The New COVID Couture


Zoe Mosdell

Matching loungewear sets are on the rise among teens.

Zoe Mosdell, Staff Writer

Have you shopped for clothes recently? Have you noticed all the soft knit hoodies, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and shorts?

It’s not just another whim of the fashion industry. It’s a direct answer to the pandemic: People suddenly found themselves stuck at home. A lot. And they wanted to be comfortable, but they didn’t want to sacrifice style.

If you go on any website, from Madewell, to Gap, to J. Crew, to American Eagle, you’ll see a section dedicated to loungewear, including matching sets of tops and bottoms. Madewell even launched an entirely new collection during COVID called MWL. The line focuses on sustainability, comfort, and mixing and matching tops and bottoms.

Like Madewell, other companies in the fashion industry saw our prioritization of comfort and had to make loungewear in addition to their seasonal lines in order to keep their business afloat in a sea of chaos and uncertainty.

“Crucially, the supply chain was already set up to easily churn out more of these garments,” said Elizabeth Segran in an online post for Fast Company Magazine in December. “When designers like Misha Nonoo and Thakoon realized consumers wanted sweats, they were able to pivot to making them because the materials were widely available and factories knew how to manufacture them.”

And all of that pivoting paid off. In April 2020 alone, online sales of pajamas and loungewear rose an astounding 143%, according to Lauren Thomas from CNBC. And as more and more people spent their time on Zoom calls, where only their shirt is visible, pant sales dropped 13%.

Gen Z is known for our wide ranges of style preferences, but this year introduced the glamor of dressing down and accepting the ordinary (and the crazy). Teens have especially helped spread the loungewear trend, making it normal to go out in public in our sweats.

When it came to attending class via Zoom, we all just wanted to wear something as soft and comfortable as our warm and fuzzy blankets.

“Waking up to get to class itself was a struggle, let alone wearing jeans and a T-shirt, so naturally sweatpants, hoodies, and pajamas became the new normal,” Charlotte Hight, a Sophomore at Highland said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Hight bought clothes from places like Shein, Romwe, and other small businesses, filling her online shopping cart with sweat pants and hoodies and using the pandemic as an excuse.

So, are hoodies and sweatpants here to stay? Or will we go to the other end of the spectrum, preferring shirts with buttons and pants with waistbands?

Maybe coming out of the pandemic will look like after World War II. During the war, women had to take on jobs because their husbands, fathers, and brothers were at war. This new female workforce wore causal clothes, including pants, that they could get grubby in. But after the war, they jumped out of their overalls and into A-line skirts.

This could happen after the pandemic blows over at long last. We could see vastly different pieces of statement clothing in contrast to the casual pieces of loungewear we’re currently wearing.

Or, who knows? Maybe the hoodies and sweatpants are here to stay. We will always define fashion more than fashion defines us, and we will always be chasing the next generation-defining trend.