The last year has brought about a huge change in not only our day to day lives but also about how we perceive fashion. In the pre-COVID world, men’s fashion was restricted to formal blazers and collared shirts and loungewear never went beyond those much-loved, lived-in items that, under no circumstances, could be worn while being productive.
Loungewear as a category has started gaining acceptance across the world only in the past decade. The young generation believes in working hard and relaxing well. They want to feel and look relaxed while they wind down and thus began demanding high-quality, affordable loungewear. The pandemic changed it all. The lockdowns and resulting work from home norms meant nearly everyone was at home 24×7. Formal wear and jeans took a backseat in the wardrobe and the demand for items suitable for working comfortably from home saw an unprecedented surge. An April 2020 report by management consultants Wazir Advisors had predicted that loungewear will be one of the first categories to recover from the economic impact of the lockdown.
Reinventing Wardrobe Classics
An intriguing way to look at loungewear is to think of it as a revamp or reinvention of current sleep and home wear. Customers are taking what they feel the most comfortable in – boxers, track pants, pyjamas, t-shirts, vests etc and are looking for means to upgrade them. Perhaps a great example of this is the resurgence of pyjamas as loungewear. Not just India, but countries worldwide have registered a huge increase in pyjama sales since last March. According to stats released by Amazon about its operations in India with a focus on Prime Day 2020, summer wear and home/ loungewear were among the most sought after in apparel.
T-shirts, boxers, vests – all your at-home basics have been reinvented. Gone are the days when customers would buy these products without a second thought. They enjoy wardrobe investment status today and it is well-deserved. The superiority of well-fitting, feel-good apparel is no longer a secret and the customers are consciously looking for comfort wear that is not run-of-the-mill.
There’s a reason why men’s loungewear was seldom seen as a style statement – men never gave much thought to what they wore at home. For the majority of men, it was something worn after work, only to remove it the next morning. The past year has changed that perception. Now loungewear is not only something just to sleep in, but is also something to attend video calls in. It is to be worn all day, every day which means it needs to be well thought through, sharp and exceptionally comfortable. Men needed something less restrictive than suits and shirts, but a great upgrade from the threadbare t-shirts and shorts. Thus, loungewear made an entry into every man’s wardrobe. Whether it is an interview, a work presentation, a business pitch or even attending a Dalgona coffee workshop, smart and stylish loungewear rules.
The annual ‘Show, Live & Look’ report by John Lewis & Partners revealed that in 2020, the sales of loungewear and leggings in the United Kingdom rose by 1,303% compared to May 2019. India saw a similar trend in the second quarter of 2020. The ‘Q4- 2020 -E-commerce Trends Report’, released by Unicommerce and Kearney reported 37% YOY volume growth in the fashion and accessories segment and attributed it to the purchase of products like comfort wear, loungewear and nightwear. With most customers staying at home and demanding an outfit that is home appropriate, fashion brands across the globe adapted to this rise by launching or introducing special loungewear ranges.
Why Premium Loungewear For Men?
The ideal blend of comfort and functionality is what makes loungewear sought after. As the demand for the category increased, so did the interest and expectations of people from it. As the lockdown restrictions start to ease, people are looking for something that can be worn indoors as well as indoors. They are looking for practical outfits without losing out on the comfort factor: zipped pockets, breathable fabric, and covered elastic waistbands that don’t roll over.
If all loungewear was made equal, men would seldom complain. The key differentiating factor here is the fabric. As more and more men are adopting the concepts of self-care and self-love, they become a major element for the rise of loungewear. Customers want low maintenance clothes which make them feel better about themselves. They are willing to step up from the customary basic cotton and embrace premium, plant-based varieties like Supima Cotton and Bamboo Cotton. Shopify’s 2021 report reaffirms this belief: 83% of young consumers(18-34) and a staggering 93% in the middle bracket (35-54) prefer to shop for sustainable and green products.
With seamless integration of loungewear in the new normal lifestyle, the category had never before garnered so much attention. It is no longer something bought for a few uses and then discarded. Customers are spending more time researching, have increased their cart values and view premium loungewear as an absolute wardrobe must-have.
The Path Ahead
The shift in consumer behaviour might have been an effect of the pandemic, but it is here to stay. A 2020 report by Technavio has projected that between 2020 and 2024, the loungewear and sleepwear market will grow by USD 19.5 billion. While the numbers are from the pre-COVID era, the current scenario is anything to go by, these numbers will surely be surpassed.
A major boost to the wide acceptance and success of loungewear is its usability. Customers love wearing these products wherever they can – long journeys, a short trip to the supermarket etc. People are no longer willing to compromise on either style or comfort as they are getting the best of both worlds in the form of loungewear. This balance will remain a priority in every customer’s preference and its impact will play a major role in redefining fashion as we know it.