July 13, 2024

Taylor Swift sets summer’s hottest dress code: Sequins, boots, cowboy hats

What’s the dress code of Summer 2023? Call it TikTok-approved coastal cowgirl aesthetic. Or, in other words, the Taylor Swift look.

With the superstar entertainer pulling in record-breaking crowds for “The Eras Tour,” retailers across the country are marketing to “Swifties,” aggressively and inventively, as her 52-stadium tour hits their towns.

Women’s clothing-company founder Taylor Johnson said that, from one Taylor to another, she owes Swift a big “Thank You” for going on tour again and making sparkly sequined dresses, cowboy hats and rhinestone boots massively saleable. “This has become a wild year already for us because of Taylor Swift,” said Johnson, CEO of Hazel & Olive.

Left: Francesca's said ruffle, bow back and babydoll style dresses are seeing a 30% jump in sales. Right: Taylor Johnson, founder and CEO of Hazel & Olive, wearing The Eras Sequin Fringe Dress.

One of their dresses in particular, called The Eras Sequin Fringe Dress, which retails for $129, is on fire. “Our phones have been blowing up and we’ve been getting hundreds of calls and Instagram messages about that dress,” she said.

Francesca’s, a fashion chain with 454 boutiques nationwide, expected Swift’s tour to have an impact. But ruffle, prairie, babydoll and bow-back style dresses get a 30% jump in sales at the stores when Swift is in town, said Leanne Neale, vice president of concept and creative with the Houston company.

Trendy clothing chain Altar’d State has proactively gone all-in on Swift mania by curating looks from its collection for every one of the Swift albums. “Enter your Era,” it invites.

The Ticketmaster mess

Swift’s “The Eras Tour,” was infamous before it even began. The concerts were so wildly anticipated that ticket presale on Ticketmaster became a highly publicized debacle. Ticketmaster blamed extraordinary demand for crashing its website and eventually canceled ticket sales to the public. Many were left without a ticket even after purchase.

The mess drew the ire of lawmakers, leading to a Justice Department investigation and a congressional hearing.

Taylor Swift performs onstage during night one of Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour at Nissan Stadium on May 05, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ticketmaster apologized to Swift and her fans for the “terrible experience” and said it would work to “shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand” for Swift’s tour.

That was too little too late for some fans who took Ticketmaster (and parent company Live Nation) to court.

But the show must go on, and it did, with Swift headed to New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium (seating capacity: 82,500) for shows into and over the Memorial Day weekend.

On the fringe

At Altar’d State, “We’ve never prepped stores this way but we’re calling it Taylor week,” said Callie Lewis, chief merchandising officer. Mannequins wearing Swift-inspired looks are placed front and center in their stores along with other concert-friendly merchandise such as clear handbags that meet security protocols at concert venues.

What’s moving? Everything from sundresses and metallic boots to romantic, breezy long dresses, tulle tops, daring red gowns and lots and lots and lots of fringe. “We can’t restock fast enough,” said Lewis. Hot sellers include lavender-colored clothing (inspired by Swift’s song Lavender Haze.)

Altar'd State stores have curated Taylor Swift looks for concert goers.

Swift isn’t the only hot concert tour influencing the fashion business in 2023. Neale at francesca’s said she’s looking to Beyonce’s “Renaissance” tour firing up demand for concertwear, too. Francesca’s stores, she said will also curate looks that appeal to the BeyHive.

Hazel & Olive’s Taylor Johnson admits that all this mad dash for product is a good problem to have, given that as much as 80% of the retailer’s monthly orders currently are for concert looks. (She declined to disclose her annual sales but said she operates a multimillion-dollar-a-year small business)

Beyonce fans queue to enter to the Friends Arena to watch her first concert of the World Tour named "Renaissance", in Solna, north of Stockholm on May 10, 2023.

Johnson said she’s been ordering the maximum quantity of the most in-demand concert styles from her supplier, but even that’s not enough, lately.

“As soon as I get more inventory in, it sells outs quickly,” she said, adding that she’s even flying in merchandise at a higher cost from her suppliers in China, instead of shipping it via sea as she usually does, in order to speed up delivery. As for the Taylor Swift bump to business, Johnson said she’s grateful for it.

“This is crazy. I need Taylor Swift to go on concert year-round because we’re now on pace to have our biggest sales year yet,” she said.

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