A solo b2b post dealing with the changing demands on clothing manufacturers and retailers brought about by the extended work-from-home culture that emerged as a result of 2020 Covid-period lockdowns. Blog post for global thread manufacturer and distributor, Coats plc.
Working from home
The rise in active/casual workwear
Long before Covid pushed a large proportion of the workforce out of the office and into home, traditional notions of officewear were eroding rapidly.
The tailored suit, collar and tie, elegant blouse and neatly fashioned skirt had first come under attack when Dress Down Fridays legitimised the chinos and Oxford shirt look. Over the last few years, however, the pace of transformation accelerated as shifting attitudes and expectations led employers to view leisure and active wear more acceptable as workplace dress.
No matter how far that evolution had progressed, however, it seems now that the Covid pandemic has escalated and may have locked in these changes for good.
As fashionunited.uk observed in June 2020: “The home is now both office and place of all round dwelling… This hasn’t removed a desire to have smart clothes, but rather highlighted the change to functional and multiple end uses.”
After months of working at home, and with many companies declaring their intention not to return to formal office environments, a new workwear culture of ‘relaxed and comfortable while smart enough to get on a Zoom call and still look professional’ has taken hold.
Morris Goldfarb, Chairman and CEO of US apparel giant G-III, explained to analysts recently that while the company’s output had been moving towards more casual dressing for some time, because of the pandemic its teams had made swift changes to its fall and holiday seasons product assortments to address what it saw as a “clear shift in consumer needs.”
Even prior to the pandemic, the increasing popularity and acceptability of athleisure, and the growing concern of employers for workplace health and wellness, were clearly impacting dress codes.
This improved acceptance of the desire of workers to dress for comfort and practicality, as well as for easier transitioning between the working day and out of work recreation or socialising, had significantly increased demand for more versatile performance apparel and footwear.
According to Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey in June of 2019, 59% of US consumers were, even then, looking for “comfortable” when buying an apparel or footwear product, with just 21% seeking “classic-style”.
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