Is there a danger of tailor-made men’s suits, sheath dresses and high heels? The new reality of working from home has quickly transformed the fashion code of clothing into work, which is causing problems for formal office clothing retailers.
On Wednesday, Brooks Brothers, which sold men’s clothing and had been on the market for 202 years, applied for legal protection from creditors. During that time, she dressed 40 American presidents and was synonymous with the classic look of a Wall Street banker. The reason for the company’s bankruptcy was a drop in demand for suits during the pandemic, writes the CNN website.
Ascena Retail Group, which owns the clothing chains Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, is considering all ways to stay afloat when its business has been hit hard by a slump in clothing purchases, including office clothing. Ascena plans to close at least 1,200 stores, which it has at 2,800 locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
As more and more business calls and meetings take place from the comfort of your home, clothing is much more relaxed. However, a gradual departure from formal wear has been going on for years. Indeed, employers in some more “tight” sectors, such as financial services, compete for talent with technology companies that have their own, more relaxed corporate culture.
But a pandemic could end formalities forever. “The Brooks Brothers bankruptcy is truly incredible,” said New York stylist Jessica Cadmus, whose clients work mostly in the financial sector. Cadmus worked at Brooks Brothers at the beginning of her career.
“The fact is that trends in work clothes have been changing for some time and the pandemic was unfortunately the last nail in the coffin,” he adds. According to Cadmus, even before the pandemic, her clients increasingly preferred to wear a more relaxed look for work and there was a growing interest in less formal clothing, referred to as casual.
Even casualness can be stylish
Goldman Sachs announced last year that its employees could start dressing in the office more casually. The Wall Street company has always preferred collar shirts and suits.
“When the covid-19 broke out and people were forced to stay at home, the purchase of formal clothing for work stopped completely,” Cadmus continues. A large part of her clients now emphasize tasteful casual home clothes, which are the main comfort. Men want new shirts, but not pants, suits or shoes. Instead of dresses and costumes, women want necklaces, earrings and brooches to look good in video calls.
Some people don’t even change out of their pajamas. In a June survey by NPD, 47 percent of respondents said they wore the same clothes at home almost all day during a pandemic, and about a quarter said they preferred sportswear, casual wear at home, or sleepwear during the day. “People obviously don’t want to change several times during the day, especially in these circumstances,” said NPD clothing industry analyst Maria Rugolová.
Stylist Nicola Harrison, whose clients include people from the financial sector and other industries, also admits that work clothes are now less elegant. But she is against it herself. According to her, the suit and elegant casual jacket give men a perfect professional look, at the same time they hide many shortcomings. For her, the casual style is to some extent acceptable. Dark jeans, a shirt and a jacket are acceptable. Decisive “no” but says ill-fitting polo shirts or clothes from the time in college.
“To make it happen, it’s important for a casual look, even when calling via Zoom,” says Harrison. “One thing you can control under all the craziness that is happening in the world right now is your appearance. So why should you give it up?”
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