With our daily routines drastically changed and the adoption of working from home, our days are no longer about long commutes to work, conferences and post-work drinks with friends and colleagues. For myself, and I’m guessing, for most of the population in this time of the pandemic, dressing has become a casual affair. Dressing for work, or for any occasion for that matter, seems to be a thing of the past. No one’s getting glammed up—these days, all that is visible in a Zoom meeting is all that matters.
With many of us staying indoors, accessories like stilettos and six-figure designer bags are facing obsolescence. The purses, heels and clothes sitting in the closet are beautiful things that don’t have much place in occasional grocery runs and quiet days at home.
Once touted must-have items are being replaced with more practical, durable accessories as the “trend” in this time of the pandemic. Maybe this “new normal,” and a postpandemic future, will force brands to create things that address a changing reality.
The trends shaping the COVID-19 era:
Since the need to dress up has fairly lessened since the beginning of the pandemic, comfort is top priority. Sweats and loungewear are the new normal. Athleisure for workouts has become the go-to work-from-home (WFH) outfit and for quick trips to the grocery. Anne Gonzalez, president of Terry S.A, notes, “An interest in athletic apparel, accessories and small fitness equipment has also spiked. While Aura Athletica carries niche higher-priced brands, our customers remain loyal and we are also attracting newbies that are willing to pay a premium. We attribute this to an emphasis on health and wellness because of the pandemic, and also to a new WFH dress code that has made comfortable and pared-down apparel acceptable.”
Sliders, Crocs and flip-flops
Since most are not leaving their homes, why let feet suffer by wearing strappy heels that won’t be seen anyway? In this quarantine season, sliders, Crocs and flip-flops are now the footwear of choice.
Pauline Juan, former editor of Preview and now executive director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, finds herself in slippers at home and wears mules on the rare times she goes out. “I haven’t worn proper shoes in a long time—it was a struggle when I wore heels for a Tatler shoot, like I was balancing on stilts, when I normally could run and jump around in 120-mm heels. Another time I wore slingbacks, I got a blister.”
“Online sales of Havaianas flip-flops have increased significantly and physical retail has surprisingly exceeded our expectations,” adds Gonzalez. “Flip-flops have become the preferred footwear during the pandemic, and we find that our customers are also exploring new shapes and prints as an easy way to express their style, even if just at home.”
Bags that matter
Bags are often the carriers of viruses and bacteria. Some women are doing away with leather bags as they are tricky to disinfect. In their place are durable totes made of canvas, straw or PVC, as they can be easily washed or wiped down with disinfectant.
If people bought bags before as status symbols, these days, bags are all about the functionality. The luxury retailer matchesfashion.com even reported a boost in sales of canvas totes of late. And with nowhere to go except to do errands, some women are opting for hands-free fanny packs to hold essentials like mask, hand sanitizer, phone and wallet.
Eye makeup vs lipstick
Since COVID-19 began, our makeup routine has been nonexistent, save for the occasional video call, or the few times spent outdoors. And since masks and face shields are required to enter any establishment, using lipstick has become pointless. Face masks have killed the “lipstick index,” a theory coined by the Estée Lauder chair in 2001, that in times of economic uncertainty, affordable luxuries like lipstick help prop up sales even through downturns.
One category that has seen an increase of sales is in eye makeup, as it can put some color on a half-hidden face. Business Insider recently reported that Amazon’s sales of eye makeup grew by 204 percent versus the drop in lip color by 15 percent.