Working from home atheleisure

Staying on track: working from home in activewear

While people used to dress to impress in the office, now they dress for comfort at home.

That means throwing on whatever feels right. And while loungewear is a natural choice, activewear has also enjoyed a huge surge in popularity in the last year.

Activewear has long been a significant part of street fashion – and given its association with flexibility and comfort, it’s no surprise that its appeal has extended to the home working environment. But what is surprising is the speed at which this change in style has occurred.

Lady working laptop activewear

Over the last 30 years, business casual attire has gradually gained ground against the formality of the business suit. Over the past six months, activewear and loungewear have consigned these looks to the back of many workers’ wardrobes – until they have an important virtual meeting that is. reports that Morris Goldfarb, chairman and CEO of G-III, has recognised this shift and backs his company to adapt. He told analysts that while the G-III’s product categories were already evolving towards more casual dressing, “our teams were able to move rapidly to further change our fall and holiday seasons product assortments to address the clear shift in consumer needs.”

Meanwhile, in the midst of an economic downturn, activewear brand Gymshark was one of the best performing businesses in the UK, with full-year revenues of £258m. The potential profitability of this segment has also been recognised by ASOS, who have pivoted towards casualwear, sportswear and beauty products.

In response to this change in the market, some previously formal brands, like Saville Row suit makers Richard James, have even taken the leap of releasing their own range of activewear. This shift is a difficult one to pull off – but if you find the right partners, designs and materials, it is possible to add a completely new type of clothing to your brand’s offering. Those who do so may be rewarded with a new level of business resilience – no matter what the next few years throw at them.

While COVID-19 has pressed the fast-forward button on the transformation of working attire, this process has been taking place for years. Traditional firms like Goldman Sachs had already implemented more flexible dress codes. Meanwhile, modern consumers have developed a deep understanding of health and wellness – and this has spilled over into their wardrobes.

Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey revealed that 59% of US consumers now look for casual comfort when buying an apparel or footwear product, while only 21% of consumers look for a classic or formal style. With this in mind, forward-thinking brands should focus on creating garments with fabrics and threads that provide a soft touch at all times.

While many formal clothing companies are attempting to adapt to a more informal society, many activewear brands are moving into office territory. Vogue Business reports that activewear brand Lululemon have introduced an “Office, Travel, Commute” collection featuring more traditional cuts for both men and women. Athleta produces a “City Pants” range, while Dai offer office wear that uses the same comfortable fabric as yoga leggings.

Top analysts say this change is here to stay. McKinsey predicts that “many people will return to a fundamentally different work environment – one in which telecommuting, flexible hours, and an emphasis on work–life balance are new norms.” And as a result, “comfort could become a top consideration in apparel purchases.”

This means that comfort looks set to sit alongside sustainability as the top buying concern for consumers in the near future. According to research from KPMG, 76% of 18-24 year olds describe themselves as ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’ of sustainable fashion – making sustainability a vitally important consideration for any clothing brand. It’s clear that whether you’re creating activewear, loungewear or traditional office wear, long-lasting, comfortable and attractive materials are becoming more important than ever.

Coats offers threads which deliver all of the qualities mentioned above – and more. From Epic, which allows you to create attractive, durable and flexible seams, to Gramax, which provides a soft touch when it matters most, we can help your clothing brand feel at home in the new working environment. We even offer a range called Coats Ecoverde, which uses 100% recycled materials.

Speak to your local Coats experts today to find out more.

Watch our Athleisure CoatsCast panel discussion around the trends and innovations we are seeing in the sector..