Monday, 20 July 2020

why tracksuits make a big fashion statement in the COVID era

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Omar Rezkallah - Unsplash

Traditionally, the words "tracksuits" and "fashion" have tended not to be mentioned in the same breath, or at least not in the most positive terms.

Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour are high-profile fashionistas who have objected to sweatpants, but the picture has started changing.

One simple reason why is the pandemic and the array of lockdowns it has prompted across the world, leading many of us to switch to working from home - and in, yes, tracksuits.

Have Tracksuits Gone Mainstream?

Perhaps the biggest indicator of such could be the rather startling sight of Wintour herself in a pair of sweatpants. In an otherwise innocuous Instagram post, she was pictured wearing the attire as, apparently, part of her work-from-home getup.   

One Twitter user quoted by The Guardian remarked: "This could be the end of the world as we know it. Anna Wintour is seen in sweatpants for the first time ever." Other celebrities recently seen in similar bottoms include model Bella Hadid and influencer Courtney Trop.

How The Public Have Taken To Tracksuits

"Most people just want an easy, quick choice in these times. They have become the new jeans-and-nice-top," fashion stylist Bianca Nicole has explained in reference to tracksuit bottoms and how they have become strongly favoured as work-from-home trousers.

Indeed, retail data company Edited claims that, in April, sell-outs of tracksuits and matching sweatsuits were 70% higher in April compared to February, as the Associated Press reports. Here, a sell-out is defined as when an item is out of stock and remains unavailable to buy for a minimum of five consecutive days.

Nonetheless, there is evidence that it is not mere practicality that is factoring into the public's buying decisions. "The customer is not just buying these for practical use, but also for the purpose of looking on trend, whether it be for social media or just because they want to feel cute in the house," Krista Corrigan, an analyst at Edited, believes.   

Why Tracksuits Could Be Here To Stay

If working from home has become a new norm for many people, could the humble tracksuit cement its place as daily workplace clothing? One person who suggests so is Kim Toffoletti, an associate professor of sociology at Australia's Deakin University.

"Their popularity at the moment might precipitate a move away from more formal attire, an emphasis on looking 'professional' at work, and more flexibility between boundaries of living and working," she speculates.

One perfectly logical reason why tracksuits are "having a moment" is the comfort they afford to wearers who are likely, and with good reason, concerned about the future. However, long-term versatility is another major selling point of many tracksuits for women and men alike.

Francesca Muston, the VP of fashion content at trend-forecasting firm WGSN, explained to Harper's BAZAAR: "These are clothes that you can be comfortable in and that are functional regardless of whether you are working out, relaxing at home or popping to the shops." She expects this versatility to shape tracksuits' popularity in the longer term.