LMany people made many mistakes about how the pandemic could affect our lives this year. Cities did not die, but people still light candles on their birthdays and risk spreading germs. But few 2020 forecasts missed their mark so spectacularly as the oft-repeated claim that, as the world reopened, we’dReturn to itSweatpants.
If any single event crystallizes this misfire, it’s last month’s announcement that the direct-to-consumer loungewear brand Entireworld wasGoing out of business. The company was a breakout success in 2020 with its cheerfully colored cotton basics. “cute enough for Zoom” “cozy enough to work, sleep, and recreate from bed in, for the bulk of a calendar year”. News outlets, meanwhile, pointed to Entireworld’s astonishing 662% increase in sales last March not as a right-place, right-time one-off, but an indication of our collective sartorial destiny.
An Entireworld sweater worn by a shopper at Fahm Market in Los Angeles. Photograph: Ray Tamarra/Soul B Photos/REX/Shutterstock
“[T]he sweatpant has supplanted the blue jean in the pants-wearing American imagination,” Declared GQ last April. The New York Times Magazine followed suit with an Entireworld name check in August 2020. Cover storyThe headline “Sweatpants Forever.”
But it wasn’t to be. Instead, as 2021 brought forth the world’s reopening, I noticed a style sensibility that seemed to defy last year’s housebound pragmatism. People were changing their looks from Instagram to the streets in my New York City neighborhood. You can find kooky looks everywhere, from platform Crocs and strong-shouldered silhouettes to be exact. My online window-shopping adventures revealed scores of sundry clothes from different brands in the same exuberant color. ‘90s DayGlo green. From sensible underpants to faux fur– trimmed tops, I subconsciously catalogued the color labels assigned to each (“celery”, “gross green”, “slime”).
This new, psychedelic palette seemed like a spiritual departure from Trump-era minimalism and its many shades of beige. Less dutiful, more winking.
Sweatpants seem destined for a mere supporting role.
Jessica Richards, a trend forecasting consultant based in New York City, agrees that the pandemic has changed the way we dress. “It’s actually for the better,” she says – and in more ways than one.
New York: Metallic not-sweatpants fashionweek in SeptemberPhotograph: JP Yim/Getty Images
It’s no coincidence that the styles of the Great Reentry reflect a certain giddiness, says Dr Jaehee Jung, a University of Delaware fashionPsychology professor who studies the psychology of fashionConsumer behavior. “The fact that there are more opportunities to present ourselves to others makes us excited about the clothes we wear,” Jung tells me.
“I’m definitely seeing people taking more risks, in terms of color choices, prints and patterns, even shapes and silhouettes that they wouldn’t have worn before,”Sydney Mintle says, “An incredibly important thing to do is to have fun.” fashionSeattle industry publicist “People are like, ‘life is short, wear yellow.’”
‘Life is short, wear yellow.’New York: Neon yellow fashionWeek in September Photograph: Andrew H Walker/REX/Shutterstock
Tamar Miller, CEO of the women’s luxury footwear brand Bells & Becks, has seen this fashion risk-taking impulse first-hand in her company’s recent sales. “My absolute, number-one, kind of off-the-charts shoe is one I did not expect,”She said.
That shoe, per Miller’s description, is a pointed-toe loafer in black-and-white snakeskin leather, topped by a prominent decorative tab with hardware detailing. It’s a bold choice, and one that affirms the demographic breadth of the desire to make a statement. Miller’s target customers are not members of Gen Z, but rather their parents and grandparents.
Secondhand clothing – and its promise of luxe-for-less – has also found its time to shine.
2020 was a great year for online resale. Depop, ThredUp, Poshmark and Poshmark were flooded with sartorial discards. 52.6 million peopleAccording to a report, 36.2 million people sold their first product in 2020. SurveyThredUp. ThredUp.
It’s a phenomenon that may also be contributing to the moment’s ethos of mix-and-match experimentation. “Gone are the days of sleek, edited ‘capsule wardrobes’, and in their place are drawers overstuffed with vintage treasures sourced from Poshmark or Depop,” Writes Isabel Slone in a recent Harper’s Bazaar article headlined “How Gen Z Killed Basic Black”.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that fast fashionIt is on the way out. (“Some of those brands are doing big business, and the numbers don’t lie,”Mintle sighs. The boom may have helped to accelerate a growing abandonment of trend-chasing and disposable low-cost wares. You might even say that reflexive participation in fads is so 2019 – not least because the US is struggling with Supply chain bottlenecksAs we enter the holiday season.
Our Roaring Twenties could be just around the corner. Richards expects novelty and sparkle for 2022. “shoes that go ‘clunk’” “really maximalist styling”. She didn’t mention sweatpants.