The pandemic canceled everyone’s plans for the foreseeable future. End-of-the-week parties are no longer happening, at least in the majority of the world, and travel goals have been postponed indefinitely. Everyone is stuck at home as nations continue to grapple with the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
As a result, people have stopped buying trendy pieces meant to be worn in social situations. The theme for the entirety of 2020 is cozy and comfortable.
Even the biggest brands in fashion have struggled to sell their inventory. With events practically nonexistent, at least for the time being, consumers just could not find the need to purchase new clothes.
Comfort and Cozy is the New LBD
When you ask a person nowadays what are the most essential items in their life, they would not be counting their little black dress or designer shoes. Most likely, the people of 2020 would consider a comfortable mattress or an essential oil diffuser as the must-have for the season (and the ones after that).
Purchases in the last year veered toward self-care items. Consumers are buying a weighted and innovative temperature-controlled blanket to keep them feeling warm and less anxious despite the political, economic, and public health turmoil that the nation is going through. They are updating their wardrobes, not with sky-high heels and skin-tight dresses, but with sweatpants.
In fact, the best-selling items on Amazon are not clothing pieces, but bedding. Microfiber sheets and quilted comforters were the products of choice among buyers in the past couple of months. Google Trends, meanwhile, reported that the internet search for the term “self-care” reached an all-time high around May.
Meanwhile, sweatpants became the unofficial uniform of the pandemic. While fashion retailers fold in the face of COVID-19, sales of sweatpants and loungewear soared.
In April, around the time governments announced nationwide lockdowns, sales of clothing fell by 70%. Meanwhile, purchases of sweatpants went up by 80%. The demand for pajamas rose by 143%.
Clearly, buying intent shifted from looking stylish or professional to being cozy and comfortable.
2021: Relaxation Still In-Style
The United States, at least, has reopened. People can once again go out and sit down at a restaurant. They are traveling in the few places that still accept Americans. Many have gone back to the office despite the threat of the virus.
Yet, comfort and cozy are still everywhere. In the fashion trends expected to be big in 2021, the impact of yesteryear is still very much apparent.
Loungewear is not going away any time soon, it seems. People will continue to wear matching sets outdoors, but they will be dressed up with nice shoes and a professional-looking blazer.
Another trend that seems to be coming out as a result of the lockdowns is bralettes. Of course, wearing innerwear as outerwear is not new. Plenty of celebrities have done it such as Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Madonna. But it is coming back this year. The biggest names in fashion such as Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber are rocking their bralettes under jackets to remain warm. The duo, which has been dubbed as the “bracket” has also been spotted on the runways for spring-summer 2021.
Those who need to dress up but not quite ready to move on from their cozy and comfortable 2020 wardrobe can hide behind oversized pants and maxi dresses. In 2021, tight jeans are out; baggy bottoms are the way to go. Retailers are coming out with wide-leg jeans and loose-fitting pants. Meanwhile, maxi dresses that feel like a blanket rather than a style-statement will be around.
Maxi dresses were also quite huge last year, especially those that look whimsy and pastoral in line with the popularity of the cottage-core aesthetic. However, in 2021, fashionistas are layering it up with turtlenecks and pants under their maxi dresses.
It is all Digital Going Forward
The pandemic also changed one thing in the fashion industry: going digital. For a while, e-commerce was the only way consumers can access products and the reliance on online shopping will not go away even after COVID-19.
The pandemic only sped up the adoption of e-commerce not just in fashion but in the selling of other goods and services. In 2020, e-commerce saw a growth of 18% in the U.S. By 2025, the global e-commerce market will reach $25 trillion.
How the fashion industry will change after the pandemic is yet to be seen. Things may revert to how they were used to in 2022. But, these trends seem to be pointing at some differences that will be carried in a world where there is no COVID-19.