Welcome to hybrid fashion: smart enough for the office, relaxed enough for kitchen table teleconferences and most importantly - comfortable.
During the 18 months working from home in loungewear has transformed style sense and shopping habits. Comfort’s in, ties, high heels and fitted clothes are out.
Professionals all over Europe are looking for fresh wardrobes as they partially head back to the office and it’s a boon for hard-hit retailers.
Spanish fashionista, marketer and hybrid fashion customer, Blanca Lorca, once swore by heels and fitted clothes for work. Now, with three days in the office and two from her Madrid flat, she wears neutral tones and slack fits.
Even in her spare time, she says her shopping habits have changed. "I look for clothes that I know that I can put them on with more than one specific outfit. One that can be combined with different things and provide me with different looks. This is my priority now," says Blanca.
Personal shopper Lucia Danero, a shopping adviser at El Corte Ingles in Madrid, has noticed a stream of customers looking for a refresh: but the men never ask to try on ties anymore.
Lucia says, "The way men dress has adapted and they are adding new clothes that were unthinkable until now. For example, we would never find sweatshirts in a classic office style. However, nowadays something like this could be worn to go to the office."
The trend is global and big brands are paying attention. Zara, Mango and H&M are highlighting "smart casual" trousers, shirts and dresses on their websites, alongside the lounge and sportswear that lockdowns made ubiquitous.
Many of the leading fashion brands have launched new collections for this unique back-to-work season.
Backstage at Madrid fashion week, designers bet on new beginnings. Spanish designer Maite Casademunt, whose "Comfy Wild" collection was dominated by dresses, smart loungewear and sports shoes, said heels have been left aside for specific moments.
"I think we need to be happy and sure of ourselves with what we wear. We're also seeing more sports shoes and comfortable shoes and we have thousands of options and people are very fashionable. I think everything is very easy to wear," the designer says.
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