Year in Review: Trends Anthropologie took on in 2009

2009 was a year of strange fashion trends to begin with — the convergence of the early 1960s, 1980s and 1920s has made for some…unique…looks. Anthropologie is by no means alone in taking on some of these pieces. But aren’t they lucky that this blog is all about them? Let’s revisit some of Anthro’s hits and misses, shall we?

Harem Pants. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. My main issue here is that I fail to see where harem pants fit into the Anthropologie aesthetic. Did we get a little lost at meandering journeys and end up at the Pyramids? Did our whimsy get crossed up with our genies? Did someone who works at Anthropologie just lose a bet? Let’s forget this ever happened. verdict: miss.

Rompers. Youthful, playful and utterly ridiculous, rompers have made a comeback in ways that even Nostradamus couldn’t have predicted. While Sine’s Two-Birds Romper wasn’t a success on me I did end up buying one by Helmut Lang. You can even winterize it! As I said back in May if a romper is wrong then I don’t want to be right. verdict: hit.

Jumpers. Speaking of signs of the apocalypse, I think rompers, jumpers and acid wash are 3 of the 4 horsemen. We are getting dangerously close to the edge Anthropologie. While rompers seem like summer delights to me I’m struggling to find a justification for pants attached to shirts. Not only is it hard to use the bathroom in these things but it’s impossible to make them just the right length for everyone. So we talls are ready for the flood while the petite among us are drowning in inseam. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? verdict: miss.

Crap under $50. Hysterically, the email Anthropologie sent for this had two items that were actually over $50. Heh. J.Crew befell a similar fate so I’m loathe to poke too much fun. I know the economy is rough right now. But let’s be honest. When your basic tee costs $58 and you regularly carry items that retail for over $500, is anyone going to take your efforts to be frugal seriously? Focus on what differentiates you, Anthro. Quality materials and interesting pieces. I’m not coming to Anthro for my layering tees and tanks. And if I do have $50 to blow I’m not blowing it on a damn feather headband. verdict: miss.

Batwings. The May email was oddly clinical, showing the tops like specimens. But I found most of Anthropologie’s batwing tops to be very appealing and draped in ways that fit into the store’s vibe. Their use of bold prints and luscious fabrics has made me a fan. They are not forever classics but this is one trend it made sense to see Anthropologie interpret. And they did an excellent job. verdict: hit.

Reality shows. Anthropologie is the last brand I would have expected to get involved in the reality show arena but they entered the circus with a quality entry in “Man Shops Globe.” Head Anthropologie Buyer Keith Johnson was fun to tag along with and seems like a cool guy to know. This cross of The Amazing Race, Antiques Roadshow and Jersey Shore (ok, just threw that last one in to make sure you were paying attention) ended up less of a must-watch and more of a kinda-cool-if-not-entirely-relevant look at how Anthropologie creates its mix of amazing in-store furniture. Turns out the items look like an admittedly amazing combination of random stuff because they are an admittedly amazing combination of random stuff. If they start showing prices (doubtful) this show becomes 100% more interesting. Otherwise, it’s just kind of a travel diary. verdict: draw.

HUGEmongous jewelry. It’s never a good thing when your first thought upon seeing a mail order is, “that’s a much bigger box than I expected.” So goes my continuing adventures in ordering Anthropologie jewelry. I ordered the Hardwood Necklace for a trip. When I opened the box I discovered not a big necklace with coils of wood beads close to my neck but a HUGE ONE determined to make me and the ground good friends. It was beautiful but had its own gravitational pull. I respect my back. I want it to keep me upright. verdict: miss.

Catalog collaborations. In 2009 Anthropologie decided to experiment with their catalogs to mixed results. The June collab with Hatch Show Print was AMAZING and was drooled over by the press deservedly. But some of the catalogs were just head-scratching. The May underwater shots? Impractical. The March nouveau fonts and grainy shots? Disappointing. Luckily come fall Anthropologie has redeemed itself with a string of classic, gorgeous catalogs. I’m all for evolution but why mess with the best? Keep your catalogs just the way they are. verdict: March-May: miss. Everything else: hit.

Website redesign. Hey, this internet thing turned out to be a pretty big deal! 2009 say many top retailers redo their website as e-commerce revenues grew exponentially. Major kudos are due to Anthropologie who succeeded in refreshing their look without shifting their identity too much all while unveiling killer new features. This is one of the best redesigns I’ve seen in awhile and I’m a picky, picky elitist e-commerce critic. (I’ve got the background for it.) The best new feature is clearly the reviews. Anthropologie deserves credit for publishing reviews both positive and negative. The wish list is horribly broken right now due to the damn redirects but I’m confident Anthro will work it all out. It’s a beautiful site and more importantly, a functional one. verdict: hit.

photo credit: Racked

Designer collaborations. Anthropologie isn’t the originator of diffusion lines but this year they let it be known that they were working on a few. By far the most publicized (and most intuitive) was the partnership with Ruffian, which yielded the duo’s feminine artistry at more digestible prices. It wasn’t all roses — there are some fit consistency issues and some items are languishing on the sale rack — but overall I’d say it’s a success. I can’t wait to see more in 2010. verdict: hit.

What trends did I miss? How do you feel Anthropologie did with the items above?


  1. December 30, 2009 / 6:23 pm

    Love the "Crap under $50" paragraph. Come on, really Anthro.! So funny.

  2. December 30, 2009 / 7:02 pm

    Love your blog, Roxy, because you put an analytical spin on our admittedly frivolous obsession! I so appreciate the creative energy and professionalism you bring to this – such a pleasure to read.Your take on the trends Anthro indulged in during 2009 was right on! I never got the concept of harem pants…Two popular trends that I was surprised to see at Anthro were/are the boyfriend jeans (ill-fitting, ugly, beaten up) and plaid shirts (the lumberjack variety). How do these "styles" fit in with Anthro's aesthetic? They seem to be a vast digression from the pieces Anthro customers usually look for (vintage, unique, feminine…).

  3. December 30, 2009 / 7:04 pm

    Oh my, I forgot about the harem pants! That was definitely a low point for Anthro. I think after that, I didn't even bother looking at their stuff for weeks. Not until the fall catalog touched my hands anyway.

  4. Mirei
    December 30, 2009 / 7:35 pm

    I love anthro's web design as well! Do you know who these designers are??

  5. Anonymous
    December 30, 2009 / 7:49 pm

    have to disagree about the website — i love the reviews, but i do not love the strange things that happen when i click shopping back or the numerous js alerts complaining about coremetrics or arcsniff. amen on the jumper/romper thing though.

  6. Betsy
    December 30, 2009 / 7:50 pm

    Jennifer, love everything you said! I really, really don't understand the plaid thing. In particular there were a couple of plaid flannel-ish shirts with tiebacks that seriously looked like they came straight out of an early 90s made for TV teen movie. I could picture Shannon Doherty wearing them with Doc Martens and burgundy lipstick!I didn't understand the catalog where they took underwater pictures of everything. I know it was meant to be artsy and creative but all I could do was cringe as I thought about how the water must have ruined those pieces. "I know! Let's dump this $400 leather bag in a swimming pool to take its picture!" Riiiiight. The catalog with the blurry/grainy pictures also did me in. What's the point of a catalog if not to show off the clothes? Showing them as far away, out-of-focus blurs does not help your cause.

  7. December 30, 2009 / 8:34 pm

    love the comment about the signs of the apocalypse.I also hated the harem pants, too mc hammer for me.Thanks for the funny post

  8. December 30, 2009 / 9:15 pm

    I agree that the Ruffian designer collaboration was a hit overall, the pieces were beautiful quality and the designs fit with Anthropologie's aesthetic. The disappointment for me was that the sizing was not typical for Anthro in that they fit pretty large overall, particularly the coats and jackets. I don't find this a problem with most of the in house lines that Anthro carries and wish this hadn't been the case for the Ruffian pieces…I do look forward to more of this type of thing though as you say :)Thanks for the great insightful, interesting and fun blog. Happy New Year.

  9. December 30, 2009 / 9:37 pm

    Hilarious post! I wholeheartedly agree with many of the points that have been mentioned.May catalog – the underwater shots were an interesting concept, but they really didn't make me want to buy any of Anthro's products (plus, as others have mentioned, I cringed at the thought of such beautiful items being ruined!). I also wasn't a huge fan of the July catalog. The shadow puppets were an interesting idea but, once again, they didn't really make me want to purchase anything. The catalogs that I most like are the really fantastical ones (ex. November 2009) or the ones shot in exotic locations (ex. January 2009).

  10. December 30, 2009 / 9:40 pm

    As a side note, I wish that Anthro would post sizing info for designers who vary widely from the in-house brands. They already do this for bathing suits, and I think it would help with some of the hassle of constantly removing products from the website and then re-adding them after returns are made.

  11. December 30, 2009 / 9:45 pm

    Misses for me? Anything one piece! I can't even wear a one piece bathing suit (long or not), and I hate the feeling of a wedgie. Plus, my ass is not built for it. Besides, I just don't like the look. I never even put my child in one piece rompers. I agree with Jennifer, I love how you write. Honest, never mean and just a pleasure to read. Ooohhh, I sound like a suck-up. Rest assured, unless this baby comes soon, these are the last kind words that will come from my mouth. I am sure my husband will be so happy to know you are the recipient of those last nice words and not him. Of course, you didn't get me into this mess.

  12. December 30, 2009 / 10:27 pm

    Hahahaha the HAREM PANTS! I had totally forgot about how incredibly awful that was! Let's hope they don't make a return…

  13. December 30, 2009 / 10:36 pm

    Such a funny post! Thanks for the insightful, pithy recap…

  14. December 30, 2009 / 11:47 pm

    I agree: the batwing garments were especially nice. I bought one of them listed in the picture within your post (the Mothwing Cardigan by Tee Party in brown) and it's absolutely wonderful. It's arty yet casual and so comfortable– I can dress it up or down.

  15. December 31, 2009 / 1:46 pm

    Yahoo has a list of the 11 worst trends of the decade- number one? Harem pants.

  16. December 31, 2009 / 2:41 pm

    Blondmoma, I remember laughing when I got that email. I love Anthro to death but that was more than a little out of character. Jennifer & Georgine, you ladies are far too kind. Thank you for the lovely compliment. :)Tien – I was so confused by Anthro's spring stuff that I started to question whether I was still going to shop there. (Just for a second.) Luckily they course-corrected nicely.Mirei – I'm pretty sure it was an in-house job. Anthropologie staffs a fantastic design team. Back in April Adobe ran a feature on the team, here's the post.Betsy – confession time. I loves me some plaid. Please don't hold it against me!Ali & Maria – Oh, harem pants. Doomed to be repeated. But why?Sydneygirl – I 100% agree. I tried on the coat from the collection and was swimming in a size 4. They need to resolve the fit consistency issues.Lola – I wish they would do a complete sizing guide too. That is one thing the site is sorely missing. Glenda – Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the post. :)Miriah – I was a doubter at first but I came around. My Lemon Valley Scoopneck is a favorite among friends.Georgine, that sounds about right. 😉

  17. January 5, 2010 / 1:13 am

    Oh my gosh, did Anthro really try to sell us harem pants at one point? I must have blocked that out 🙂

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