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At the beginning of the pandemic, Dina Gachman was not exactly wearing her Sunday best. She has a toddler who was out of school. She was trying to work.
“I probably had a robe on half the day and my hair was just a complete mess,” Gachman said. “And then I started to think, ‘OK, it’s gonna make me feel better, and it’s going to be better for my sanity if I maybe put some mascara on or put on an actual outfit.”
Eventually, Gachman, who lives in Austin, Texas, even bought some new clothes.
“I got one pair of pants from Target that are very soft, comfortable cargo type pants that I could probably sleep in, but then I could also wear with heels,” she said.
Sorry, heels? What are those again?
But that right there — that is the sweet spot retailers are aiming for. Clothes that are comfortable but don’t make you feel like you’ve completely let yourself go.
Zara, the Spanish fast fashion retailer, just announced that it has a new lingerie collection, much of which could be described as stuff you’d wear to lounge around the house — loose-fitting cotton pajama pants and silk button-down shirts. Also, Kohl’s says it will be launching an athleisure brand in the spring.
Bronwyn Cosgrave, who hosts the fashion podcast A Different Tweed, said there’s a particular consumer these retailers are targeting: “a woman who did get dressed up to go to the office and doesn’t want to lose that aspect, however, is not dressing up to the degree of a year ago.”
Buying lingerie and athleisure is becoming a form of retail therapy for many women, Cosgrave said.
“It is an affordable luxury,” she said. “It’s an impulse buy that’s not going to dent one’s mortgage payments or car payments.”
In recessions past, women bought lipstick instead. But lipstick and masks …not the best combination.
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