With remote and hybrid work here to stay for some companies, fashion brands are still adapting to the evolving wardrobe of modern professionals
Business casual ruled office dress codes before 2020, but the pandemic forced brands to rethink workwear standards — a shift that’s continued as many companies retain hybrid and remote working options.
Employees who wore business formal attire on the job dropped from 10% before 2020 to 5% in 2022, while workers who wore business casual clothes fell from 42% to 37%, according to data gathered by market research company the NPD Group and reported by Fortune.
The research also found that more businesses are opting for a casual dress code that allows clothing items like jeans and sneakers — the category grew from 32% of workers to 40% in the same timeframe.
As a result of more people buying clothes they can wear on Zoom calls and a coffee date, apparel companies are changing how they market to consumers who are lounging more and commuting less.
“Gone are the days of two separate wardrobes or even three separate wardrobes,” Maria Rugolo, director and industry analyst of fashion apparel at NPD, told Fortune. “We are blending it all together.”
Ann Taylor — a brand known for office-appropriate womenswear — has had to pivot in recent years to accommodate customers who are now working on a hybrid schedule instead of showing up to work five days a week.
“Our secret to looking polished but staying comfy while working from home is classic workwear, reimagined in sweater knits,” the brand wrote on its website. “So skip your college sweatshirt and reach for your most-loved stretchy denim and a sweater with a style punch.”
The change in work attire is evident in the TikTok trend of users showing their remote workwear. Instead of collared shirts and slacks, people are putting on cozy sweaters and sweatpants to tackle their eight-hour workday.
Such outfit choices have caused athleisure brands, like Lululemon, to explode in popularity. The yoga-wear company reported that sales outpaced Wall Street expectations in its most recent quarter, building upon strong revenue and foot traffic in the previous quarter despite an economic downturn.
“Our ongoing momentum is a testament to our innovative products, deep community relationships, and the hard work and dedication of our talented teams around the world,” Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald said in a statement earlier this month.