Home / Industry / Retail /  Apparel brands make loungewear smarter

Delhi based Prerna Sharma, 26-year old communication executive, has ditched her regular trackpants and invested in new loungewear which can very well qualify as smart casuals. Her preferred garments being loose tunics and airy cotton pants.

“These work-from-home outfits are not only comfortable but also look decent enough for internal virtual team meetings," she said.

Mumbai based Agastya Vaid, marketing executive at fintech start-up, admits that the formal wear occasions have gone down significantly. “I take out my formal shirt only when there’s a big client meeting. I prefer trusted polo necks and airy linen half-sleeves shirt which is perfectly acceptable for most official meetings post pandemic,“ he added.

With work-from-home (WFH) becoming the new reality and formal wear occasions declining significantly, apparel brands are launching loungewear by tweaking the designs to make it more functional and appropriate for virtual work environment. The range could include matching top and bottom sets, loose pants, comfortable but well-cut tees, and use of breathable and soft fabrics such as linen and cotton with prices ranging from 500 to 2,000.

Designer brand Ritu Kumar, for instance, launched Label Basics in April offering fuss-free dresses, relaxed bottoms and, easy-to-wear co-ordinated sets in muted colours which can be worn for virtual meetings. These functional clothes —with a promise of stylish comfort and durability—are easy to dress up or down, transitioning seamlessly between day and night.

“The clothes are easy to dress up or down, transitioning seamlessly between day and night. The clothes feature a subdued colour palette, relaxed fits, and fascinating patterns that make the collection perfect for year-round wear, made with high-quality fabrics, ideal for seamless dressing," said Amrish Kumar, managing and creative director at Ritu Kumar.

Ethnic wear brand Biba India also launched loungewear and athleisure category during the pandemic focusing on comfortable casual kurtas and bottom wear.

Siddharth Bindra, managing director, Biba India emphasized that simple styles with more focus on the design of the top wear was something that women wanted to cater to the ‘Zoom call looks’.

“We also find women in the age bracket of 30-45 years opting for loungewear/ work from home styles since they are mostly juggling between work at home and work from home responsibilities. These women want to look good as well as be extremely comfortable in their clothes all day," he added.

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) fashion brands Faballey and Indya launched loungewear category in April 2020 in response to the demand for comfortwear clothing with multiple lockdowns and WFH becoming a norm.

“… but now that it has become a way of life, we have unveiled loungewear collection for every season. Our range is also inspired by airport fashion which combines the element of comfort and style. So, our garments neither will be sloppy nightwear nor will be fitted in fabrics like polyester or nylon. We offer smart co-ords, crop tops and high waist jogger pants in cotton, linen and rayon fabrics," said Tanvi Malik, co-founder, FabAlley & Indya.

Loungewear category currently contributes 35% of their online sales.

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited (ABFRL) owned formal wear brands Van Heusen and Peter England have also started offering comfort wear such as kurta sets and lounge pants, relaxed tees made from anti-viral fabric.

Japanese apparel retailer Uniqlo claimed that loungewear has become its second most highest selling category after sports utility wear. The brand said that functionality is key to deliver comfort, specially using patented fabric like AIRism (high-performance fabric with moisture-wicking, sweat-absorbing and heat-releasing functionality).

“…we have been able to meet the need of comfort which is the essence of loungewear. We have thought of office wear on how do we make it as comfortable as loungewear such as EZY (the middle ground between classic trousers and loungewear joggers) which has been created with a lining that feels soft and comfortable just like sweatpants," said Uniqlo in an emailed response to Mint.

According to Ankur Bisen, Senior Vice President, Retail and Consumer at management consultancy Technopak, even before covid, the trends was towards casualisation of fashion especially in western wear and activewear. Post-pandemic it has extended to the ethnic wear category as well.

“Post covid, most ethnic brands switched to offering work from home styles mostly for survival. Around 60% of their sales come from stores that were not operational. They really have to rethink the new consumer behaviour emerging post covid with WFH norms being established in IT companies as the new normal. That’s why loungewear has become the buzzword and becoming the mainstay of these brands," he added.

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