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"Long live the sweatpants!" - Fashion expert reflects on 2020 trends and new year expectations


Lecturer in Fashion Business and Promotion, Laura Arrowsmith, says 2020 has changed how we’ll see fashion forever and that brand transparency will be key next year.

School of Fashion and Textiles

Birmingham City University

Covid-19 has reshaped the fashion industry and changed the way we’ll see fashion forever. Our face-to-face interactions with brands and events has slowed down, working from home has increased and our contact with the web has amplified. This sudden shift has transformed the fashion industry and throughout 2020 we have seen brands altering how they connect with their consumers as well as major changes in the way companies operate.

Burberry has been experimenting with its digital platforms to offer customers new and immersive shopping experiences, whilst Harrods has offered customers virtual tours and photos of products via WhatsApp.

Instead of dressing up and buying more formal outfits, our wardrobes have been reorganised and our daily outfits have adapted to a more casual attire. We have seen a huge increase in loungewear, which has taken over in 2020. ASOS sites saw sales of jogging bottoms rise by more than 150 per cent in the middle of the year. Clearly comfort has been key. I mean, who wants to work from home wearing jeans?

Consumers have taken the time out to breathe and understand that health is wealth and despite working from home, and barely venturing outdoors, consumers still care about their appearance. We have all made an effort with our top half and kept our pyjama bottoms on at least once, right?

As we move into 2021, I think we will see fashion slowing down. We started seeing this movement pick up momentum prior to the first lockdown, however the pandemic has provided people with more time to revaluate their buying power and purchases. There are more conversations than ever being had around sustainable clothing, with consumers being educated on how their clothes are made and the impact they have on the environment. Transparency will be key in 2021.

Even before the pandemic started, fashion was already being steered into the comfort direction with ‘athleisure’ being a key trend. High heels were being replaced with trainers and gym wear turned into ‘I’ll wear these yoga pants to pick up my morning coffee’. Choices for loungewear will continue to grow throughout 2021 – Long live the sweatpants!

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