Trend Alert! The ‘Casualization’ of the Apparel Industry
Fashion is cyclical – everyone knows that. But what’s often interesting to see is the trends that stick for more than just a season or two. The over-arching themes in the story that is the collective wardrobe.
The ‘60s were all about expression: expression of self, of the arts, and of our cultures. The ‘80s were centered around power dressing and shoulder pads abound. The 2010s, while seeing no shortage of trends, up until now, devoid of its own personality. But a couple of years ago, everyone seems to have decided it was high time we let our hair down and just get comfy with ourselves.
The new age version of “anti-fashion,” normcore is all about embracing the nondescript, middle American that apparently lives within all of us. Everyday casual pieces like t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, and cargo pants are essential to this look. As the New York Times reports, “The catchy neologism was coined by K-Hole, a New York-based group of theoretically minded brand consultants in their 20s, as part of a recent trend-forecasting report, “Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom.” Written in the academic language of a manifesto, the report was conceived in part as a work of conceptual art produced for a London gallery, not a corporate client.”
What started out as a bit of an inside joke has since taken on a life of its own.
Image via MarcusTondo/Vogue.com
Normcore has appeared on such prestigious runways as Chanel in Paris for F/W 2014 (the models pushed shopping carts carrying channel brand “groceries” through a super market) and Vetements for F/W 2017, a collection the designer described as a “re-appropriation” of “dress codes” of people seen around him or on the internet. But if you’d like to take notes for your next collection you could probably just drop in at a nearby mall or catch an episode of Seinfeld.
Shortly after normcore became popular, athleisure began to take off. As consumers began striving for healthier lifestyles, their wardrobes upgraded to match. And while quite a few consumers are “all fashion, no show” (at the gym at least), this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Much like with celebrity perfume lines of the ‘90s and 2000s, it seems like every other celeb is coming out with a new athleisure (or by extension, sneaker) line.
Image via Ivy Park
Whether you’re a sportswear brand or an apparel brand hoping to expand its offerings, making fashionable yet comfortable work-out clothing is all the rage. And at an estimated $44-billion-dollar market size in the U.S. alone, consumers agree.
If you think wearing gym clothes to Sunday brunch is a tad inappropriate, be prepared to start seeing silk pajamas on the red carpet. Much like athleisure, this trend was not intended to stray so far from its origin – but it has already picked up quite a bit of steam. In fact, Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at the NPD Group, predicted that “casualization will give pajamas new function” in 2017. I noticed it myself working as an associate at a luxury department store a couple of years ago. People would come in to buy fancy silk pyjamas as a gift while the more fashion-forward customers would exclaim how “wearable” (read: I can wear these out in public with little to no judgment!) these items were. Just like that, what was most commonly known as a seasonal item at best, became a year-round fashion staple.
In retrospect, we could have seen this coming. Juicy Couture once made it socially acceptable to wear velour track suits and underwear as outerwear. As a fashion brand, trends are part of what gives your company life. Staying on top of what consumers are gravitating towards is what keeps your brand relevant to your target demographic. Whether you make ball gowns or ponchos, the casualization of fashion is sure to affect you in some way or another. How will you take this trend and make it your own?
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