We are living through a period of time that almost nobody alive has ever experienced before. The global coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shifted the way in which we go about our day-to-day lives and there is little doubt that, going forward, at least parts of our existence are going to change forever.
When it comes to the fashion industry and more specifically, the way we, as consumers shop and choose what we pull out of our wardrobes each morning, the experience of living through a government-imposed lockdown could well change our perspective on dressing forever.
After finding comfort in loungewear at home, could we pivot towards it in the long term? Will we go to the other extreme and dress up more than we ever have before? Or will our priorities shift, giving way to changes in the industry that were already in motion and desperately in need of taking place? As the way we live our lives adjusts to a new normal, how will our wardrobes fare?
“The way in which people interact with brands and shop for fashion is changing fast,” explains Chris Morton, founder and CEO of global fashion search engine Lyst. “The Covid-19 crisis is accelerating shifts that were already happening in our industry, and catalysing further changes.”
Some of the most obvious shifts come from the type of clothing that consumers have been drawn to during these first few months of lockdown. When speaking to numerous leading luxury retailers, it is clear that lounge and sportswear has been key.
“Luxury loungewear, tracksuits and activewear has definitely become more and more in demand, which is not much of a surprise,” Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director at Mytheresa says. It’s a similar story at Browns: “Comfort is key during lockdown – we have definitely seen increased interest in lounge and activewear as well as cashmere and casual wear,” explains Heather Gramston, head of womenswear buying at the department store.
And, at Matches Fashion and Net-a-Porter too, this change has been apparent with leggings, trainers and tracksuit bottoms all performing very well, with sales of the latter up 1,303 per cent at Net-a-Porter compared with this time last year.
Are we seeing the end of seasonality in fashion?
It is perhaps completely unsurprising that consumers are investing in casual clothing and activewear during this period. Not only are we housebound and embracing this time to be comfortable, but many of us also have a new perspective, more time to spare and a greater focus on our health. As explained by Marion Rabate, founder of luxury sportswear brand Ernest Loety (which has seen a peak in sales), consumers are reacting to what is happening around them.
“The lockdown means that more people are spending more time at home and obviously wearing loungewear, but this virus also means that people are more focused on their health – they see the point in investing in that area of their lives.”
Is the A-list trend for vintage influencing us?
So, for a few reasons, we’ve turned to lounge and sportswear in our droves, but spending our lives inside doesn’t just mean we need comfort, it also emphasises the need for versatility in our wardrobes.
“The spike in interest in more casual or sporty clothes has been true of lounge and activewear, but longer term, we’d expect this to be more about multi-functional clothing or two-mile wear,” says Fancesca Muston, VP of fashion content at trend-forecasting company WGSN. “These are clothes that you can be comfortable in and that are functional whether you are working out, relaxing at home or popping to the shops.”
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