What Millennials and Gen Z are buying now: Afterpay report

Close icon

Get Afterpay for your business

Sign up

Afterpay’s biannual global trends report reveals what – and when - Australians and New Zealanders are shopping


Shops, restaurants and offices may have reopened, but the global pandemic is still affecting what we’re wearing and how we shop.


That’s one of the key findings of Afterpay’s latest global fashion and beauty report, which identified denim overalls, relaxed separates, flat shoes and self-care as among the top trends in Australia.


Afterpay recently aggregated purchases made by 13 million customers, with an average age of 36 in Australia and 35 in New Zealand, across its stable of more than 74,000 brands and retailers worldwide. As well as pinpointing which pieces and brands were trending, the report also made some surprising discoveries about the way Australians shop – all of which offer valuable insights for retailers.


How Australasians like to shop


Australians prefer to shop at lunchtime, which may explain why only 80 per cent shop from a mobile device (compared to 93 per cent in the UK). They like stocking up on accessories, and buy almost seven pieces at once, on average, compared to three pieces in the US and UK.


Australians and New Zealanders tend to shop for clothing at the beginning of week, with pointelle jumpers and sweatpants among the most popular items to buy on a Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Accessories like headwraps and jewellery tend to be bought on Fridays and Saturdays. (This is the opposite of the UK, where accessories tend to be purchased early in the week.)


What we’re buying


Denim overalls topped Afterpay’s ‘Hot List’ in Australia, with stylist Lucy Wood pointing out that overalls, boilersuits and jumpsuits are all part of the ‘90s revival. Other ‘90s-era styles, like bucket hats and floral surf shirts also made an appearance in Afterpay’s report. “There’s a big trend referencing ‘90s surf culture. This past summer was when the ‘Hawaiian shirt’ felt cool again.”


Heading into winter, cosy fabrics like Teddy are still trending, along with muted colours like lilac, camel and jade. Puffer jackets are emerging as a key style for winter, and knitted skirts are a newly popular style, and part of a trend for knitwear to come through in unexpected pieces, like dresses and polo tops.


A trend for comfort and mindful consumption


Afterpay futurist Geraldine Wharry isn’t surprised to see natural, knitted fibres trending, and says the pandemic has prompted many people to prioritise comfort and wellbeing, along with slower and more mindful consumption. “It doesn’t mean dressing without effort and style, it just means dressing for our own comfort and wellbeing.”

It doesn’t mean dressing without effort and style, it just means dressing for our own comfort and wellbeing.

- Afterpay futurist Geraldine Wharry

It’s unsurprising, then, that the most popular footwear styles are all flats. “I can’t give a solid prediction of when [heels] will be back,” says Wharry. “But what I can say is that fashion trends are cyclical and heels are part of our vocabulary.” In other words, utility and practicality may rule in today’s post-pandemic world, but heels will likely be back.


Wharry believes that one of the biggest trends to emerge from the pandemic is a growing, global awareness of the environment, and believes that retailers must shift to sustainable systems as soon as possible.


The return of joy


However, she also foresees a return to joyful dressing as a need for escape. “In times of stress and recession, there is a rise in colour, shine and habits that inspire joy – look at the Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression and the 2008 recession, and what followed in terms of the ‘experience economy’ and explosion of colour and play in collections. So, it’s fair to expect a need for joy and escape to express oneself through fashion, post-pandemic.”


All of which helps explain one of the big surprises of Afterpay’s Global Trends report: the appearance of rollerskates among the top five footwear trends (likely fuelled by a wave of social media influencers taking up skating during the pandemic) – and proves that some trends can’t be predicted at all.


You can read the full Afterpay Global Fashion and Beauty Trends report here.


Anna Saunders is the former executive editor of marie claire Australia and associate editor of British marie claire. She is the co-founder of PRIMER.  

 All references to any registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Afterpay does not endorse or recommend any one particular supplier and the information provided is for educational purposes only.