In this crazy, mixed up world, sweatpants are in

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In this crazy, mixed up world, sweatpants are in

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Models pose in organic cotton pajamas designed by Shinsegae International’s home furnishings brand Jaju. [SHINSEGAE INTERNATIONAL]

Loungewear is in and formal clothing is out.

With more Koreans staying at home due to the pandemic and practicing social distancing, many are starting to favor and learning to love loose-fitting clothes with elastic waistbands and other garments and accessories suitable for the housebound.

Pajamas and tracksuits are even becoming trendy among millennials, especially after many celebrities were seen wearing them at airports and in other public spaces.

Tracksuits are now popular business attire for those working from home, and they are getting the look down to a science.

“A lot of remote workers wear formal wear on top for the camera and comfortable stretchy clothes on the bottom,” said an official from Shinsegae Department Store. “Fashion brands are trying to adjust their design to meet those needs.”

Higher demand for athleisure is borne out by the numbers.

E-commerce site Auction said sales of leggings for women more than doubled in March compared to the previous year. Other items of clothing, such as sweatpants, cardigans and loose-fitting T-shirts, which are typically worn with leggings, were also popular.

Men have been looking for similar clothing items. Action said that matching fitness clothes and casual pants were among the most popular items in March.

Sales of pajamas in the first quarter increased by 318 percent on year at Shinsegae International’s Jaju. To cash in on the trend for comfy wear, Jaju recently launched an organic cotton pajama line.

As the growth in the sale of comfy clothes continues to outpace that of other styles, fashion brands are trying to expand their design lineups to include products for customers looking for stylish but comfortable clothes.

Athleisure brand Andar, known for its yoga attire, is trying to expand its designs to include everyday wear clothing and recently launched a “lifestyle wear collection.” Andar’s operating profit for the first quarter increased by 200 percent compared to the same period last year.

Casual wear and dress clothing brand Juicy Couture has recently added an athleisure line for the spring and summer collection. It also decided to increase its selection of signature velour tracksuits by 40 percent.

Shoppers aren’t just splurging on basic black leggings. More customers are looking for items with vivid colors and vibrant patterns, as a way to spice up their mundane lives staying home.

In the case of Allo&lugh, a local fashion brand for children, its summer dress line is being upgraded with lace, vivid colors and bold prints.

Fashion brand, Ed Hardy, known for its extravagant skull and tiger patterns, is doubling the number of tracksuit designs offered this season. It relaunched its tiger-patterned tracksuits, which were sold out during the fall and winter season, with lighter fabric.

Summer clothes are displayed in department stores earlier than usual as customers missed the opportunity to spend with abandon on spring clothes.

Major retailers are betting on the warming of the globe. They started displaying summer clothes one to two months earlier than the last season. Lotte Homeshopping offered summer clothes from March 20 and CJ O Shopping from March 26.

The biggest change the coronavirus brought to the fashion industry is the diverse design of face masks. As face masks became a staple item in wardrobes, the market for fashionable face masks is growing rapidly.

The first batch of functional fashion masks from Etiqa was completely sold out early last month and continued to sell well since restocking.

High-end face mask brand BreaThe Suit was offered a space to open a pop-up store at Hyundai Department Store’s Pangyo branch in Gyeonggi and Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam branch in southern Seoul.

Sportswear brands and fashion brands are scrambling to enter the market for fashionable masks.

Namyeung Vivien started offering a 3-D fashion mask for those looking to cover up their face but stay on trend. Other fashion brands and sportswear brands, like Hazzys, Fila, Eider and Renoma Sports, have joined the fashion mask trend, putting out their own functional yet stylish face masks.

“As the social distancing campaign continues, more customers are using fashion as a way to invigorate their mood. That coupled with the change in their daily lives has created a new trend,” said an industry source.

BY CHU IN-YOUNG [kang.jaeeun@joongang.co.kr]

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