For Sarah LaFleur, co-founder of the women’s workwear brand MMLaFleur, a lot has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. She worked from home, she became a new mother of three children (one through IVF and two through a surrogate mother, as she told Marie Claire) and their style and size have changed. Now, like many others, she is building a completely new wardrobe to match her new life after the pandemic.
“My style has definitely relaxed more than it was before Covid,” she said. “I’m two sizes taller now than I was before I was pregnant. At first I thought I was going to get back to my original size and kept squeezing into my maternity clothes. I was absolutely unhappy. There’s nothing like opening the zipper of your pants in the middle of a meeting that makes you feel defeated.”
LaFleur is not alone in this. On Monday, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh told the Associated Press that more than 25% of Levi’s customers wear a different size than a year ago. And consumers are thinking about new wardrobes to suit their new lifestyle: According to Kontoor, the parent company of denim brands Wrangler and Lee, 84% of office workers are planning to add more “business casual styles” to their wardrobes this year expand an average of $ 445 to do this.
After being locked inside for more than a year, there is finally a reason to dress up again. But people – their bodies and their priorities – have changed. So what does style look like in a post-pandemic world?
In discussions with insiders from the fashion industry about the current buying and wearing interests of consumers, two topics emerged: comfort and versatility. Erik Fagerlind, Creative Director at Sneakersnstuff, said that comfortable clothing is a priority for its consumers.
“We saw a tremendous boost in comfortable ways like sweatpants and sandals when the pandemic peaked, and” [now] We see a clear trend towards being creative and expressive, ”said Fagerlind. “As a brand, you need to keep up with or even be ahead of these trends.”
Data from the payment service Klarna shows that 49% of its users plan to dress more comfortably when they go back to work. Comfortable workwear sales were higher in May than they were at the beginning of 2021. And Klarna data shows that linen sales rose 789% over the past year. Linen pants sales increased 759%.
“After more than a year of working from home and commuting to the couch in more casual styles, it’s no surprise people are unwilling to return to more restrictive clothing,” said David Sykes, Klarna’s Head of US. that can mean linen or jersey dresses, while men opt for oversized shirts, more casual blazers, and linen pants. Workwear is not dead; it gets a more comfortable makeover. “
LaFleur said stretch knitwear has become a much larger category for the brand, accounting for 26% of sales in 2021, compared to 16% of sales last year. The brand only launched soft Pima cotton t-shirts in April 2020 and they already account for 16% of total sales.
“Many are preparing to go back to the office, and if that act alone can create anxiety, it’s great to have clothes that fit and are comfortable against their own skin,” said LaFleur.
Analysts at Klarna and NPD say versatile products that are easy to carry to work and in more casual environments are becoming bestsellers. This includes products that are usually considered more elegant, such as blazers and dress pants, but which have been redesigned with comfort-oriented fabrics. Klarna data shows that sales of jersey dresses rose 128% and stretch blazers rose 125% over the past year.
“Brands have anticipated the return to labor migration in recent months and are aware of the changes people have made to their personal style during the pandemic,” said Sykes. “As consumers leave home, our research shows they are unwilling to forego the comforts of home. For many brands, this means taking very casual items like t-shirts and sandals and redesigning them to add a bit of ready-for-work flair that allows consumers to look professional without sacrificing comfort. “
Kristen Classi-Zummo, director of market insights in apparel at NPD, said the trend towards versatility was due to the hybrid path that many people’s work and personal lives are taking.
“According to our research, a third of the people at home and in the office will have a hybrid schedule,” said Classi-Zummo. “It won’t be like wearing sweatpants one day and a three piece suit the next. It will all be about a mixed wardrobe that can work all the time. “