As crazy as it sounds, we're readying for the holiday season, and unlike last year's celebrations (or lack thereof), we're expecting a major turnout for 2021. With so many people once again traveling to see friends and family for the holidays, one major plot point naturally comes to mind: gifts. But according to experts across the retail landscape, securing the perfect presents for your loved ones might not be as simple as it was pre-pandemic. Sure, there's a lot to be optimistic about right now, but manufacturers are still struggling to get back to the way things were, so if you want your gifts to arrive in time for the holidays, there are a few extra factors to consider.
First things first: The entire gift-buying process has shifted ahead, with many people opting to start their shopping now instead of waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday. "Traditional doorbuster holidays like Black Friday no longer mark the beginning of the holidays," says Megan Gokey, the head of U.S. marketing at all-in-one shopping app Klarna. In fact, according to Klarna's 2021 Holidays Unwrapped report, 22% of shoppers have already begun checking off gifts on their loved one's wish lists, and many more will be following suit as we get closer and closer to the season of giving.
According to Alison Stiefel, general manager at fashion search engine ShopStyle, this shift is a direct result of many retailers struggling to get inventory, which is why we've seen so many have limited stock. "Demand is there, but supply is not," Stiefel says. And that was before the holidays. By the time the year's busiest shopping season truly begins, scarcely anything will be left, especially when it comes to items that are especially popular. To offset this, "retailers are marketing their key items and bets for the holiday season earlier, [resulting in] people thinking, 'If I want to get that one specific bag that I'm interested in purchasing and there's only two left, I need to do it now,'" says Stiefel.
Since we know how busy the holiday season can be, we're encouraging you not to procrastinate. Instead, get your gift shopping done with time to spare. Ahead, you'll find 2021's most sought-after gifts, otherwise known as the ones you'll need to buy early (like now!).
Due to an influx of inventory issues, gifts are going to be more difficult to get ahold of during the holidays, especially if you don't get to work early. The task becomes even trickier when those gifts are already hard to come by. Think rare sneakers and bags as well as frequently sold-out styles.
Of course, according to Klarna's 2021 report, the latter are the exact types of items that many people are asking for—Gen Z specifically. On Gen Z's list of most-wished-for gifts is Telfar's Medium Cerulean Shopping Bag, Skims's Sculpting Waist Trainer, and Nike's Air Jordan 1 Mid Barely Orange and Dunk Low Retro sneakers. In other words, start scouring the internet now.
We hate to tell you this, but this bag is currently sold out. Though, if you're eyeing a Telfar Shopping Bag—either for yourself or one of your loved ones—you probably already knew that. If you shopped early, perhaps you snagged one or two of the covetable totes during the brand's Bag Security Program, but if not, keep your eyes peeled for drops ahead of the holidays.
There are a few Medium Shopping Bags left in green on Amazon, but only if you act fast.
No retailer can seem to keep these black leather Boston clogs in stock. Luckily, we did manage to find one place with plenty of sizing options. Though, it isn't likely to stay that way for long.
Skims pieces are notoriously hard to get your hands on, with many of the brand's top pieces selling out in record time. (Nice going, Kim.) This bodysuit is no different, which is probably why so many women want one this year. "The items topping women's wish lists include all things Skims, [specifically] the brand's Waist Trainer and Sculpting Snaps Bodysuit," says Gokey.
According to Klarna's 2021 report, members of Gen Z and millennials are in agreement that these high-top Nikes are a must for 2022. It's no wonder, then, that they're sold out on the retail market. Thankfully, resale outlets are loaded with them, in both brand-new and used conditions.
"Millennials (60%) and Gen Zers (47%) are more likely than older shoppers to wait for the holiday season to splurge on luxury purchases for reasons including better sales and deals and having extra money to spend with work holiday bonuses, so we expect to see an increase in purchases within the luxury category among those audiences," says Gokey. In fact, according to Klarna's 2021 report, shoppers are planning to spend the most this season on fashion and apparel.
Some of those big-ticket items include the Saint Laurent Lou Mini and Gucci Ophidia shoulder bags as well as Chanel's Chance Eau Tendre fragrance.
According to Gokey, Saint Laurent's Lou Mini crossbody bag gave Telfar's Shopping Bag a run for its money this season, landing in the top-three most-wished-for-gifts section for women.
Bonus points if you customize this bracelet with the name of the loved one you're gifting it to—an added feature that's only possible when you order said bracelet ahead of time.
Apparently, everyone wants a chance to smell like Chanel. At least, that's what Klarna found to be true this holiday season.
Though not as in demand as a Telfar or Saint Laurent bag this holiday season, Gucci's Ophidia Shoulder Bags remain a top priority for gifts. In fact, all Gucci bags do, with ShopStyle reporting an 83% spike in search volume for the brand's handbags compared to this same time in 2020.
When it comes to luxury, there really isn't anything better than a vintage Rolex. And since, according to Gokey, consumers' wallets are expanding this year, there's no better time than now to treat your loved ones to the fullest extent this holiday season, if possible.
Comfort Gifts—With a Twist
"Last year, we saw a lot of athleisure and comfortwear [during the holiday season], while this year, we're seeing that people are still looking for comfort, but it's comfort with a twist," says Stiefel. According to her, consumers are craving that same cozy feeling they've always loved around the holiday season, but pieces have to look the part, too.
"Sweaters are a big trending category right now, but mostly sweaters that have embellishment, fringe, or puffy sleeves," she says. "Chunky and platform sneakers are big trends that we're seeing search for [ahead of the holidays] as well as puffy, quilted bags with a chain." Essentially, it's leisurewear 2.0, and it's on everyone's shopping lists this gift-giving (and getting!) season.
Given that Ugg's latest It style already has stamps of approval from Gigi Hadid and Elsa Hosk, the Tazz Mule will, no doubt, make it onto many wish lists this holiday season. Get these fashion-friendly slippers before literally everyone else.
The vest silhouette, bold color, and crystal embellishments put this Ganni knit on our list of sure-fire sellouts ahead of the holiday season.
Yes, we want comfort, especially around the holidays, but it's not all we want. With the added chain, this bag is the perfect combination of style and leisure.
Nothing feels more appropriate for the holidays than a pajama set that doubles as holiday party attire.
Gifts for Entertaining
"While last year focused on cozy gifts for staying safe at home, this year, we're seeing people gift in an entirely different way, purchasing [presents] for entertaining, attending gatherings, and being back in person with loved ones they haven't seen for a while," says Stephanie Roberson, chief merchandising officer at Shopbop. "Candles, homeware, and a great apron will be big hitters for the holidays."
This isn't your average candle, which is why whoever receives it will be so delighted. We suggest adding in a scented candle as well, though, since no one's going to want to burn this masterpiece.
Finding an apron that's actually cute is harder than you think. Now that you have found one, go ahead and wrap it up before someone else buys it first.
To capture all the memories made throughout the holiday season. (Don't forget film.)
With this room spray, the entire house will smell like the holidays. Aah.
If you're not shopping for a younger friend or family member, keep scrolling. According to Klarna's 2021 report, 65% of the Gen Zers surveyed used Instagram as their main source of gift discovery. Because of that, we expect to see a spike in searches for Instagram trends and brands—like tinted sunglasses and Gauge81 pieces—as many set out to purchase gifts for their favorite Gen Zers.
With so many Gen Zers sourcing their wish lists on Instagram, it was inevitable that tinted sunglasses (specifically, yellow-tinted ones) would see a spike in pre-holiday popularity.
Good luck finding someone on Instagram who isn't wearing their hair up in one of these claw clips.
This $80 shoulder bag is utterly ubiquitous, having been spotted on every micro-influencer on Instagram as well as on Emily Ratajkowski. Now that's range.
According to ShopStyle, shoppers are especially conscious about shopping smaller indie brands, notably ones like Gauge81, a Latina-owned label that's seen a 67% increase in search volume on ShopStyle going into the holidays.
Trust us—if you gift one of these candy-colored rings to a member of Gen Z, you'll be the hit of the holidays.
"This year, we have been seeing [especially high] support of diverse and inclusive designs," says Stiefel. According to her, it's not necessarily all about a specific item or gift. Many want to use the holiday season to support Black, Latin, and AAPI designers as well.
These knot hoops are a perfect example of how to spend a reasonable amount of money on a gift that will still hold a great deal of meaning for the (eventual) owner.
This is a hoodie that supersedes all others. Designed by best-friend duo Phyllis Chan and Suzzie Chung, the asymmetric, intricately woven knit was proudly made in China, just like every single piece by YanYan.
Edas founder Sade Mims knows how to design a chic and sustainable handbag, as proven by this mint-chip shoulder bag.
This top by Latinx, Miami-based designer Simonett Pereira does it all, crisscrossing in different ways to create a variety of different looks. It's no wonder it's viral on TikTok.
Brother Vellies designer Aurora James wasn't kidding when she named these slouchy tube socks after clouds. They're actually that comfy, which is why the Cloud Socks are constantly selling out. Get a pair for everyone on your nice list before it's too late.
Next up, 28 Fantastic Finds From The Outnet's Annual Clearance Sale
Eliza Huber is a New York City–based fashion editor who specializes in trend reporting, brand discovery, and celebrity style. She joined Who What Wear in 2021 after almost four years on the fashion editorial team at Refinery29, the job she took after graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Iowa. She has since launched two monthly columns, Let's Get a Room and Ways to Wear; profiled the likes of Dakota Fanning, Diane Kruger, Katie Holmes, and Sabrina Carpenter for WWW's monthly cover features; and reported on everything from the relationship between Formula One and fashion to the top trends from fashion month, season after season. Eliza now lives on the Upper West Side and spends her free time researching F1 fashion imagery for her side Instagram accounts @thepinnacleoffashion and @f1paddockfits, running in Central Park, and scouring eBay for '90s Prada and '80s Yves Saint Laurent.
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