COVID-19 struck just as fashion was returning to more classical notions of dressing up.
Though suits and dresses are taking a back seat these days to loungewear and pajamas, sartorial elements are bound to filter through as consumers seek ways to feel better in their work-from-home uniforms during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent webinar, Fashion Snoops women’s wear editor and head of intimates and loungewear Patricia Maeda, and Nia Silva, Fashion Snoops materials editor, reviewed three shifts that the trend forecasting firm expects to see wash over the loungewear and intimates categories in the next 18 months.
Comfort continues to be the backbone of these categories, but as Maeda and Silva describe, it’s a quality that can be achieved through thoughtful, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing designs.
Quality sleep is a new luxury for millennials, which Maeda said are seeking relief from burnout culture through self-care. As the need to disconnect and the ability to emotionally rest become increasingly relevant, consumers are drawn toward products that facilitate calm, she said. Be it silk pillows and sleep masks or high-quality mattresses, the goal is to reduce stress and rest the mind. And with one-third of our lives spent in bed, Maeda said sleepwear and loungewear are an essential part of this self-care regime.
In Restore, Fashion Snoops examines the role of comfort in consumer purchase behavior. Key items include longer maxi-length robes and pajama dresses, quilted robes and matching sets made with super-tactile materials.
Touch-centric fabrics, Silva noted, work well to communicate comfort to consumers. Textured yarns with fuzzy irregularities and fluffy aspects, or synthetic or biodegradable down fills for quilted garments are key, she said.
Soft sleepwear sets—which Maeda said have experienced consistent growth since 2016—live here, too. Look for sets made with lightweight, refined natural materials enhanced with smooth cool-touch yarns. “We sleep better when we’re cooler,” she said. Softening treatments can be added in the finishing process to boost the fabric’s comfort level.
Fibers like Supima cotton are essential, not only to the story’s comfort factor, but for material strength. “We wash pajamas frequently,” Maeda said. “We want a lived-on feel, but it needs to withstand washing.”
Restore also touches on the growing trend for restorative travel kits. These practical kits include items like socks, sleep masks and base layers and are often made with hidden functions, like temperature-regulating fibers.
“People are taking a proactive attitude to enhancing the quality of their life,” Maeda said.
In Bare, Fashion Snoops taps into this conversation from multiple angles with product that embraces body positivity, sustainable designs that doesn’t sacrifice style and an emphasis on fewer but better-quality garments. “We’re craving for more essential things with uncomplicated designs,” she said.
Back-to-basics, functional lingerie offers consumers this no-fuss comfortable wear. “[The pandemic] is a moment when we can go back and rethink about what we need, including what are the essential building blocks for our wardrobe,” Maeda said.
Designers, Silva noted, should focus on designs that eliminate uncomfortable elastic waistbands and underwire as well as pared-down concepts that reduce the number of chemicals and dyes on the wearer’s body. Soft breathable materials, including those made with man-made cellulose fibers like modal and Tencel, are key to the story. Sustainable stretch fibers by Roica and fibers made from citrus byproducts are picking up momentum. These fibers, she said, offer breathability and absorbency, but require less water than cotton to produce.
Key items in Bare include lingerie sets, like triangle bras and hipster panties, in neutral colorways. “Inclusivity needs to be a core value for intimate brands,” Maeda said. Wireless constructions offer comfort, but brands should also consider memory foam cups or 3D-printed cups for extra support, she added. Shapewear is also designed in a smarter way with easy compression in strategic places.
There’s also a growing interest in sheer fabrics, Silva said, which emphasizes the idea of second-skin intimates.
For loungewear, the trend focuses on effortless dressing one-piece garments—either a roomy jumpsuit or cozy romper. The “Sunday suit” also makes an appearance. These sets—typically a button-down top and short or pant—take style cues from ready-to-wear with tailored collars and refined buttons.
Bed to Street
Sleepwear and ready-to-wear fashion merge in Bed to Street, which Fashion Snoops touts as the next evolution of athleisure. With elevated silhouettes and better-quality materials, Maeda said, this is a new category of all-purpose fashion that offer consumers versatility, practicality and sophisticated style.
This trend, she said, is spurred on by the growing number of freelancers and part-time employees who are creating the “gig economy” and by lifestyles that require people to wear multiple hats in a single day.
It’s a big step up from the basic leggings or hoodies that helped birth the athleisure movement.
Materials play a big role in the story’s emphasis on quality and luxury. Silks and satins, high-stretch ribbed knits and elements from fashion like Lurex threads and plush velvets live here.
Key items include athleisure staples like joggers remade in silk, sweater dresses, cashmere sets and tops that play with sculptural volume like big sleeves and cinched waists. Thoughtful details, like robes with waist-tie pockets, Maeda said, are in keeping with the trend’s overall practical and minimalistic aesthetic.