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Photo Credit: Brightland, Vuori, Oncept, LAKE, Beautifect, DJI

McMillanDoolittle’s Picks for 2023’s Hottest Categories and Buzzing Brands to Watch

McMillanDoolittle has kept an eye on the trending categories of 2023, and we have you covered on the brands to watch in the new year. Consider this blog a resource for your holiday gift list, with great options geared toward a range of ages and price points. Check out our team’s hand-picked collection of 12 must-shop categories with more than 70 brands to know across fashion, accessories, beauty, wellness, food, travel, and lifestyle.

  1. Elevated Streetwear: Name brand sweats are amassing appeal with a wide range of consumers due to their versatility, gender-neutrality, and cool aesthetic. Oversized hoodies and sweatpants from brands like Essentials, Madhappy, Anine Bing, Daily Drills, and Favorite Daughter are a sure way to provide style and comfort. The 100+ year old company Carhartt is witnessing a comeback with Gen Z and influencers with its legacy workwear being repositioned as in-style streetwear. Sporty & Rich, with its experiential NYC Flagship store (replete with a juice bar and spa), is an up-and-coming brand worth a browse. Then complete the gift with luxury performance shoes from APL, and slouchy of-the-moment tube socks and a hair claw clip from Free People to transform the look from wearing to styling.
    women in sweatshirts and group of people in athleticwear

    Photo Credit: Daily Drills and Essentials Instagram

  2. Foodie Gifts: Brighten up a meal with the “Drizzle” and “Sizzle” Graza extra virgin oil pair, Truff hot sauce, SideDish sauces from Defined Dish, and Brightland’s oils, vinegars, and honey. These options make great hosting gifts! Gift boxes are also a simple way to send thoughtful, curated specialty foods to friends and family nationwide. Jean Georges’ The Tin Building in New York offers unique gourmet options, and Foxtrot (now sold at Dom’s in Chicago) curates playful boxes for sweet tooths and foodies. When it comes to beverages, Athletic Brewing Co. non-alcoholic beer, pre-biotic sodas like Poppi and Olipop, and coffee alternative MUD\WTR are worth a try. And for the spirits enthusiasts, check out Matthew McConaughey’s recently released tequila, Pantalones Organic.
    gift box of food

    Photo Credit: Foxtrot

  3. Athleisure Options: As consumers increasingly embrace healthy living, athleisure remains a popular category for shoppers. Vuori, originally founded as an athleisure company for men, is a brand to watch due to its versatile and stylish offering that now sells about 50% of its assortment to women. Other brands to explore are Alo Yoga, which recently opened their first Chicago location on Michigan Avenue, and OFFLINE by Aerie, for a more affordable alternative. Performance wear options like Alphalete and YoungLA continue to gain popularity through Instagram. Pair your look with a viral Stanley Cup tumbler or colorful Owala water bottle.
    woman in snow and water bottles

    Photo Credit: Alo Yoga and Owala

  4. Tech for Every Lifestyle: Tech gifts this year are all about the innovation of familiar products. For nature lovers, the Bird Buddy is an AI-powered feeder that photographs bird visitors, and the DJI Mini 4 Pro is a compact drone to capture beautiful nature scenes. For art and music enthusiasts, check out the Crosley turntables and record players and consider the Canon Ivy 2 Mini Photo Printer. For teen gamers, Backbone One attaches to a smartphone to transform the phone into a convenient controller. For workout buffs, relieve pains and aches with the more affordably priced Theragun mini for on-the-go massages.
    game controller and massager

    Photo Credit: Backbone One and Therabody

  5. Wellness Devices and Remedies: Say goodbye to wrinkles, fine lines, and blemishes with the Solawave Radiant Renewal Skincare Wand that uses red light therapy to rejuvenate skin. Give the gift of improved health with the titanium Oura Ring, a wearable device that tracks more than 20 biometrics from sleep habits and heart rate to blood oxygen. Pair your wine and spirits gift with a remedy that prevents hangovers like the pre-alcohol probiotics ZBiotics. Address acne with popular Hero’s Mighty Patches and Starface Hydro-Stars.
    shaving set

    Photo Credit: Solawave

  6. Travel and Creature Comforts: Planning to join the masses on a jet-setting spree in the new year? Consider Away or Monos luggage, a bag tracker such as the Apple Airtag or Samsung SmartTag, and the Benevolence jewelry organizer. Ensure a luxurious night of sleep with pajamas from Eberjey, LAKE, and Roller Rabbit, a weighted eye mask from Thera, and a wellness alarm clocks like Hatch and Loftie. A trending Jellycat stuffed animal is a way to bring joy to bedrooms, too!
    woman in pajamas and alarm clock

    Photo Credit: LAKE and Hatch

  7. Inclusive Beauty: Target and Ulta Beauty partnered with Rihanna’s skin color inclusive Fenty Brand to launch Fenty Snackz – a new collection of accessibly priced mini sized products catered to a new, more aspirational customer base. Thirteen Lune is a digital multi-brand beauty retailer with curated products from BIPOC owned companies. The Outset, a skincare line from Scarlett Johansson, serves all skin types with its gender neutral and sensitive products.
    nail polish

    Photo Credit: Target

  8. Fashion Forward Sneakers: While footwear brands like On and Hoka are still winning hearts with a performance focus, consumers are growing their wallet with fashion forward sneakers. Celebrities and influencers have been fashionably sporting options like the Adidas Samba, Onitsuka Tiger, P448, and New Balance 327 this past year. Up-and-comer Oncept is one to watch.

    Photo Credit: New Balance

  9. Outdoor Adventure Brands: As the DTC business model becomes increasingly treacherous for consumer brands looking to acquire new customers, some digital natives are evolving their strategy by diversifying their brand presence through strategic acquisitions that enhance their offering. Solo Brands is on a growth path, now representing a collection of adventure-oriented, lifestyle DTC brands. Solo Brands includes Solo Stove (smokeless fire pits, stoves, and ovens), Chubbies (retro shorts and swim-trunks), Oru Kayak (foldable kayak), and Isle (affordable paddle boards).
    man on beach with kayak

    Photo Credit: Oru Kayak

  10. Teen Beauty Must-haves: Beauty products are continuing to market toward tweens and teens and often gain popularity through TikTok and other social channels. Sol de Janeiro Perfume Mist, Summer Fridays lip balm, Bubble Skincare products, Touchland hand sanitizer, and Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask make wonderful stocking stuffers for the holidays. Glamnetic press-on nails have also been a hit this year. Consider the Beautifect Box with built-in lighting and ample compartments that ritualize the beauty experience and bring products on-the-go.

    Photo Credit: Sol de Janeiro

  11. Fast Fashion Invasion: Accessibly priced international fast fashion brands, such as Uniqlo (Japan), Aritzia (Canada), Primark (Ireland), Zara (Spain), Princess Polly (Australia), and Hello Molly (Australia) are growing their presence in the US fashion market through established online and expanding brick-and-mortar channels. SHEIN and Temu (both, China) market to price conscious and trend-driven consumers with incredibly low prices.
    store front

    Photo Credit: Aritzia

  12. Beyond Shapewear Brands: SKIMS and Spanx are venturing beyond their historic shapewear offerings and into categories like loungewear, blazers, dresses, and robes. For instance, Kim Kardashian-founded SKIMS just dropped a jersey lounge collection for men, and Spanx has expanded their hit AirEssentials offerings and business casual clothing.
    woman sitting on a stool and a woman standing up

    Photo Credit: Spanx

Want to explore more hot names to know? We always consider more trends and breakout brands than we can capture in the top dozen themes of the season. Reach out if you’d like a copy of the full list of brands to know for inspiration or to add to your shopping list. You can also check out the brands and trends we highlighted in last year’s round-up at this link or on our Instagram holiday 2022 highlight.

To learn more about McMillanDoolittle and how our team can help your brand and customer experience can achieve and maintain a hottest positioning with consumers, contact us for a complementary consultation. To stay up to date on our retail insights, follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Note: McMillanDoolittle is not collecting any commissions from the links provided above.

Maddie McBride

Maddie is an analyst on the consumer insights and innovation team at McMillanDoolittle, supporting quantitative and qualitative primary research methodologies, business analysis, strategic planning, and new concept, format and product development. She brings recent expertise in human-centered design, creative workshop facilitation, and statistical analysis to her project work. Maddie received her BA in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

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