A lasting effect of Covid-19 has been a wardrobe makeover. Loungewear sets and casual wear like pyjamas became the trend of the season, even long after the pandemic showed signs of ebbing. Several comfort clothing brands were launched while prominent players started heavily advertising their loungewear sets for work-from-home schedules. However, as offices reopened, the wardrobes demanded a makeover again. But what continued for two years seems to have become a habit—comfort clothing.
Many professionals agree that office wear is no longer strictly formal as the hybrid work model becomes mainstream and the comfort factor sets in.
Designer Suneet Varma says, “I do agree that office wear has become quite casual in the last couple of years. Having come out of the pandemic, people are working from home and they understand the idea of comfort and I am okay with that. I don’t think it’s important to be dressed formally all the time—you can be casually dressed as long as your behaviour and decorum are formal.”
Varma says that a casual approach to dressing in the workplace may not necessarily mean a casual approach to work as well. “Because you are in a work environment space, where you need to perform, deliver and have responsibilities and I think when people wear casual clothes, like track pants and T-shirts—something loose and comfortable—it doesn’t necessarily mean that they let their responsibilities go as well. So, as long as your decorum is formal and up to the mark, it’s okay to wear casual clothes,” he adds.
Last year, clothing brand Vero Moda launched its first-ever loungewear and comfort collection called ‘Ease’. In November last year, Indian footwear brand Needledust, too, launched a collection of block heels keeping in mind comfort and both glamour and minimalism, in collaboration with the fluid fashion and minimalistic designer brand Sand by Shirin. Another Indian brand Jisora, which was launched during the pandemic to cater to the comfort-seeking consumers, clocked more than Rs 12 crore revenue by April this year.
However, as Myntra observed a 300% growth in the lingerie and loungewear segment in 2020, it reports that formal shopping is back with the reopening of offices. But wearing formal clothes in a casual and comfortable style like a casual shirt, a loose kurta set for women and so on, looks like the way forward.
Suits no more
Globally, there has been a shift in the way men dress. Artists like Harry Styles and Ranveer Singh have embraced gender-fluid fashion while sporting jewellery like pearls and clothing pieces like skirts.
The shift has also been in the casual approach towards men’s clothing especially after the offices have resumed post Covid-19 pandemic. The rising temperatures and the hybrid work model have also led to the end of the ‘suit-up’ era. Office wear is more casual and the casual look reflects on one’s true self now more than ever.
Designer Kunal Rawal’s new collection ‘Dear Men’, which was showcased at the Fashion Design Council of India’s (FDCI) Fashion Week recently, drew inspiration from cultural and traditional influences in India. The collection could be worn as toned down, mixed or matched, or even to work, thus pointing towards clothing that not only matches one’s own personality but also brings in comfort and is multipurpose.
Men’s wear has evolved with the pandemic. It is about personal style and comfort and not ‘one style suits all’, says designer Anju Modi. “Some prefer bold, some take it easy on colours. Fashion and design innovations in men’s wear nowadays have also undergone a transformation. There is freedom to wear all styles with more experimentation in men’s wear. Like a dhoti salwar or cowl pant or pathani pant is in,” Modi adds.
Siddharth R Dungarwal, founder of Snitch, a men’s online clothing brand, adds, “Especially, in a country ruled by its societal values and trends, it is vital to understand and recognise the fact that modern Indian men are changing the societal perceptions of fashion as a means to self-expression. Such is the evolved era of fashion, where what you wear speaks a lot about who you are, what you do, and how you feel about yourself. After all, it is a fact that modern Indian men are now redefining the meaning of being fashionable.”