Brands give a casual touch to formal wear as normalcy resumes


22 July 2022, Mumbai:

Retailers believe, the revival of fancy dresses and smart suits is either a post-pandemic flash in the pan, or heralds a renewed trend that will last a few more seasons.

Across the world, shoppers are shopping for elegant dresses and blazers. Demand for formal wear items from Ralph Lauren Corp., Nordstrom Inc and Macy’s Inc has surged. High-end clothing rental service, Rent the Runway is seeing more women hiring bold outfits for special occasions.

In Europe too, more demand for refined dressing styles has surged.

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Brands launch work leisure ranges
There is great enthusiasm for celebratory dressing—color, print, and new silhouettes, opines Shea Jensen, Executive VP, General Merchandise Manager, Nordstrom.

In July 2021, the brand launched a survey of 2,000 Americans exploring how the pandemic had affected their fashion choices and it showed 41 per cent plan to dress comfortably for the remainder of their lives. However, 35 per cent also said they are more open to trying new styles post-pandemic

Brands are adding more stretch to their officewear apparel to be in line with the demand for work leisure. Consumers are looking for work-friendly and comfortable officewear, avers Arjun Puri, Director, KAS Group Asia. Activewear brands are strengthening their offerings in office-ready styles, while traditional fashion brands are also launching active lines.

Adding comfort to fashion
Leading fashion brands have launched collections reflecting the changed mindset of people going back to work but not back to formal crisp officewear. A hardcore sportswear brand like Adidas has expanded into the underwear and lingerie segment. The brand is using more technical fabrics to make innerwear, to give it the everyday look.

Since the pandemic outbreak, there was an interesting shift toward comfort fashion. The lockdown witnessed individuals opting to find comfort in fashion instead of the previously preferred impeccable uncomfortable clothes.

This was a gradual shift as the world adjusted to living in these unprecedented times and working from home with all its comfort. Satyen Momaya, CEO, of Celio shares, that people have taken to loungewear, athleisure apparel, and comfortable clothing. It was one of the most in-demand commodities in 2020 and 2021 and continues to be in 2022 too.

Brands revamp formals for millennial consumers
The workplace is definitely moving towards being more casual, points out Momaya. Celio is working on fabrics and styling in shirts that are semi-formal and comfortable. Knit and Tencel shirts, combined with cotton are being launched to cater to this need, he adds.

According to Momaya, the casualization trend is here to stay with new fits replacing the wardrobe from skinny to more relaxed fits. Consumers are opting for more smart casuals in pants and tees, and Celio’s 100 percent linen T-shirts made from the most natural and sustainable fabric, are in demand, he adds.

Similarly, Peter England consumers are shopping for garments with hand-feel and are flexible, says Manish Singhai, Chief Operating Officer. The brand is seeing increased demand for premium casual wear in lighter tones, smaller checks, and linen.

With COVID receding, consumers are once again engaging in socializing and connecting with each. They are looking to spend more time outside their homes, evident in increasing visits for retail and recreation, attending weddings, resuming physical and hybrid modes of office, and traveling.

This miscellaneous consumer behavior may lead to increased demand for casual, semi-casual, and semi-formal apparel along with formal wear opines Singhai. To cater to this demand, fashion brands are offering more revamped formals that appeal to younger, modern consumers, he affirms.

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