America has entered a period of self-isolation and stretch pants, and retailers across the country are reporting a surge in sweatpants sales during imposed lockdowns to curb the coronavirus’ spread.
While stores say that COVID-19 induced anxiety and dim economic forecasts have caused a steep drop-off in overall fashion sales, sweatpants appear to be an exception — their popularity spiking at a rate that may indicate they are the biggest (and perhaps only) trend in fashion right now.
With restaurants and nonessential stores closed by mandate and most professionals working from home, fashion status symbols have been rendered nearly useless. Consumers have few places to go that require any degree of style or savoir-faire, and in turn have begun dressing for comfort.
“There is a real shift in values within this moment,” said Scott Sternberg, founder of the sustainable basics label Entireworld, which saw its site traffic and sales conversion rate double last week, the first full workweek charted under quarantine.
Sweatpants have not appeared this relevant or widespread since the early-Aughts craze for Juicy Couture. Even the most devoted of fashion plates who have made a career out of getting dressed for the sake of it — including influencers Danielle Bernstein, Olivia Palermo and Courtney Trop, as well as models Kaia Gerber and Bella Hadid — have dialed back on their preening in COVID-19’s U.S. outbreak. Instead, each has been spotted in some form of lounge pants, encouraging followers to remain inside and stay safe.
Emerging label Suzie Kondi — which launched its candy-colored velour and terrycloth track suits on Net-a-porter last week — said sales on its own web site have doubled compared with this same time last month.
A representative for Net-a-porter said the site experienced a 40 percent uptick in general sweatpant sales in the first week of COVID-19 lockdown, along with exceptionally high sell-throughs of full-price product. Aéropostale reported a 23 percent increase in women’s sweatpants and Russell Athletic has seen a double-digit increase in searches for sweatpant styles. Vuori — an ath-leisure brand that sells in some 800 stores throughout the U.S. — has seen a 50 percent spike in sweatpant sales on its e-commerce site. (The company’s five bricks-and-mortar locations are currently closed.)
“People are still shopping, they are just doing things a little differently — they want to stay comfortable,” said Nikki Sakelliou, Vuori’s vice president of marketing.
Ariel Katz, of the Los Angeles-based sustainable loungewear brand Everybody.World, feels that there’s still a level of care involved in getting dressed under lockdown. “You are not getting dressed up to go out, but you are still dressed enough to be in your element,” they said.
Sternberg waxed further poetic on sweats, admitting that they exemplify, “an alternative set of values that are not part of fashion system, but still play on an emotional level.” For him, sweats are “something that keep you warm and cozy, it’s a fashion statement in itself…it’s a choice, it’s not a devolution.”
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