Our lockdown shopping cart has been filled with bare essentials, loads of skincare and PJ sets. The latter, ironically, being a section of our wardrobe which we never cared for before.
Thus, it does not come as a surprise that brands have started to offer a whole new category of clothes — loungewear.
Evidently, the COVID-19 pandemic has invited a shift in the fashion industry, where comfort reigns at a time when staying at home is encouraged. But, it also begs questions: was there any need for this new section of clothing? And now that it is here, will it stand the test of time?
Some leading brands offering this wardrobe essential throw in their opinions.
Blurring boundaries between work and home
Catering to comfort, Ritu Kumar launched Aarké last year. The brand, which seamlessly makes space in the wardrobe, offers a diversified range of breezy tops and bottoms. Amrish Kumar, managing and creative director, Ritu Kumar shares the pandemic impacted the choices of consumers drastically, and with the current culture of work-from-home, the requirement has shifted towards clothing that is suitable for home. “The trend is changing with customers looking for cosy and comfortable outfits.”
‘Comfortable clothing’ often reminds us of the time when street style and athleisure were trying to make their mark in the industry. But is loungewear the same? Kumar says when it comes to athleisure fashion, “it is still considered sporty in nature and is an important part of the active-wear segment”.
Agreeing, Dipali Patwa, group head of brand, community and digital FabIndia group of companies, shares, “Fashion has always been a mirror for society’s mood, aspirations and in this case, the pandemic. Loungewear offers easy-to-wear styles made to look like you have made just enough effort for a Zoom call or to run a few essential errands.”
Think shackets and sweatpants, kaftans and krops, or free-flowing house dresses and PJ pants and tunics. For men, it offers easy kurtas with shirt cuffs or churidar with pockets — all boiling down to reinventing the basics for everyday comfort.
Keeping the line between worn-out and chic intact
For most of these brands, the USP of this category is breathable fabrics with congenial designs and mid-high price points. Tanvi Malik, co-founder of FabAlley & Indya tells indianexpress.com that one needs to be aware of the thin line between clothes that comfort you — the worn-out baggy T-shirt you change into post work — and the comfortable clothes you wear at home.
“When designing loungewear, we ensure the styles check all the boxes of comfort clothing like breathable fabrics, practical silhouettes, and ease of wear, while making them appealing with striking ethnic prints, vibrant colours, and innovative and on-trend details,” she says.
Similarly, UNIQLO aims to offer an effortless style for consumers who are on-the-move, to develop their clothes by keeping sustainability in mind. Under their LifeWear concept, they provide clothing that matches everyone’s lifestyles. The spokesperson explains it with one of their denim styles which looks like denim but is not really denim. Thus, the polished effect stays intact but the roughness of the same is cancelled. “The cutting-edge trousers are made with an authentic denim looking alike fabric that was developed in Fast Retailing’s Jeans Innovation Center,” the spokesperson says.
While the collection of Aarké ranges from kurtas, kurtis, dresses, suit-sets, tops and bottoms. “Fabrics used in the making of the collection are cotton, chiffon, rayon and viscose,” Kumar adds.
Simple and fluid in nature, they make it easy for you to take on your meetings in the morning and casually step out for a walk in the evening. The price range for these brands is anywhere between Rs 600 and Rs 3,000.
What the future holds
While the industry has come a long way from selling sequined dresses and haute couture bridal wear to matching sets and flowing kaftans, loungewear is a clear necessity at the moment. But, the pandemic will come to an end at some point and the looming question will be: where will our lounge sets go?
Patwa is a firm believer of the idea that the pandemic clothes will become an extension of our home, providing ease, comfort and reliability. “We are not going to dress to be seen but rather our focus will shift to comfort, cosy, sustainable garments.”
Adding to the same, Kumar, too, believes despite the shift in our wardrobe which was ‘expected’, “the work-from-home scenario has made an important shift in the dressing habits of the consumer, as this segment has received a major boost during the pandemic”.
This, coupled with increased awareness of slow fashion and conscious consumption, will encourage people to buy less but better. As a result, “loungewear will continue to play a critical role both functionally and culturally” Patwa explains.