Pre-lockdown, luxury and loungewear were two words that did not have much association with each other, but a global pandemic makes for strange bedfellows, and luxury loungewear is, one might argue, the best thing to come out of the situation.
Starting out as a specific subset of ‘normcore’ in streetwear circles, loungewear has quickly become de rigeur in mainstream circles. Maybe it’s all the time that we have spent at home during the lockdown that has accelerated the acceptance of a sweatshirt-and-sweatpants combo. According to a study in the UK of data from 16,000 retailers last year, the term ‘loungewear’ saw a 433 percent increase in consumer demand compared to 2019.
“It’s effortless,” says Karisa Sukamto, co-founder of Singapore loungewear label, What’s Love Co, and proponent of the laid-back trend. “And there’s a tacit nod when you see someone else in their loungewear sharing the same dressed-down, no-fuss, no-frills energy.”
“Women are looking for comfortable clothes without sacrificing looking good,” agrees Libby Page, senior fashion market editor at luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter. “Our customers can spend a bit more on a tracksuit and get more wear out of it than an evening gown in this climate; it allows them to feel elevated while in the comfort of their home.”
“There’s a tacit nod when you see someone else in their loungewear sharing the same dressed-down, no-fuss, no-frills energy.”
Just a quick scroll on Instagram will prove this to be true. One need look no further than celebrities and models such as Bella Hadid, Blackpink’s Jennie and Lisa, and Hailey Bieber, who have consistently been posting photos of themselves in bright, colour-coordinated sweatshirts and sweatpants at home.
Pangaia is one such brand that has been featured prominently in these celebrities’ snapshots. Billing itself as a material science company, the eco-conscious label is so much more than its candy-bright sweaters and plush jackets. “We aim to springboard new problem-solving technologies and push forward their adoption on a global scale,” the design collective tells us in an interview. “Our vision for the future is regenerative, where every product we create gives back more than the resources that it takes to make it in the first place.”
To accomplish its goals, the company’s products—for example, its ultra-popular T-shirts and terry cloth shorts—are fabricated from a mix of recycled and organic cotton, and other innovative ideas like finishing its T-shirts with natural peppermint oil. “We chose to work with peppermint oil as it’s a 100 percent natural, biodegradable, plant-originated textile treatment,” the collective says. “We use it as finishing on T-shirt fabric to keep it fresher for longer: your T-shirt needs to be washed less often, saving water, energy and time.”
This eco-conscious angle has certainly helped the brand gain fans among the fashion set, most of whom feel that the ethos, thought and technology that go into creating its products justify the price tag. “I have always believed that comfort is key and Pangaia is proof that you do not need to compromise on style for comfort,” saya Singaporean influencer Nicole Wong. “They make cool loungewear in a rainbow of colours with different cuts to suit everyone’s needs.”
The upper echelons of fashion have also noticed this shift towards the relaxed, the slouchy and the comfortable. Prestige brands such Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior have all spun their own takes on the loungewear trend in recent months—their resort 2021 collections are positively geared towards dressing women who are going to be doing most of their dressing in the comforts of home.
Dior, for example, has pushed out its first capsule collection entirely devoted to loungewear. Dreamt up by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri during lockdown, the collection is a focused outing of matching pyjama tops and pants, caftans, sweaters, cardigans and more, realised in silky fabrics, cosy cashmere and warm wools. It is a celebration of the art of living at home in style, according to the brand, something that has never been more significant than in these times.
But the question remains: how does one dress up in loungewear? For Page, it’s all about the matched set. “I always opt for a matching set for ease of getting dressed,” she says. “This usually entails a cashmere and a big cosy wrap coat over the top, or a trench or tailored coat if I want to smarten up my ensemble.”
“If I don’t leave the house, it’s boxer shorts all day all night with a basic top,” Sukamto tells us. “I’ll throw on a hoodie when the AC gets cooler. On days I want to feel feminine, I’ll put on a beautiful robe. In between, I’ll wear biker shorts and a bodysuit, and find a loose, light jacket.”
As we head into 2021 with the prospect of a viable vaccine being pushed into the market, the far-reaching effects of 2020 will definitely continue to be felt, especially in what we choose to wear and what is seen as acceptable to wear. “We foresee loungewear continuing to be relevant,” says Page about the longevity of the loungewear category. “We anticipate that a more relaxed attitude will remain in fashion for a while.”
Below, check out the three luxe loungewear labels to have on your radar.
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With a strong focus on sustainability and materials, Pangaia is the hot celebrity favourite that will leave you wanting more than just one set of its joyfully coloured loungewear sets.
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2. Les Tien
“Classic ’90s tracksuits in a variety of colours,” is how Net-a-Porter’s Libby Page describes Les Tien, the Los Angeles-based brand that is a go-to of Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner.
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3. Suzie Kondi
Blending the nostalgia of the noughties with the flair of the downtown bohemian, Suzie Kondi brings casual comfort together with a luxe aesthetic for the dedicated loungewear fan.