Wearing sweatpants once meant you 'lost control', WFH changed that


"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat, " fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once famously said. "You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants." Photo: dpa

"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat," fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once famously said. "You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants."

But what are market researchers saying after the fashion sea-change during the pandemic?

This year appears to be the time – perhaps even the start of an era – of sweatpants, fashion analysts say. After all, millions of people are currently sitting at home, working in their cosiest clothes.

Even before 2020, tracksuit bottoms were more popular than ever, and young people, especially men, have been wearing them in public for quite some time.

A year later, more and more female influencers have paused their glamorous selfies in Saturday night outfits for shots of sweatpants on a couch.

"The total amount of sweatpants sold is not increasing, but – at least among men – is declining significantly less than the overall market for trousers," says the consumer research company GfK, reporting on the pandemic year of 2020.

Compared to dropping fashion figures in other areas, Sunday-at-home cosy trousers do seem to be a solid trend, the Nuremberg-based analysts say.

"The proportion of sweatpants bought 'not for sport' is increasing overall from a good 40 percent to just under 50 percent."

So relatively speaking, sweatpants are indeed booming.

Going by fashion industry numbers, tracksuit bottoms are a more acceptable piece of clothing than ever, and the late Chanel designer's famous words don't ring quite so true today.

Men are also spending more on sweatpants for home than women, and are spending significantly more money on them than in previous years, the GfK researchers say.

The tracksuit bottoms appear to have carved out a space for themselves.

"If the suit was the armour that made you feel safe in your working life, then sweatpants are the soft shell in a hard everyday life," German daily Tagesspiegel recently wrote.

Fashion industry expert Carl Tillessen forecasts sweatpants will remain in fashion for a long time, particularly after a year like 2020, which saw many of us wearing comfy trousers even in the most professional settings – even if our colleagues didn't always notice.

"For one whole year, we have been wearing the lowest maintenance, most comfortable clothes on the market. We won't give that up again."

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fashion , trends , casualwear , Karl Lagerfeld , WFH , Covid-19 , MCOseries , MCO


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