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What business casual really means now

Blazers and slim pants are out. Roomy trousers, jeans, T-shirts are the new workwear favourites

The pandemic-induced work from home is rewriting the definition of “business casual'.
The pandemic-induced work from home is rewriting the definition of “business casual'. (Unsplash)

The pandemic-induced work from home is rewriting the definition of “business casual". That's the conclusion of a recent survey commissioned by Kontoor Brands, the parent company of Wrangler® and Lee®.

The online US survey, which included over 1,000 office workers, found that 85% of the respondents expect their office to have a business-casual dress code. A little over 35% said they plan to wear dress pants or dress skirts when they return to the office, while four in 10 workers (39%) expect to wear jeans to the office.

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Sweatpants and jogging pants will be more prevalent, with 15% of office workers expecting to wear them to the office.

With the trends and expectations we’re seeing, employers should consider rewriting the "business-casual" definition, said Scott Baxter, President and chief executive officer, Kontoor Brands. What the survey findings suggest is employees prefer their clothing to provide a seamless transition between their evolving professional and personal roles, he adds.

Over 80% of office workers said a wardrobe refresh is in order. At least eight in 10 indicated they’ll 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%), no longer fit (32%) or felt buying new jeans would brighten their mood (34%).

“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 in the press release. “While office workers may have sacrificed comfort in the past, they now want to check all the boxes when selecting their return-to-office wardrobe.”

People really want to shop after being stuck at home for over a year. Reuters reports H&M's sales jumped from March to May compared to a year earlier as pandemic restrictions eased in many markets and online demand stayed strong but revenue was still well below 2019 levels. The world's second-biggest fashion retailer said on Tuesday sales were up 62% year on year in the period, its fiscal second quarter, or 75% measured in local currencies, to 46.5 billion crowns ($5.59 billion).

Compared with two years earlier, sales were still down 19% as stores stayed closed for most of the quarter in Germany and France, and as footfall was slow in many stores that were open.

"As more people are vaccinated a number of markets have gradually allowed stores to reopen and the H&M group's strong recovery continues," the company said in a statement. "Online sales have continued to develop very well, even as the stores have opened. This shows that customers appreciate the collections and being able to shop via their preferred channel."

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