- The coronavirus crisis could have a lasting impact on what South Africans wear to the office.
- After spending months at home in comfortable clothes, they may not be keen to return to formal wear that inhibits movement.
- Retailers will have to adapt to this new reality.
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With the majority of office workers operating from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, comfortable, more relaxed clothing has become the norm - and employees may not be keen to abandon this when returning to their workplaces in coming months.
According to Tiaan Schutte, a stylist at Via TV, fashion signifies the times and officewear is likely to see a new approach in the coming months.
“People have grown accustomed to leisurewear and spent so much time in more loose fitting clothes - the focus will definitely shift from appearance to comfort and safety."
“Covid will force us to re-imagine our wardrobe due to practicalities...and also some weight gain in some cases,” Schutte said.
There has already been a move towards more informal work attire over the past years, and Covid-19 will accelerate the trend towards loungewear in the office, says trend researcher Nicola Cooper.
She believes there is a new approach to comfort with a luxurious spin, with high-quality fabrics used in leisurewear. Workers want clothing that allows them to move freely when commuting to work and for an easy transition from work to home after boarding a plane, train or bus, she says.
Cooper believes a more casual approach is here to stay, as younger workers reach positions of influence and push for a more relaxed office setting.
This will therefore force retailers to adjust and “develop more products within this category, from knitwear, to two piece to sliders and slippers".
“If not, they will be forced into adapting as Covid-19 will obviously further reinforce and fast-track the existing shifts towards a more informal work attire that we have seen developing over a number of years,” said Cooper.
Foschini this week confirmed that its sales of formalwear are under pressure due to the lockdown.
But while there has been an increase in sales of basics and leisurewear, Superbalist fashion director Chris Viljoen says the sale of formal clothing is likely to start to recover when the lockdown lifts completely.
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