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Comfortwear — warm and cuddly sleepwear, softly brushed robes, at-homewear separates in feel-good fabrics and fluffy spa-related items — has become one of the fastest-growing categories at retail since the threat to personal security came to the forefront following the terrorist attacks and anthrax incidents in 2001.
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The potential for comfortwear, particularly with the continuing casualization of America, offers opportunities to broaden the category into other areas, including activewear, bodywear and casual sportswear, according to innerwear and retail executives. In some cases at major department and specialty stores, the category has significantly beefed up traditionally stagnant sleepwear sales by 50 percent or more against a year ago.
“Consumers just can’t get enough comfortwear items. If it feels good, they’re buying it,” said Donna Wolff, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel and hosiery at Bloomingdale’s.
Wolff said the department store chain has had “phenomenal success” marketing and promoting comfortwear for several months with a tagline that reads, “Comfort Zone.” She noted that many of the comfortwear items are yoga-inspired, adding that best-selling brands include Calvin Klein Underwear, DKNY Underwear and Sara Lee’s Champion Jogbra.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, a big draw this fall was the launch of the Donna Karan Spa Collection, which highlighted seamless microfibers, said Anne Caetano, divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel and hosiery.
Marshall Cohen, president of NPDFashionworld, a consumer marketing firm, said: “Comfort is in big time. Before it was about style, but comfort has become part of the style. It’s also an issue of people wanting to feel warm, comfortable and safe. People are looking to cozy up right now, rather than slinking down in rayons and silks.”
Cohen said in the first six months of 2002, sleepwear sales at all channels of distribution increased 9 percent over the same year-ago period, totaling $2.8 billion.