The Comfort Spectrum: Evolution of eCommerce

Global pandemic safety measures have changed the way your customer lives. The home is no longer just a place of rest. The once-clear divisions between apparel segments are blending into what we call the Comfort Spectrum.

The Comfort Spectrum: Evolution of eCommerce
Photo by Inside Weather / Unsplash

by Melina Gotera

Global pandemic safety measures have changed the way your customer lives. The home is no longer just a place of rest -- it’s an office, a conference room, a social hub and a gym. How has this affected their online shopping cart? The once-clear divisions between apparel segments are blending into what we call the Comfort Spectrum.

Crossing Over

A rapid surge in loungewear at the start of quarantine has resulted in new generational terms such as sweatpant fatigue*. As life and work flow become more intertwined, so do material and design trends. Unexpected fabrications are bridging the gap between these four styles of apparel

On the Active end of the spectrum, apparel is being elevated with luxury fibers like organic cotton and recycled polyester. Updates to performance and athleisure (historically strong segments) are holding up, especially as people use exercise to break up their day.

In Lounge and Basics, the industry is spotlighting trans-functional garments, like the modern robe coat. This two-mile-wear* staple fosters a seamless transition from the couch to the dog walk.  The industry is seeing a polished update for Lounge, made luxurious with sustainable fibers like bamboo in neutral palettes.

Above-the-keyboard* styles feature dressed-down smart casual for zoom conferences. On the far end, traditional Career apparel (the most formal one can get during lockdown) is comfort-infused with incognito stretch knits. Soft suiting is being fabricated in knit wool for wrinkle-resistance and optimum comfort.

Comfort in Tactility*

With millions of people isolated at home, consumers worldwide are seeking physical comfort and grounding. Tactile materials provide the consumer with a sense of security in uncertain times. Expect texture-rich textiles like corduroy, sherpa, slubby linen and slimline rib knits. We’ve also seen an uptick in sustainably-sourced natural fibers like wool and cashmere.

More with Less

Versatility and adaptability is a key way to add value for your guest. This can be offered through timeless, season-less garments, which can be worn for years without going out of style. Timelessness can be achieved with classic, neutral color palettes and understated silhouettes. Additionally, durability is paramount. Consumers are learning to buy less, buy better. This means investing in high-quality materials and manufacturing will keep that client coming back.

Trans-functionality* is another big buzzword. This means a piece can be worn on the couch, on a business video call and out of the house without looking out of place. Ideally, a garment like this balances comfort and style. The utility of these styles means a consumer gets more out of that loved piece, rather than forgetting it on a hanger.

Both of these trends speak to a push in core and an elimination of too many options. Offering a smaller assortment with a few really versatile, intentional pieces expresses exclusivity, trend awareness and quality. We recommend curating your assortment with some tested, timeless core products in classic colors with one or two trend colorways.

The New Savvy

With more time at home, consumers are more conscious of  their closets, buying habits and the companies they support. Sustainability, ethics and diversity are trending and the eCommerce shopper knows how to do their research. Our advice, meet consumers where they are by exploring your brand values and mission. Does your brand heart align with your practices? How can you communicate that to your customer?

What do you think? What material and design trends are key for SS21?

Terms Defined

*above-the-keyboard; a new term formed by a way of dress in which you only are put together from the keyboard up

*sweatpant fatigue; the condition of feeling tired of wearing sweatpants

*trans-functionality; anything that serves the purposes of multiple functional qualities that can be interchanged with one another

*two-mile-wear; an evolution of the Japanese term 1-mile fashion which refers all loungewear segments worn inside the home, two-mile wear takes those segments outside, as far as a 2-mile radius.

*tactility; responsiveness to stimulation of the sense of touch