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Comfort is key

Contributor • 5 min read
Comfort is key
Some wardrobe staples may never come back while buying new might be a thing of the past
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Some wardrobe staples may never come back while buying new might be a thing of the past

While wearing a mask is seriously disrupting many of our beauty routines, the outbreak of Covid-19 and the ensuing stay-at-home orders have pushed elegant and sophisticated clothing to the backs of our wardrobes. Pantsuits, ties and stilettos are among the first victims of this unannounced revolution, which has ushered in the return of athleisure, a fashion that is deeply symbolic of the change wrought by the coronavirus.

No, athleisure and sportswear are not dead. Quite the contrary in fact. Just a few months after influential voices announced the imminent demise of these pieces, the lockdown and a growing number of athleisure collections have demonstrated that comfortable, practical and feel-good functional clothing is not only back, it is also here to stay. And it is not just a way of dressing, but also the expression of a desire for a lifestyle identified with well-being.

Why bother with a fussy wardrobe at a time when companies are actively encouraging remote working? The health crisis has clearly led to a change in attitude to working from home, and at the same time disrupted consumer habits. It seems obvious that those who no longer leave the house for the office are not likely to sit down at their desks in suits and ties, and certainly won’t be wearing high heels.

All the surveys on the subject conducted during or just after the lockdown have highlighted this trend. A case in point is a report by the fashion search engine Stylight published in March, which noted a marked increase in searches and clicks for athleisure and activewear clothing that is comfortable to wear at home and also ideal for working out. And it appears that fashion followers are unwilling to sacrifice either of these. If a choice has to be made, comfort and sports are now priorities that are more important than chic and elegant looks.

Now is the time to get back to nature, basics and classics, and back to a healthier and greener lifestyle. Stay-at-home measures — which are still having a major impact in a wide range of areas including real estate, tourism, and mobility — have also up-ended assumptions about what to wear. In particular among the fashion fans, who are no longer content to be in the vanguard for every new trend, but now also want to highlight their desire to be healthy and green, and are eager to embrace any movement that can bring them greater serenity and well-being. Athleisure satisfies all of these criterias. Now, laid-back looks are more than ever in style, with plenty of loose-fitting T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies worn over bras and sports bras. The trend has even gone one step further and brought back leggings. The form-fitting exercise-wear garments, which were until recently off-radar for the fashion world, have now become key wardrobe pieces for such well-known models as Kaia Gerber, Josephine Skriver and Izabel Goulart.

Last but not least, there has been a major increase in the number of athleisure collections by celebrities, who rarely miss a beat when it comes to investment opportunities. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow, Delilah Belle, Amelia Gray Hamlin and Demi Lovato have all launched their own athleisure collections. The trend for activewear now appears to be unstoppable. So, prepare to swap your heels and tweeds for leggings, crop tops and sneakers. Even if it is not your preferred look, you will surely feel more comfortable.

A look at the phenomenon of Köpskam

If you are a sustainable shopper, you may have spotted the #SecondHandSeptember challenge on social media. And even if you don’t know the term you may already be embracing köpskam, a Swedish movement that wants you to stop buying new clothes and turn to second-hand garments, at least for a month.

The textile industry is one of the most polluting sectors worldwide, using 93 billion cubic litres of water a year and emitting 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions.

That is why the köpskam (shame of buying) movement got underway in Sweden in the second half of last year. It follows the flyskam movement — or the shame of flying — using a polluting plane as a mode of transport. However, köpskam isn’t about blaming the consumers, but about inviting us to rethink our ways of consuming. It aims to convince us to give up compulsive shopping for new garments and opt for second-hand clothing instead. That is what the #SecondHandSeptember challenge is all about.

For the second year in a row, non profit organisation Oxfam h›as launched this environmentally friendly challenge. British actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel (from the HBO series I May Destroy You) is supporting this awareness campaign in the UK. The UK is one of the nations that consumes the most textiles in Europe. According to a 2018 report by the European Clothing Action Plan, Brits buy an average of 26kg per capital of clothes per year. By way of comparison, the French buy roughly 9kg of new garment every year.

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