Covid fashion: Indoors is out, outdoors is in

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Covid fashion: Indoors is out, outdoors is in


A man peruses hiking gear at a large retail store in Seoul on April 9. [NEWS1]

Although the fashion industry has taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, demand for outdoor wear is experiencing a resurgence as the weather warms and the social distancing drive closes indoor sports facilities.

“Although people are making fewer outdoor dinner plans out of fear of the coronavirus spread, playing golf in the field doesn’t seem to worry people much, since it’s easier to keep your distance from others,” said Kim Jin-soo, a 38-year-old office worker. “My friends and I play golf not only to exercise but also to relieve our frustration of the prolonged coronavirus outbreak,” he added.

During the week beginning April 6, Lotte Department Store reported a 30.8 percent increase in sales for fashion brands that produce hiking clothes, compared with the previous week. Sales of golfing clothes and related items also experienced a 5 percent bump during that time frame, the company said.

But a Lotte Department Store official said overall sales have continued to fall.

PGA Tour & LPGA Golfware, a golf clothing brand run by Hansae MK, said its sales rose 26.8 percent this month compared to the same month last year.

Demand for Fashion Group Hyungji’s golf wear brand Castelbajac rose to last year’s level this month, as sales have grown 20 percent each week since the third week of March. The brand’s online sales more than doubled compared to last year. Having recently strengthened its e-commerce presence, Castelbajac seems to have enjoyed the effects of increased online shopping amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The sales of outdoors-related items are also on the rise.

Choi Min-ho, a 45-year-old Seoul resident, said he’s noticed an increase in the number of young people who go hiking, a pastime he himself picked up recently.

“Hiking is helping me overcome my corona blues,” Choi said. “As the gym that I used to go to temporarily closed due to the government’s social distancing measures, there is no other way to exercise. With the nice spring weather, the famous mountains in Seoul are already crowded on weekends.”

The number of hikers who visited Mount Bukhan from January through March 18 increased 45.7 percent from the same period last year, according to statistics from Bukhansan National Park. The majority of visitors were in their 50s and 60s, but the closure of fitness centers and indoor sports facilities in the city is driving more younger people in their 20s and 30s to visit the mountains to recreate.

Sales of hiking boots on e-commerce platform WeMakePrice rose 54.1 percent during the two-week period ending in early April, compared with the previous two weeks.

“After reaching a peak in 2014, hiking wear sales have been stagnant as many people turned to aquatic leisure activities,” said an official from the outdoor industry. “But due to the coronavirus outbreak, the hiking trend is back again.”

Meanwhile, the popularity of athleisure brands has been growing steadily since the implementation of the 52-hour workweek - a trend accelerated by the virus-fueled increase in telecommuting.

First-quarter sales of Andar, a sportswear brand that sells leggings and tights, tripled from the same period last year, and the company’s sales of athleisure products increased by more than 35 percent in March from the previous month.

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