“The longer we stay in this pandemic, the more our relationship with fashion will evolve,” said Dawnn Karen, a fashion psychologist and branding consultant. Putting aside jokes about never wearing bras or buttons again, retailers are genuinely trying to figure out how lasting the impact of COVID-19 will be on consumers shopping and fashion habits. Comfortable clothes, from slippers to hoodies, are trending upward with consumers and retailers responding.
According to an article in The Washington Post on changing fashion trends during the pandemic, “Slipper sales doubled in April, as Americans splurged on higher-priced options such as fur-lined Ugg products. Crocs, known for their homely but comfortable signature foam clog, also have been ‘super hot.’” Additionally, the change in fashion circumstances is offering some direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that specialize in comfy clothes, a chance to shine.
DTC Brands Pivot To Match Consumer Experiences & Needs
When Birdies, a DTC shoe brand, was plotting their 2020 marketing strategies, the emphasis was on outdoor shoes, with “Travel Boldly” the chosen slogan. Then the pandemic hit, and the brand quickly had to change directions. Birdies was originally a slipper company, so they quickly pivoted to resuscitating retired slipper styles that had been popular, instead of reinventing the wheel. Bianca Gates, Birdies CEO, noted, “Sales in the last two weeks of March, all of which are coming through the brand’s direct ecommerce channel, surpassed last year’s numbers in the same period.”
Another popular DTC shoe brand, Saludos, focused on their sweatshirts in response to consumer demand. And, Rothy’s, famous for their flats, found success with reusable, washable totes at a time when the brand was unsure of launching new bags. “[The pandemic] has served as a great reminder to meet the customer where they’re at and to ensure that both our product selection and product storytelling are fitting our customer’s needs and their current experiences,” said Nick Brown, Founder of Saludos.
Comfortable Underwear Sales Grow As More People Work From Home
Four weeks into lockdown, Figleaves, a lingerie brand in the U.K., said “sales of non-wired bras and bralettes are up 40%” compared to the same time last year. Structured bras were an early victim of the move toward comfortable clothing. If women were going to balance Zoom calls, homeschooling and all the usual life issues — during a pandemic — they were going to do it in comfort. Lively, a DTC lingerie brand, has created a “work from home” tab on their website that focuses on comfortable styles and bundled discounts, and the brand recently launched a line of comfy, branded sweatshirts and tshirts. Many bra companies also sell pajamas, which saw sales soar 143% in April. People really want to be comfortable.
With More Time Spent On Social Media, Social Platforms Boost DTC Marketing Efforts
Social media is an important marketing channel for many DTC brands, because social campaigns can boost brand awareness and engagement while driving website traffic and ecommerce sales from some social platforms. (And, social media usage has increased during quarantines.) Helena Kaylin, founder of Mindd, a DTC bra company that only recently launched, has been keen to rely on organic growth, but also “focused on paid Instagram and Facebook ads” in order “to get in front of customers shopping at home.”
Nap Dresses Are Having A Moment, And Supporting Customer Acquisition
In a recent Fashionista survey, one respondent said, “I am excited to dress up, but may never wear pants with buttons again.” This attitude could explain the latest trend in comfortable clothing: The nap dress. A nap dress, not to be confused with a nightgown, is a dress pretty enough to sleep in and wear outside. “The dresses are usually made of soft, breathable cotton, and in delicate florals or solid white, they are perfect for summer days. Simply add your favorite minimal sandal or wear one over a swimsuit. These dresses feel like special ‘treat yourself’ purchases — a stylish addition to your wardrobe, day or night,” explained POPSUGAR.
Hill House Home, which describes itself as “Home of The Nap Dress,” has a brand perfectly crafted around the comfortable lifestyle that demands a nap dress. The content marketing of Hill House Home includes the 40 Winks Blog which features stories from women about how they style their bedside tables and what their nighttime routines are, and the Hill House Home Instagram account is equally as cozy. Primarily a home company, their nap dresses have been a boon for the brand, particularly this summer. “Our biggest sales day ever was in December 2019, on the launch of the holiday plaid nap dresses. We launched our summer nap dresses [on July 1] and that replaced December as our biggest sales day ever by six times," said Nell Diamond, Founder. Nap dresses are frequently the first purchase for people new to Hill House Home, which means sales of nap dresses are boosting the customer acquisition efforts for Hill House Home.
Digital marketers trying to meet the needs of consumers, from cozy slippers to cool summer dresses, need to be prepared for changes in the preferences of their consumers, but also for changes around the country. What isn’t allowed one day may be allowed a month later, which could impact the needs and wants of consumers. Successful brands stay in tune with 2020 and beyond through social listening and the agility to pivot as quickly as needed. The brands that can adapt are most likely to thrive.
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About the AuthorMore Content by Sarah Cavill