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Loungewear: Demand for comfort rises amid uncomfortable times

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While the coronavirus pandemic immobilized the entire world, fashion continued to evolve. In fact, the lockdown and the lull has triggered new trends in fashion. As the world became restricted to their homes, consumers’ started gravitating towards fashion that catered to the new normal — comfortable and presentable clothes that can easily transition from work from home to work-out, to grocery-run and social-media appearances. And this is where loungewear came in!

Loungewear: Demand for comfort rises amid uncomfortable times

Loungewear had gained acceptance much before the pandemic took over, but the demand skyrocketed globally after the lockdowns. Online shopping sales site lovethesale.com has reported that loungewear witnessed a 433 percent jump in consumer demand as early as April 2020 in the UK alone.

“Loungewear has been the most the popular ‘lockdown clothing’ category. Retailers have witnessed a sudden jump in the consumer demand compared to the previous year. We have observed a growth of around 18 percent in our loungewear segment in last 2 months. Retailers that didn’t rely on this category before the lockdown are now heavily promoting it, and even speeding up production on new styles and colors,” states , Director, .

has registered as much as 80 percent increase in demand for their loungewear collection. “The new work-from-home culture has definitely led to an increased demand for nightwear and loungewear. A drastic customer demand was noticed for more fashionable and versatile designs in loungewear. Working from home and attending video conferences has initiated a look-good factor without compromising on comfort and that’s exactly what we have to offer — loungewear styles that is high on both fashion and comfort without burning a hole in the pocket,” says , Founding Member, Clovia.

Growth Drivers

The lives of consumers have been altered dramatically by the impact of the coronavirus crisis and the shift to apparel that are cosy, comforting and comfortable is highly natural.

“The demand for loungewear is increasing to cater to consumers’ new normal. The lives of consumers have been altered dramatically by the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and social distancing and working from home have shifted requirements for categories such as work wear and going-out attire, to items suitable for a life lived in the home. Even before social isolation, increasingly flexible working habits, and the India growing freelance workforce had already led to increased demand in a relaxed, more lounge-focused approach – and several brands have launched in recent years seeking to target this burgeoning market,” says , Founder and CEO, .

“Being confined to their homes have made people realize that what we wore to work or to go out in isn’t really ‘comfortable’ for being ‘at home’. Customers have recognized that easy to wear comfortable clothes have an interesting neckline that fits all purposes — be it getting ready for a zoom call or for a quick step out to get essentials. To be able to do this without much thought or effort is fabulous,” says , Head of Head of Customer and Beauty, .

Along with work from home routines, loungewear’s demand has been bolstered by the absence of social events. “Consumers are not attending parties, no social gathering, no family functions and no office and official meetings. People are working from their homes and need comfortable as well as stylish clothes all day long. In the absence of daily outings and these dress-up events, we can see an obvious surge in the comfort wear category,” states Grover.

E-Commerce Witnesses Better Traction

As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way around the world, keeping shoppers at home and away from physical stores, web sales have seen a significant spike over the last few months. Various reports across the web suggests how e-commerce spends have surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels after the lockdown across Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru as more individuals opted to shop online for their discretionary and non-discretionary spends.

“There is a huge demand in loungewear in the recent months. It’s been witnessing exponential growth especially on online platforms. As the markets have started opening so the casual and basic wear demand is rising in smaller towns and cities. Yes, certainly it is one of the main reason because people are staying at home and comfortable wear is the first choice,” explains , Director, .

“The loungewear range has seen an almost 3x surge primarily online, when comparing the sales for the whole of FY2019-20 to that for May-August 2020. Online outperforms offline and has taken the whole business up. Talking about SISs and EBOs, the sales are slow but the last two weeks have been encouraging. Even the share of innerwear sales has gone up nearly 3x, though the value associated with it may not be as high,” adds a Spokesperson.

E-Commerce: Big in India’s Hinterland

A profusion of factors including social commerce, vernacular language content and improved last-mile delivery has resulted in an upswing in digital penetration in the small towns of India. Non-metro markets have recorded strong recovery in sales.

“Demand in non-metro markets has grown faster and the sales volumes are now 80 percent of pre-COVID levels while in urban markets, sales are also growing and are now about 65 percent of pre-COVID levels. More than 80 percent of the orders have come from non-metros and the demand is highest from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh,” says Jain.

The Challenges of Going Digital

While the growing penchant for digital commerce presented hitherto unseen opportunities, it also has compelled brands to ramp up their digital efficiencies. Brands and retailers are now compelled to invest courageously and timely to offer a seamless online experiences. This demands super agility and adaptability!

“The last 6 months necessitated great agility and adaptability from largely offline brands like ours to move our attention and efforts into the online ecosystem and learn the tricks of digital trade. With this challenge came a great opportunity to build a loyal customer base through impeccable customer service and acquire the previously elusive customer. It has been an exciting roller coaster and I am sure the learnings of these past few months will greatly impact the categories road ahead,” says Aastha Desai, Assistant Manager-Marketing, Sweet Dreams.

Since Unlock 1.0 started, Sweet Dreams’ own e-commerce website growth was 8X. Overall B2C Consumer off take from Online Market Place was 5X.

What’s Trending?

According to Soumya Kant, considering the hot and humid weather India is experiencing now, cotton loungewear is witnessing greater demand. “In the women’s segment nightwear sets — top and pyjamas and top and shorts are on top of consumer’s minds. Sleep tees with quirky prints and quotes are quite popular. In terms of color and style, pastels like baby pink, powder blue, light yellow are in demand along with basic neutral shades that work well round the year, shades like – navy, grey and black,” she adds.

Clovia has recently launched exclusive Cartoon Network (Power Puff Girls, We Bare Bear) merchandise and added more styles of button-down night suits in its WFH loungewear collection.

TAB91 has registered healthy demand for casual tees, track-sets, track pant, short capri and bermudas in men’s category. “In the women’s segment night suit sets, jumpsuits, printed track pants and knitted long tops are in hig demand. COVID-19 related messages on T-shirts like ‘Maintain Distance’ and ‘Go Corona Go’ are also fi nding traction, along with slogan T-shirts, TikTok, and influencer-centric fashion and T-shirts based on television shows and trends on social media,” states Jain. Such is the demand of this category that TAB91 is soon going to launch a new brand altogether. The brand, ‘Cellco’ will exclusively focus on woven as well as knitted loungewear.

“Products like track pants, lounge pants, boxer, t-shirts and fashion vests are some of the hot-sellers – mainly product categories that make the individual feel easy and comfortable during the work from home setup. In terms of style, it’s the pieces that are the most comfortable that are on consumers’ minds. Speaking of colors, the top ones in order of rank are Black, Navy, White, Blue Atoll and Freesia are best-selling colours,” states the Jack & Jones Spokesperson.

Westside has registered demand in slogan tees, joggers, wide leg pants, shorts, leggings and cotton Pajamas. “Our women’s and men’s wear have a mix n match options of basic tees and fun lounge pants, T-shirt’s across all categories with fun chest prints and mood lifting colours. We also have shorts in knitted fabrics as well as tops that can pass as casual day wear. In the kid’s segment, there has been an upsurge in vests and crop tops,” says Naidoo.

Going Ahead

Just like the shifts in societal and economic order, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in consumers’ consumption behavior. In the new normal, suits and dresses are taking a back seat and loungewear has graduated into a daily necessity as consumers tentatively embrace their new home-based realities.

Specifically, in India, with the festive season and winter coming nearer, customers will need a wardrobe change and since the work from home phenomenon is expected to persist, loungewear is expected to see a steady demand in the time to come.

“The overall demand will sustain and as we open up. From shorts to pajamas and from light-weight summer fabrics to cozier winter fabrics, the demand is expected to rise. Also, categories like shape wear, swimwear, leisurewear which became dormant during the lockdown will now experience a higher demand,” concludes Kant.