Photo by Liza Summer: Woman choosing clothes in a store

7 Consumer Trends to Shape Wholesale Retail in 2023

Over the last three years, the retail industry has gone through many changes, and alongside this, the way consumers shop. Both retailers and consumers have had to adapt to an increasingly digital landscape that has created more personalized experiences, global discovery and a diverse distribution of brands.

Shoppers have also formed new patterns, which have influenced their shopping habits and the products they are purchasing, whether it’s handmade pieces from sustainable brands or items by Black-owned brands. And as fashion trends emerge, consumers will be looking to their local boutiques or favorite retail stores for their version of it. This provides an opportunity for wholesale retailers or independent boutiques to help their customers discover new designers and new products they may not otherwise come across. Which is why it is important for retailers to stay updated with what consumers value, and anticipate their needs before every buy and assortment. 

Consumers have shown a commitment to prioritizing value-based shopping, choosing brands that are women-owned or sustainably minded. Here are some of our predictions for the buying trends that will drive wholesale planning in 2023.

Handmade jewelry by Meraki Jewellery Design

01. Handmade accessories

Handmade accessories – such as jewelry, hats and bags – is a fashion trend that is gaining popularity because consumers are interested in products crafted by hand and using artisanal skills. There are a few reasons why: the handmade process allows for greater creativity, handcrafted products are more environmentally friendly than mass-produced items and jewelry pieces made by hand tend to have a story behind them, which makes them more special and meaningful. Many artists will tell you about their inspiration behind their designs or how they came up with their ideas for each handmade piece that they create. There is an authenticity about them that cannot be matched by mass produced items because they are often unique and one-of-a-kind. For example, each piece of handcrafted jewelry from South African brand Meraki, is different from the next because it was made by hand and not by machines; each one will have its own unique characteristics such as style, shape, size, color and texture. Customers want products that feel authentic and comfortable, like they were made by people who really care about their craftsmanship.

Discover handmade products here


02. Sustainable and fair-trade brands

The past few years have seen a shift toward values-based shopping. According to data from Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, the number of consumers who are interested in products made by companies that share their values has increased by 17% since 2016. The reason behind this shift is simple: people want to feel confident that the brands they support are doing right by them, their communities, and the planet. Consumers have also become more concerned about how their purchases affect other people’s livelihoods, which has increased their interest in supporting companies that treat their employees fairly and pay them living wages. According to the Nielsen study, about 60% of American consumers say that they make purchasing decisions based on how products impact people or animals, which is up from 47% in 2017. The good news is that there are plenty of brands working hard to make their products sustainable and if you’re looking for some guidance on where to start, you can find some of them here on Connect, including Asha Eleven, LilaBare and Fouta Harissa.

Discover sustainable brands here 


Gendre-neutral fashion design by Rich Mnisi

03. Gender-neutral fashion

According to a study conducted by the University of Southern California's Center for Deliberate Innovation, younger consumers (particularly Gen-Z) are more likely to shop across gender lines, and they’re looking for clothes that make them feel good, not clothes that conform to outdated notions of what men and women “should” wear. This growing interest in gender-neutral fashion and changing attitudes toward gender are two major factors driving this trend. The study also found that 63% of all millennial respondents had purchased clothing from a store that had both men’s and women’s clothing, while around half of Gen-Z globally have purchased fashion outside of their gender identity.

Discover genderless brands here


04. Clean beauty

Natural skincare products have become increasingly popular as many consumers prefer to use natural ingredients in their skincare routines. Clean beauty is not just about staying away from harsh chemicals anymore, conscious skincare customers are looking for products that don’t cause irritation, that clear up the skin or maintain shiny hair, and are willing to pay for it. The Soil Association reported an 11th consecutive year of growth for this market, with more than 15% increase in 2021 of certified organic and natural products that took the market worth to £138.23m. There are many options that retailers can provide for their beauty consumers, from non-toxic nail polishes and cruelty-free conditioners to natural body butters and organic moisturizers.

Discover skincare brands here 


Woven planters by Mia Mélange

05. Nature-inspired home decor

As the world becomes more and more digital, consumers are craving a return to the natural. The idea of living in a modern world where everything is streamlined and efficient can be appealing, but it can also seem cold and impersonal. To combat these feelings, consumers are turning to earthy decor that feels cozy. Many people are moving away from the traditional, bright colors of the past and into a more natural style that’s full of woven rope baskets such as the ones from Mia Mélange or plant-dyed wool rugs by the North African artisans at TUNIQ.

Discover homeware brands here


06. Minimalist fashion

The trend for minimalist fashion is here to stay. In fact, it was the fastest-growing style of clothing in 2018 and is projected to continue growing in popularity through 2023 and beyond. People favor simple, clean designs over flashy and overly embellished clothing items because they want to look good without being too flashy or ostentatious. Minimalism is all about simplicity and getting back to basics, and for many people, that means looking for clothing that doesn’t have too many bells and whistles. Minimalist fashion also focuses on high-quality materials, like cotton and hemp, as opposed to synthetic fabrics. In addition to its popularity among consumers, minimalist fashion is also popular among brands because it allows them to stand out from competitors by offering unique items. This makes it an excellent opportunity for businesses looking for new ways to reach shoppers online.

07. New discoveries

Customers are also often on the hunt for new and exclusive products from brands in order to make themselves stand out from other shoppers in their social circle. Young consumers in particular are passing on popular trends and are instead looking for items that bring out their personal style. Shoppers that are open to discover new products and brands provide an opportunity for retailers to increase their assortment of new product ranges and designers on their shelves.


New to The Folklore Connect? Sign up to shop wholesale or apply to sell as a brand