The Big Loungewear RevivalDecodings
The growing homebody economy had already put loungewear on fashion designers’ radars, but stay-at-home orders worldwide have given it a tremendous boost.
History is full of episodes in which fashion has served as an indicator of crisis. The French Revolution abolished the vestimentary code of the Ancien Régime in favor of greater simplicity and egalitarianism. During World War I, men’s jackets were cut shorter to avoid fabric wastage. During both World Wars, women took over men’s jobs in factories and began to don trousers. Today, loungewear is in the spotlight as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pajamas, Lockdown’s Garment of Choice
The global public health crisis has made the mask the new accessory, vital to economic recovery. At the same time, widespread shelter-in-place restrictions have led to a surge in demand for pajamas, already galvanized by the JOMO and niksen trends, demonstrating that this item of apparel is closely associated with a notion of well-being that stresses comfort above all things.
Vogue reported that a tag search during lockdown on Tagwalk, the fashion search engine, identified several top trends. Searches for the keyword pajamas registered an increase of 1506% between mid-March and end April, cocoon was up by 183% and jogging [pants] by 176%. These numbers bear witness to a growing interest in comfy clothing at a time when staying home has become the new normal.
The New Sleepwear Brands
Redefining the idea of hibernation, pajamas and other sleepwear have provided designers with a new playground for expressing their creativity. Brands like Sleeper, Olivia von Halle, F.R.S, Holi Holi and Holly Golightly have taken their place in this movement, marketing clothes that function both as homewear and outerwear.
Pajamas are everywhere, even in the range of the French streetwear label Pigalle, whose interpretations reflect the brand’s eclecticism and esthetics.
The Rise of Inactive Wear
Instead of offering conventional pajamas, the recent crop of new brands is turning its back on the “get up and go” culture and advocating the art of doing nothing. This exemplifies the conscious deceleration movement fostered by the emergence of a generation that prefers a stay-at-home lifestyle. One such brand, OFFHOURS, markets an innovative unisex Homecoat that doubles as a quilted bathrobe and a minimalist winter coat. Another, Hill House Home, specializes in “nap dresses”.
These brands celebrate the art of indoor life, far from the madding crowd, by presenting versatile styles allowing their wearers to go directly from a nap on the couch to a Zoom meeting without having to change. They prove that loungewear can be both comfy and classy, emblematic of vestimentary well-being and simplicity as well as stylish.
A New Take on Tracksuit Bottoms
Designers had already been offering their own versions of tracksuit bottoms and sweat pants prior to lockdown. Now these items can be spotted all over Instagram and TikTok, worn by influencers, choreography fans and fashion mavens – even Anna Wintour! Their softness, like that of the new jeans, is in step with a preference for light garments made for easy movement.
An article in The Guardian reported that the British brand Les Girls Les Boys, known for its unisex minimalist looks, had seen a “a lift of 1000% on tracksuit bottoms” since lockdown and that sweat pants sales were up 36% compared with the same period last year.
Riding this wave, new stylists are helping to democratize a more minimalist treatment of this iconic garment, making it even more attractive for both men and women to wear. For instance, at last year’s Amsterdam Fashion Week, the young Dutch fashion designer Daniëlle Cathari presented her 2020 Spring-Summer collection featuring a series of unisex track suits suitable for day or night wear. In her work, she rethinks and deconstructs classic styles to “mark a new subversiveness for womenswear”.
During Paris Fashion Week, Kanye West presented a pair of Yeezy track bottoms for Autumn-Winter 2020-21 notable for its primary colors, materials and design. This minimalist look was rounded out by a pair of experimental – one might say “anti-fashion” – sneakers designed exclusively for comfort.
Concern for comfort is also dominating cocoonwear. Omnipresent at 2020-21 Autumn-Winter runways, this comforting fashion trend highlights a sense of physical well-being. It combines downy, quilted and fluffy materials with puffy shapes and woolly colors, an approach that pushes comfort as far as it will go. A new twist in ready-to-wear!
Cover image credit: © Vicky King for Vogue