Pent up demand fuels remote workers' desire to dress down: US survey

15 Jun '21
3 min read
Pic: Business Wire
Pic: Business Wire

As more remote office workers are ready to return to US offices, their definition of ‘business casual’ seems to be rewritten, according to a recent study by Kontoor Brands, the parent company of Wrangler and Lee. While safety protocols mean the office itself may look different, there’s an expectation that office workers, specifically their clothing, will too.

Of the 1,006 adults surveyed, 85 per cent expect their office will have a business-casual dress code, but the definition of ‘business casual’ appears to be evolving.

Respondents were asked how their return-to-work wardrobe will compare to their pre-pandemic office attire. The result found fewer people (36 per cent) plan to wear dress pants or dress skirts when they return to the office, a decrease of 7 points. Nearly 4 in 10 workers (39 per cent) expect to wear jeans to the office, an increase of 7 points.

Sweatpants and jogging pants will be more prevalent, with 15 per cent of office workers expecting to wear them to the office, an increase of 7 points.

“With the trends and expectations we’re seeing, employers should consider rewriting the ‘business-casual’ definition,” said Scott Baxter, president and chief executive officer of Kontoor Brands in a press release.

“What the survey findings suggest is employees prefer their clothing to provide a seamless transition between their evolving professional and personal roles,” he said.

The overwhelming majority of office workers (84 per cent) said a wardrobe refresh is in order. On average, these consumers plan to spend $445 on new clothes. And more than 8 in 10 (82 per cent) indicated they will buy new jeans in the next 12 months, many of whom plan to wear jeans more frequently when they return to the office.

As for the reasons behind the denim demand, respondents said their current jeans were old or worn-out (45 per cent), no longer fit (32 per cent) or felt buying new jeans would brighten their mood (34 per cent).

“Our clothing is an extension of us, and during this time of uncertainty, people are buying and wearing clothes that make them feel more comfortable,” added Baxter.

The survey also found office workers expect their clothes to provide for an easy transition from the office to events. For example, consumers indicated they’re likely to wear jeans for a night out with friends (73 per cent), a concert or live performance (70 per cent) or date night (63 per cent). And a surprising number said they plan to wear jeans to more formal events, such as weddings (31 per cent).

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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