L.A. Fashion Lifestyle Now a Global Trend
By Karen Cooper
When you think of Los Angeles, it is impossible to imagine the city without its great weather, laid-back lifestyle, and entertainment industry. L.A.’s unique characteristics have shaped its own city-specific lifestyle and local fashion, one that has embraced activewear and loungewear as culturally appropriate, everyday apparel for decades. This trend has now exploded across the globe thanks to L.A.’s celebrity influence and- more recently- a surge in the number of people staying home during the pandemic.
Who can forget the epic rise of the Juicy Couture all-velour tracksuit in the early 2000s? That was when celebrities like JLo, Britney Spears, Amy Poehler, and Paris Hilton (who claims to own 100 pairs of the iconic outfit) embraced this more-casual look. Loungewear shot to the top of the pop culture fashion charts, and suddenly it became perfectly acceptable (dare we say “cool”) in L.A. to run errands, go on dates, and even attend meetings in head-to-toe active or loungewear.
Fast forward to now: the casual celebrity look has gone completely mainstream, along with an updated version of that Juicy Couture tracksuit from two decades ago: the modern day sweatsuit. “They’ve gone from something you wore on the couch to an every-day, ready-to-wear must-have,” said Shefali Shah, chief merchandising officer of the athleisure boutique Bandier, which has seen double-digit growth in its sales of sweats, according to Business of Fashion (a).
While certain cultures may generally still prefer a more formal buttoned-up look for professional activities, people around the world have largely accepted loungewear and activewear as “acceptable fashion” for all. With most of the world in various stages of lockdown or reopening stages, forcing many people to work from home, the popularity of activewear and loungewear as everyday apparel shows no signs of slowing. Even Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is not above the look, having stunned much of the fashion world in April when she posted a photo of herself working from home in a Breton top and joggers.
“Our favorite fashion mavens have [also] been tapping an athleisure aesthetic by styling their outfits with sports bras to inject a more laid back vibe into their designer mix. The sports bra is versatile enough to mix with designer separates for a more elegant feel or style down with your favorite pair of jeans,” says Chelsea Carter in her Editorialist article “Sports Bra Styling Is Back And It’s The Athletic Wear Update Our Closets Needed.”(b). Much like with loungewear, Carter says the resurgence of the sports bra’s popularity can be tied back to LA-based celebrities and the fashion industry’s homage to the 90’s. “Stars such as Gwen Steffani, Jennifer Lopez, and Aaliyah ushered in the concept of sports bra as daywear in the 1990’s. Now a new generation of trendsetters (see: Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin [both L.A. residents]) are conjuring new ways to wear the piece.”
Los Angelenos regularly transition from leisure time to working out or vice versa, and their clothing choices reflect that adaptability and multi-functionality, making comfortable loungewear and activewear styles- like sweatsuits, leggings, and sports bras- staples in many L.A. wardrobes. Now the rest of the world, including the intimates industry, is embracing many of these same trends, further amplified by the Coronavirus crises, which has revolutionized where we spend our time and how we interact with each other.
With the recent pandemic, we are seeing customers craving designs that really make them feel good,” explained Kirsten Griffin, Visitor Promotions Director for Eurovet Americas / Curve. “We're living, working, and functioning in a very different space now, so shoppers are craving comfort and want their wardrobe choices to help them feel good about themselves. The trend for loungewear pre-pandemic was already growing as a very strong category, and we were already seeing designers reexamining design, fabrications, and functionality with an emphasis on comfort. It's really become acceptable to stay in your pajamas or lounge wear all day. I mean, who would have ever thought that would happen?"
LOOKING AHEAD — FINDING JOY IN COMFORT
While it’s true that much is still uncertain these days, we do know that many people are still spending a majority of their time within a one-mile radius of their homes, and the importance of comfort and emotional wellbeing are playing crucial roles in consumer purchase decisions. These cultural sentiments and their design influences for upcoming seasons were explored in detail in a webinar hosted by Eurovet and Fashion Snoops on May 28, 2020 (c).
The webinar highlighted how brands and retailers can (and should) capitalize on the growing trend of consumers embracing activewear and loungewear as part of their “look,” much like Los Angelenos have been doing for decades. “We're really seeing a shift in perception to wear what makes you feel good, and home-wear that can be worn in or out,” explained Griffin. “V.O. SHE has created washable satin and stretch silks styles, which is just one example of how traditional boundaries are really being blurred. While brands like Hanro were already doing a great job of combining ready-to-wear styles with lingerie details and then letting the customer decide on how to wear it.” Brands like Skin or About have also created fashionable, comfortable loungewear designed to transition seamlessly from indoor to out, while brands like Natori offer loungewear in silk-cashmere blends for added luxurious comfort.
As loungewear and activewear categories continue to gain popularity, brands and retailers can embrace these trends to fulfill consumers’ need for comfort for any season, especially as the industry faces revolutionary changes in delivery flow and explores “seasonless” trends moving forward. Ultimately, it’s products with a clear purpose that will be driving sales across the board.
“The way we see it, people are not going to be buying just any product,” said Lilly Berelovich, Founder and Chief In - novation Officer at Fashion Snoops, during the webinar. “It's going to have to be a product with meaning and purpose, so understanding sentiments and what people feel will help us access that.”
Keeping consumers’ feelings in mind may prove vital as we make design choices for upcoming seasons and attempt to understand what is (and will be) driving consumer purchases. The popularity of comfortable yet elegant, multi-purpose clothing is no longer unique to L.A.'s lifestyle, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. As we move through the uncertainty of one week to the next, and navigate this current social and economic crisis together, the boundaries between living and working continue to blur. Perhaps we’re all finally ready to take a cue from L.A.’s playbook and embrace comfortable, multi-function clothing as everyday wear.
To learn more about current cultural sentiments and how to consider them as part of your designs for intimates, sleep - wear, and loungewear, view the full webinar here. Curve’s complete webinar series (past and upcoming) can also be viewed by visiting: www.curve-newyork.com/webinars/.
REFERENCES a) “Everyone Loves Sweatsuits and Fashion Is Cashing In,” by Chavie Lieber, Business of Fashion (March 9, 2020) b) “Sports Bra Styling Is Back And It’s The Athletic Wear Update Our Closets Needed,” by Chelsea Carter, Editorialist (last updated March 29, 2020), c) "Looking Ahead at Key Design Shifts in the Imitates, Sleepwear, and Loungewear Markets" webinar, led by Eurovet in collaboration with Fashion Snoops (May 28, 2020).