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Businesswear has been placed on pause as the world adapts to working from home. Waist-up clothing and sweatpants have replaced ties and slacks as global fashion brands report major consumer shifts toward casual clothing designed for comfort.
In this new era of video-conference, work-from-home style, we sat down with Hale Saraçoğlu, Head of Global Business Development, Fashion Ready to Wear at Lenzing AG, to discuss how the ready to wear landscape is changing, and what trends are set to stay with us long after lockdowns are lifted.
Q: Which major ready-to-wear trends have emerged due to remote working?
Hale: COVID-19 has disrupted normal seasonal cycles. Designers are now crafting clothing with long-term utilitarian purpose in mind over short-term trend jacking pieces. Consumers are purchasing less clothing, less often, and have become more purpose-driven with their consumption choices. There has also been a large-scale shift toward activewear and loungewear as consumers seek comfort when working from home. Consumers have realised that wearing comfortable, multi-purpose clothing, whether it’s for video conferencing or cooking dinner is far more economical in the long run. Doing so cuts down on overall purchase costs and decreases energy consumption as less clothing requires washing at the end of each week.
In turn, this will have a significant positive impact on the environmental footprint of ready to wear. High street retailers will become less concerned with monthly, or even weekly, seasonal styles. We have already seen designers shrinking the breadth of their collections to avoid stockpile build-ups.
With remote working becoming the norm, many brands have shifted their focus to online sales, which cuts-down on the environmental toll associated with operating multiple brick-and-mortar outlets. Consumers have also been empowered to access a larger variety of clothing than would be normally possible in-store.
Q: Will this redefinition of business office wear be permanent?
Hale: Business casual office wear has become popular in recent years as a term to define clothing for a new generation of younger workers. Silicon Valley giants have long held casual clothing policies and even some traditionally formal organisations have recently relaxed their dress codes. COVID-19 certainly sped up that trend. Versatile pieces, appropriate for workouts, running errands, and simultaneously, a day at the office will become a permanent fixture of the post-COVID world.
With a newfound focus on the environment, we also expect the rise of sustainability in purchase decisions. More people have become aware of fashion’s impact on the environment and are concerned about purchasing sustainable and environmentally friendly pieces. Now, with more consumers purchasing clothing online, consumers will be more easily able to research the environmental credibility of brands and raw materials used in their clothing before buying.
This means sustainable and durable raw materials such as our TENCEL™ branded fibers, which offer longer lasting colour, softness and versatility will become key staples of the modern wardrobe.
Q: Lastly, how has your business wardrobe changed in a remote working setting?
Hale: I have started to choose my clothes to be more smart casual and comfortable than before. It feels like I am more conscious on how I feel inside my clothes now and that is why, my choices have shifted towards more breathable and comfortable pieces that I feel good wearing. Also, I observed that my changed wardrobe does not have the old rigidity in its usability for different situations. I have now adopted more versatile pieces that can be used for work, social gatherings or even going out for a quick walk.