Will 2021 be the year sweatpants unseat jeans as the go-to fashion item for all occasions?

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A guest wearing Gucci pants and Stuad bag at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 20 Collections on May 15, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Hanna Lassen/WireImage/Getty Images)
A guest wearing Gucci pants and Stuad bag at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 20 Collections on May 15, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Hanna Lassen/WireImage/Getty Images)
  • In 2020, for a minute we would've thought sweatpants were "a sign of defeat" - as Karl Lagerfeld once put it.
  • The pandemic has seen giant fashion retailers struggle, but on the flip side small independent brands thrive - all thanks to sweatpants.
  • Adding to the silver lining, fashion enthusiasts have shown a different perspective on what an outfit featuring sweatpants could be. 

"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants." These are the infamous words of Karl Lagerfeld. Applied in 2020, there might be a lot of truth to this statement that might have been a controversial take just last year - but alas, 2021 may be the year we're proven wrong.

READ MORE: Since we're in the middle of the grandpa trend, this is why I prefer to shop in the men's section 

Jeans have always been the go to fashion item that can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion, but the times may be changing, thanks to the pandemic.

In the past few years as the trend of sweatpants, or a sweatsuit even, as a statement of style gained incremental favour, trend lovers wouldn't necessarily identify it with defeat. However, the impact of the coronavirus might have changed that.

Many of us have succumbed to defeat when it comes to the woes the pandemic brings. We have all lost control of significant parts of our life's direction - gone are many of our 2020 travel plans, New Year's resolutions and so forth. We have begrudgingly surrendered to strict restrictions, we've had wear PPE and sweatpants as a necessity.

Even editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour wore sweatpants, which some may joke as being a sign of the apocalypse.

The work from home routine and subsequent pursuit of relaxed-fit indoor clothing saw giant retailers like Neiman Marcus and J.Crew crumble. On the inverse, small businesses like Scott Sternberg's Entireworld, a fashion brand specialising in basics, saw incredible success.

The New York Times reports that the brand saw a 662 percent increase in sales during the inception of the global pandemic compared to the same time in 2019. All thanks to its sweat pants.

READ MORE: WATCH: 5 fashion items that embody the grandma chic trend 

Like brands such as Les Girls Les Boys saw similar success, having reported a 1000 percent increase in sales of tracksuit bottoms. During the early days of the pandemic, The Guardian reports that retail data company Edited saw sweatpants sales go are up 36 percent compared with the same period in 2019. 

More recently, Tagwalk sees a 132.8 percent increase in searches of hoodies in its Spring/Summer 2021 rising trends report.  

In the thick of lockdowns around the world, you could find virtually every sweatsuit style imaginable, from striped - á la Anna Wintour - to tie-dye and patchwork designs.

For a while, Covid-19 was in the driver's seat as the dictator of our dress choice. 

Thanks to the steadfast creativity of style lovers who turned this gloom to glamour, this doesn't have to be the case. As many restrictions have eased, some may still be wearing their sweat pants to their couches but the fashion-forward have taken sweat pants to the streets, to evening outings and the social events that are permitted. 

READ MORE: No bras, no heels, no runways: How the pandemic has changed our relationship with fashion 

In South Africa, the temperature has just gotten a tad too hot for this 'It' item, but the fashion darlings in the global north have been showing us how to graduate from lounge to street style ahead of our next autumn-winter season.

Kahlana Barfield Brown

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Favorite hue ??

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Tracee Ellis Ross

Abisola Omole

Tamu McPherson

Anum Bashir 

Ellie Delphine

Eva Chen

Coco Bassey

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