Material Exchange

comfort wear pandemic styles

Back in Touch with Comfort

Over these last couple years of the Covid pandemic, we have seen trends scale from “work from home” to professionals/practitioners who can “work from anywhere“. Home has also become an important focus in every aspect of daily life. In line with this new norm, we’ve seen an increase in demand for intuitive athleisure and comfort wear that meets all consumer needs, where more tailored outfits have taken a backseat with work from home and hybrid lifestyles.

According to Mckinsey’s 2022 State of fashion report, “The few brands that outperformed either played into the needs of the moment — comfort, outdoor activities and online shopping — or appealed to wealthier cohorts who were able to better weather the impacts of the crisis.”

In a pandemic-riddled world now affected by a touch crisis, could it be that our relationship with products and dressing habits has evolved to integrate performance and lifestyle aesthetics that optimize everyday use? With so much time spent in the comfort of our homes, it only makes sense to choose our clothing to match these familiar environments.

Touch has a huge impact on our psychological and physical wellbeing, says Professor Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford via The Guardian. During this unique time of limited opportunities for touch, clothing may play an even more critical role in helping fulfill this need to the extent it’s possible.

In a pandemic-riddled world now affected by a touch crisis, could it be that our relationship with products and dressing habits has evolved to integrate performance and lifestyle aesthetics that optimize everyday use?

Fashion's cornerstone

While positive change is on the horizon, there are many cultural influences injecting meaning into product through kinaesthetic ideals. To use a current example of a pandemic fashion trend, let’s take a look at Craig Green, a British fashion designer. Green uses the lens of fashion to drive people to think about how we experience clothing through touch and adaptability.

With the new environment we’re living in, could consideration of materials play a part in facilitating the way we live, or push us to recognize the importance of human connection to product?

Green’s collections prompt us to experience a product by feeling it, touching it, or using it. For those not familiar with his work, Green’s use of inflatables, multiple textures, and an array of accessories displayed in a wonderful sense of color is mood-boosting, to say the least.

Craig Green Fall 2022 collection - blue
Craig Green Fall 2022 collection - brown

Images via The Impression

Another interesting example was a most unlikely pairing from the Fall 2022 collection: Dior x Birkenstock, which embraces the comfy shoe obsession. The Iconic “Arizona” and “Boston” Birkenstock models have been re-imagined with a reinforced rubber toe. These updated models arrive in several fabrications, including grey felt and brown lambskin. There are signs all around us that we demand more from our clothes: future-proof performance meets traditional comfort.

Dior x Birkenstock clog brown
Dior x Birkenstock clog beige

Images via The Impression

New generation tactile

Myung Eun Cha is a womenswear designer and founder of her namesake label, Cha Myung. After being stuck in her apartment during lockdown, she found inspiration for her Fall/Winter collection titled “A Journey of Seeking Comfort.” She experimented with pillows and cushions as clothing and how they protect the body and offer a different take on contemporary “loungewear.” This is a fantastic problem-solving idea of developing a hybrid identity while having fun with a creative process.

Myung Eun Cha comfort collection - green
Myung Eun Cha comfort collection - yellow

Images via Highsnobiety

Perhaps there will be further transformation in the creation process of fashion products as comfort, efficiency, adaptability, and wellbeing are increasingly prioritized. Materials have the ability to offer us respite from busy lifestyles as well as protect us from injury and, in some cases, deter infection from the use of antiviral- or antimicrobial-coated textiles/leathers.

More material ideas and inspiration can be found on Material Exchange’s marketplace. In addition to serving as a sourcing tool, the platform offers data on all aspects of material specifications as well as supports outstanding Color, Materials, Finish (CMF) details.

Andrew Thompson, Creative and Design Director

About the author

Andrew Thompson is a thought leader with over twenty years’ experience as a footwear Trend Forecaster and Design Director having worked with brands such as Vans USA, Kurt Geiger, Topman, Nicole Fahri and Clarks International, to name a few. He is also founder of global consultancy Fable Footworks.

More from Andrew Thompson

The author of this blog post, Andrew Thompson, has also spoken at our webinar, The eco awakening of materials. Tune in to hear more from him here!

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