seen in awhile and I'm a picky, picky elitist e-commerce critic. (I've got the background for it.) The best new feature is clearly the reviews. Anthropologie deserves credit for publishing reviews both positive and negative. The wish list is horribly broken right now due to the damn redirects but I'm confident Anthro will work it all out. It's a beautiful site and more importantly, a functional one. verdict: hit.

photo credit: Racked

Designer collaborations. Anthropologie isn't the originator of diffusion lines but this year they let it be known that they were working on a few. By far the most publicized (and most intuitive) was the partnership with Ruffian, which yielded the duo's feminine artistry at more digestible prices. It wasn't all roses -- there are some fit consistency issues and some items are languishing on the sale rack -- but overall I'd say it's a success. I can't wait to see more in 2010. verdict: hit.

What trends did I miss? How do you feel Anthropologie did with the items above?