September 1, 2021 9:00:22 pm
It is old news that the pandemic has changed the way we dress. After all, how fancy can one be while they are working from home and not really going out much? There has been a renewed interest and emphasis on casual and comfort clothing in the last several months. And now, retail clothing giant Marks & Spencer has joined the discussion, having decided to cut down on its staple suits for men.
The Sunday Times reports that because many people were forced to work from home in the pandemic, the sale of office wear suffered immensely, leading to M&S stocking suits in only 110 of its 254 clothing stores in the UK.
In fact, it is instead favouring casual wear, with “rails of matching trousers and jackets” having been replaced by “chinos and a shirt”.
Since 1939, M&S has been one of the UK’s main sellers of men’s suits — be it “flared trousers and giant lapels in the 1970s” or “oversized shoulder pads and double-breasted jackets in the 1980s”. Now, it even sells men’s joggers and elasticated cotton trousers, which very few people would have previously associated with the retailer.
The report further mentions that in the year to April, the sale of formal wear were down by 15 per cent online and 72 per cent in stores, compared with last year. Interestingly, in the same period, the sale of casual-wear went up 61 per cent online.
An Independent report mentions that according to YouGov, one in five people in the UK want to work from home permanently post-pandemic, while more than one in three say they would like to work from home “some of the time”.
While the drop in sales could be understood to be because many offices have relaxed and been relaxing dress codes for many years now, the aforementioned rise in working-from-home has also accelerated the trend, the Sunday Times states.
Wes Taylor, the director of M&S menswear, was quoted saying: “During the pandemic, we worked hard to adapt our product offer to be more relevant to customers’ rapidly changing needs. Covid hit fast forward on the trend to more casual dressing that was already in train so our smartwear is now more focused on smart separates — easy to wear, stylish smart clothing that can be worn in lots of different ways.
“However, we still want to be the go-to for a great suit whatever the occasion. Lots of men want help buying a suit from an expert, so during the pandemic we also launched online video consultations.”
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