Instagram will have you believe that everyone spends the summer in bodycon cutout dresses, but we’re here to debunk that. Not everyone subscribes to the island of love way of life! The main lines of the world’s best shopping teams are: long sleeves are in, the viral Skims TikTok moment actually equates to big sales, and kaftans aren’t just the reserve of British holidays at the moment. ‘foreign.
The stealth brand of the season? Vitakin. “Exclusiveness is very important to our customers,” says Hannah Lewis, fashion director at Threads Styling. “They love these linen dresses with long sleeves because they are at the high end of the market and [the exquisite detailing makes them feel] one of a kind.” Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion.com, agrees that the quality of the Ukrainian designer’s linen is so amazing that customers often stock up on the flower-embroidered kaftan in multiple colors.
The craftsmanship-centric nature of Gabriela Hearst dresses also means they outshine their peers, despite the often sky-high prices. “The relaxed, sleek silhouettes are perfect for the warmer months and can be easily worn with flat sandals or platforms for an evening vacation look,” says Wiggins. “The lace-trimmed ombré cashmere-blend dress is a great transitional piece and a modern alternative for clients who don’t want to wear head-to-toe prints. For Lewis, the eco-conscious fashion pioneer’s minimalist yet modest aesthetic is a guaranteed winner for Threads shoppers who like their wardrobe to have a point of difference.
Another name that comes up regularly across the board is Zimmermann, thanks to the Australian brand’s slip dresses that take holidaymakers from St Tropez to Sardinia while looking effortlessly polished. “It’s all about the fabric, the details and the shape,” says Lewis. “The material should be heavy enough to feel luxurious, yet light enough to stay cool in the hot months when customers travel across Europe.”
Soaring sales of Missoni’s signature woven dresses (on Mytheresa.com) and Dolce & Gabbana’s ceramic-print looks (Net-a-porter.com) confirm that customers are looking for color and texture, as well as timeless pieces. “People want to travel and dress up again,” notes Tiffany Hsu, vice president of women’s and kids’ fashion buying at Mytheresa. “Holidays are the perfect time to experiment with trends, prints and colors.”
Molly Goddard is enjoying the color of the season with her candy pink ruched taffeta pieces, which are selling like hot cakes on Matchesfashion.com. “It was refreshing to see such a strong figure in a summer dress,” says Wiggins. “It provides just the right amount of drama for parties and summer events.”
Reformation, a mainstay of wedding guest dress, continues to quietly produce affordable formal wear in the background, while keeping Net-a-porter.com’s profit margins steady. All retailers will benefit from increased sales of the Tagliatelle and Stassie wearable styles after Jennifer Lopez wore them on her honeymoon with Ben Affleck.
Buyers themselves – remember these are the people who see every great designer’s work first – buy The model with knotted straps by Kika Vargas and Bernadette’s Halterneck Sunflower Print Midi (Wiggins), and Maxi ribbed knit Totême and Tove’s hero dresses (Libby Page, Market Director at Net-a-porter.com). “To me, a great summer dress is something that’s easy, versatile, and breathable, but needs a little detail or something extra to help it stand out,” Page shares. “Tove’s dresses are timeless but always on point, and it’s a tough combination to pull off.”
Don’t just take their word for it. Stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, who did her best to make august fashion fun againand Angelina Jolie, queen of the elegant white dress, prove that classic midi styles with a bit of punch (a plaid print there, a cinched waist there) are the best way to luxuriate a wardrobe. summer and ensure it lasts for years to come.