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I Know What You Wore Last Summer

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Summer has come and gone, and with that, we say goodbye to our sundresses and sandals. But besides the obvious seasonal choices, what is it that South Africans have been loving recently?

The pandemic threw us quite the curveball over the festive season, keeping most of us indoors, with beaches closed and nighttime establishments closing earlier due to the strict curfew. We’ve had to change up our plans, and with that our wardrobes. Local value fashion e-tailer RunwaySale tallied up their sales to show which items were loved over the summer, and which areas in the country loved them most.

Comfort is still king

No surprise here, as the trend of loungewear continues to soar as we continue our less social lives indoors. For both women and men, items like hoodies, sweats and t-shirts were part of the top three most-bought items during the month of February - a whopping 77% increase from last year. Perhaps this was time to stock up on warmer clothing pieces for the upcoming winter season? However we look at it, people are still choosing function and comfort in their shopping trips now, and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.

Provincial preferences

Within our country, we certainly have many cultures, and even more ways of dressing. There are different items of clothing that stood out in sales above the rest, like the Eastern Cape and Limpopo whose most popular January purchases were shoes, while the rest of the country’s favourite purchases were tops. In February, we saw a climb in coats and jackets for the Free State and North West (stocking up for colder months?) and the Western Cape buying more swimwear, possibly demonstrating the difference in climates for these areas.

Top-selling areas

The top-selling cities in South Africa kicks off with the Gauteng suburb of Benoni, whose favourite items during February were tops, sneakers and hoodies/sweats. They are closely followed by Johannesburg, who also had tops come out as their number one favourite purchase, with watches and sneakers completing their top three. Cape Town follows Johannesburg, with similar items in their top three faves. These three cities make up for 6%, 5% and 5% of sales respectively.

A big year for accessories

The numbers don’t lie, and our adjustment back to level 3 over the festive season showed that we couldn’t splurge as we’d like or usually would have on summer clothing. Across all nine provinces, accessories accounted for the number three best selling category. Perhaps this served as gifts for loved ones, or as a treat to kick off the new year - either way, sunglasses, handbags and other accessories were a firm favourite when adding to carts.

Swimwear still a summer staple

Even with the beach restrictions over most of the hot summer days, people still chose to stock up on swimsuits. In an impressive 60% jump from the year before, shoppers clicked ‘add to cart’ on bikinis more than they did in early 2020. Luckily for most coastal regions in South Africa, warmer weather tends to linger long past March, giving those who made swimwear purchases ample time to make use of their new threads.

The continued rise in comfortable, functional clothing can serve as a sign that the upcoming autumn and winter months will have even more shoppers choosing hoodies, activewear and sweats when purchasing warmer clothing. But as we have seen on runways and across social media, comfort doesn’t mean boring, it can still be made fashionable and trendy.



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