Erin Fincher is having a reckoning—with her closet. In the nearly two years since the pandemic started, she has narrowed her social interactions, spent months holed up in leggings and sweatpants, had a baby and reassessed her priorities. As she looks ahead to the New Year and prepares to go back to the office a few times a week, she realizes that much of her pre-pandemic wardrobe no longer reflects her identity.
So she has filled three garbage bags with clothes and shoes to donate, and moved many other suits and high-heeled shoes into basement storage. She put away four black A-line dresses, at least a half-dozen Express blazers, and at least 10 button-down dress shirts.
“They were a person I used to put out into the world,” says Ms. Fincher, a graphic designer based in the Washington, D.C., area. “As I look at my clothing and weed things out, sometimes I question, ‘Who was I trying to be in the past and who do I want to be in the future?’ ”
After living for so long in sweatpants, some people are finding that their home closets—filled with suits, formal shoes, purses, blazers and belts—can feel like overstuffed relics from another life. Nearly three-quarters of respondents in a November survey by consumer research firm CivicScience of more than 4,200 U.S. adults said their closets contain many things they will never wear again. Only 15% said they want to leave their closets as-is.
Even Tim Gunn, the TV fashion mentor known for his tailored suits and coordinated pocket squares, says his style has shifted during the pandemic. He now reaches more for casual attire such as jeans or chinos paired with turtlenecks and a blazer, he says. “It’s hard after you experience the comfort trap to go back to clothes that constrain you,” says the co-host, along with model Heidi Klum, of “Making the Cut.” “I had an epiphany in how I want to present myself to the world,” he says.
The pandemic closet purge isn’t merely an exercise in swapping formal clothes for casual ones, stylists say. The purge feeds a desire to simplify during complicated, uncertain times. And it’s an acknowledgment that looks created in the before times often seem false or irrelevant now.
“During Covid, we had to live with ourselves for a long time, and so it gave us time to think, like ‘wait. What do we actually like?’ ” says Nashville-based stylist Payton Dale. “So many of us are walking around conveying this fake persona of what we think we’re supposed to be.”
Retreating into homes has blurred the boundaries of work, family and social life; clothing geared around those siloed identities no longer makes sense, she says. “Before, for women especially, it was, ‘Here’s your mom outfit. Here’s your office outfit. Here’s the event outfit,’ ” says Ms. Dale. “We were existing for other people and the roles we created.”
During the pandemic she started conducting what she calls “soul styling” sessions. She charges between $450 and $600 for three virtual one-hour sessions that involve discussion of personality, style idols, and a “mood board” of looks. Her business has doubled since the start of the pandemic, she says.
Professional organizers, stylists and secondhand clothing retailers say business is booming. Online thrift store thredUP Inc. says consumer requests for free “clean-out kits”—bags and shipping labels for consumers who want to clear their closets of clothing—were up 67% in the three months ended Sept. 30 compared with the same period last year.
Holiday parties, a resumption of some in-person office work, and increased socializing, even under the cloud of Omicron, has prompted more questions from clients about how they want to appear, says Ellen Delap, a certified professional organizer in Kingwood, Texas.
Closets these days are “like an archaeological dig,” she says. “It’s not just putting on clothes. It’s much more than that,” she says. Suits, belts, purses and formal attire often go to consignment or to storage, she says. “People are seeking a simpler way to get out the door.”
Washington, D.C.-based Current Boutique, a secondhand retailer, says it received more than 22,000 pieces of clothing from consignors in September and October this year—the highest amount owner Carmen Lopez has seen in over 15 years—compared with roughly 15,000 during those two months of 2020 and about 19,000 for the same period in 2019.
Many of the items people are discarding are more formal, fancier pieces. “There’s a feeling you don’t have to fit into what you’re ‘supposed’ to wear,” says Ms. Lopez.
In the last six months, Julia Elrod has pieced together a new look that she describes as “retro academic punk.” This winter, the senior program analyst in Brentwood, Md., foresees a life that gets her out of the house more: She will likely start heading back into the office four times a week, and hopes to get together more with friends and even go out on dates with her husband. None of the stay-at-home leggings and long sweaters appeal to her anymore.
Merely getting rid of a bunch of clothes “felt like a Band-Aid,” she says. She wanted not only to cull her closet but also to find clothes that better fit her new sense of self.
“Pandemic life kind of coincided with becoming a new mom and working from home and trying to figure out what’s really important in life,” she says. “I don’t want to be the person fussing over a giant wardrobe.”
Starting a year ago, she spent $450 on consulting sessions with Ms. Dale. She has pulled together six garbage bags stuffed with leggings, blazers and work pants that no longer fit and will donate them. One of her new favorite looks: an old Star Wars or rock concert T-shirt paired with a blazer and high-waisted jeans. She wore the outfit to dinner recently with a work friend.
“I felt like myself,” she says. “And like I could focus on what I was out for and not my clothes.”
Christopher Rim purged his closet of 14 Tom Ford suits and over 30 ties, giving them to friends and to his younger brother who works in finance. “I haven’t worn a suit since February of 2020,” says the 26-year-old founder of an education-consulting firm, who lives in Miami. He met recently with a client while wearing a T-shirt and jeans; his client wore the same. “In another time we would have both been wearing suits,” he says.
He feels more at ease without the fuss of matching a tie or polishing shoes or carrying a suit jacket. “A lot has changed. People are more relaxed and a little more casual and comfortable,” he says. “I think it’s a good thing.”
Last year, many people got many things wrong about how the pandemic might change our lives. No, cities did not die; yes, people still blow out birthday candles and risk spreading their germs. But few 2020 forecasts missed their mark so spectacularly as the oft-repeated claim that, as the world reopened, we’d return to it in sweatpants.
If any single event crystallizes this misfire, it’s last month’s announcement that the direct-to-consumer loungewear brand Entireworld was going out of business. The company had been a breakout darling of 2020, its cheerfully hued cotton basics poised at the fortuitous intersection of “cute enough for Zoom” and “cozy enough to work, sleep, and recreate from bed in, for the bulk of a calendar year”. News outlets, meanwhile, pointed to Entireworld’s astonishing 662% increase in sales last March not as a right-place, right-time one-off, but an indication of our collective sartorial destiny.
The sweatpant has supplanted the blue jean in the pants-wearing American imagination,” declared GQ last April. The New York Times Magazine followed suit a few months later with an Entireworld name-check in its August 2020 cover story, headlined “Sweatpants Forever”.
But it wasn’t to be. Instead, as 2021 brought forth the world’s reopening, I noticed a style sensibility that seemed to defy last year’s housebound pragmatism. From Instagram to the streets of my New York City neighborhood, the people were turning looks. Kooky looks, to be precise, from platform Crocs to strong-shouldered silhouettes.
My online window shopping exploits turned up scores of sundry garments, across brands, all in the same exuberant hue of 90s DayGlo green. From sensible underpants to faux fur–trimmed tops, I subconsciously catalogued the color labels assigned to each (“celery”, “gross green”, “slime”).
This new, psychedelic palette seemed like a spiritual departure from Trump-era minimalism and its many shades of beige. Less dutiful, more winking.
Sweatpants seem destined for a mere supporting role. Jessica Richards, a trend forecasting consultant based in New York City, agrees that the pandemic has changed the way we dress. “It’s actually for the better,” she says – and in more ways than one.
It’s no coincidence that the styles of the Great Re-entry reflect a certain giddiness, says Dr Jaehee Jung, a University of Delaware fashion studies professor who researches the psychology of fashion and consumer behavior. “The fact that there are more opportunities to present ourselves to others makes us excited about the clothes we wear,” Jung tells me.
“I’m definitely seeing people taking more risks, in terms of color choices, prints and patterns, even shapes and silhouettes that they wouldn’t have worn before,” says Sydney Mintle, a fashion industry publicist in Seattle. “People are like, ‘life is short, wear yellow.’”
Tamar Miller, CEO of the women’s luxury footwear brand Bells & Becks, has seen this fashion risk-taking impulse first-hand in her company’s recent sales. “My absolute, number-one, kind of off-the-charts shoe is one I did not expect,” she says.
That shoe, per Miller’s description, is a pointed-toe loafer in black-and-white snakeskin leather, topped by a prominent decorative tab with hardware detailing. It’s a bold choice, and one that affirms the demographic breadth of the desire to make a statement. Miller’s target customers are not members of Gen Z, but rather their parents and grandparents.
Secondhand clothing – and its promise of luxe-for-less – has also found its time to shine.
2020 was a banner year for the online resale market. Digital consignment platforms like Depop, ThredUp, and Poshmark swelled with the sartorial discards of an estimated 52.6 million people in 2020, 36.2 million of whom were selling for the first time, according to a survey by ThredUp. A majority of millennial and Gen Z consumers indicated that they plan to spend more on secondhand apparel in the next five years than in any other retail category, a sentiment expressed by 42% of consumers overall.
It’s a phenomenon that may also be contributing to the moment’s ethos of mix-and-match experimentation. “Gone are the days of sleek, edited ‘capsule wardrobes’, and in their place are drawers overstuffed with vintage treasures sourced from Poshmark or Depop,” writes Isabel Slone in a recent Harper’s Bazaar article headlined “How Gen Z Killed Basic Black”.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that fast fashion is on its way out. (“Some of those brands are doing big business, and the numbers don’t lie,” Mintle sighs.) But the boom reflects, and may have helped accelerate, a growing departure from trend-chasing and disposable, low-cost wares. You might even say that reflexive participation in fads is so 2019 – not least because the US is struggling with supply chain bottlenecks as we enter the holiday season.
But our Roaring Twenties may be on the horizon. For 2022, Richards anticipates sparkle, novelty, “shoes that go ‘clunk’” and “really maximalist styling”. She didn’t mention sweatpants.
Over 30? Then you had better read on. Shein may not be a household name like e-commerce giants, Alibaba BABA-0.4%, Taobao, or JD.com, but as China’s newest retail Decacorn, its mystery-shrouded low profile is matched only by a single-minded ambition to become a global fast-fashion retailer.
Founded in 2008, Nanjing-based Shein is aimed squarely at Gen Z, luring young shoppers via Instagram and TikTok influencers and a barrage of discount codes for low-cost styles – with a dress costing just half that of a Zara equivalent, according to Societe Generale – uploading new products online in their hundreds every week.
Yet beyond its teen audience, ultra-publicity shy Shein remains largely unknown. But that anonymity could all be about to change after the Pearl River-based company became a surprise potential bidder for ailing U.K. fashion group Arcadia. While it failed in that attempt, the message is clear: Shein is ready to take on Main Street.
The story really starts at the beginning of 2012, when notoriously hard-working founder and CEO Chris Xu (sometimes known as Yangtian Xu) – an American-born graduate of Washington University – gave up his wedding dress business to acquire the domain Sheinside.com. Initially selling women’s clothing, in 2015 he renamed the company Shein, focused on overseas markets, and began snapping up fashion rivals.
Remember that age/awareness divide? Well, in the week starting September 27, Shein was apparently the most downloaded shopping app globally on iPhone, according to analytics platform App Annie. It ranked in the top 10 in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, the U.K., and Saudi Arabia.
To service the U.S. market, products are sent from Shein’s warehouse in Foshan, Guangdong province, to a warehouse near Los Angeles, Ca., and fulfillment can take over ten days, glacial by Amazon Prime’s AMZN+0.5% next-day delivery standards. But its affordability has ensured a loyal customer base, lured by an ever-changing roster of women’s clothing and accessories added at an average of 2,000 SKUs every day.
Shein is obsessed with identifying hot searches and trends in different countries to predict the colors, fabrics, and styles that will be popular, with an even faster cycle than Zara owner Inditex. It then promotes heavily with Instagram- and Weibo-friendly imagery, for accessible and attainable fashions across all its social platforms.
However, Shein’s ascent has not been without its problems. In July it was roundly condemned for having a swastika pendant available (an error for which it profusely apologized), while paid-for posts from celebrities and fashion influencers have elevated the brand’s image as well as slowly rebutting its low–cost, low–quality rap. The label even managed to sequester stars like Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, and Rita Ora for its May 2020 #SHEINTogether global streaming event.
The Emergence Of A Global Fashion Player
All this remember for a company that didn’t even have its own supply chain before 2014, preferring to buy directly from Guangzhou’s Shisanhang Garment Wholesale Market. However, faced with soaring demand, Xu created an in-house design team and within two years had assembled an 800-strong army dedicated to designs and prototyping for ultra-fast production. It also garnered a reputation for timely payment, something of a rarity in China, and as a result when Shein moved its supply chain operations center from Guangzhou to Panyu in 2015, almost all of the factories it worked with relocated.
In the same year, Shein entered the Middle East and sales soared, with revenues in 2016 rising to $617 million and exceeding $1.5 billion the year after.
Shein and the hundreds of factories that work with the company have coalesced in a production cluster bearing close similarities to A Coruña in north-east Spain, where Inditex’s headquarters are surrounded by its upstream and downstream suppliers. It has four R&D facilities in Nanjing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou, plus six logistics centers in Foshan, Nansha, Belgium, India, and on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. It also has seven customer service centers, based out of Los Angeles, Liege, Manila, Yiwu, and Nanjing, and employs more than 10,000 people.
Future plans are thought to include the development of new businesses in mobile payments, supply chain finance, advertising, and, of course, opening brick-and-mortar stores. Whatever happens, it’s likely to do it ultra-fast.
I am a global retail and real estate expert who looks behind the headlines to figure out what makes consumers tick. I work as editor-in-chief for MAPIC and editor for World Retail Congress, two of the biggest annual international retail business events. I also organise, speak at, and chair conferences all over the world, with a focus on how people are changing and what that means for the retail, food & beverage, and leisure industries. And it’s complicated! Forget the tired mantra that online killed the store and remember instead that retail has always been dog-eat-dog: star names rise and fall fast, and only retailers that embrace the madness will survive. Don’t think it’s not important, your pension funds own those malls!
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If you know anything about the history of glasses, you would know that they weren’t always viewed as a popular fashion accessory. Glasses for fashion used to be a remote idea that was only feasible in the galaxy far far away.
Specs were only used as a means for vision correction and anybody who wore them was either considered a nerd or a bookworm.
As portrayed in hollywood movies and shows, glasses represented shy or reserved souls who couldn’t do no wrong. Or they were used to portray insecure bespectacled ladies in rom-coms who removed their glasses to unleash the sexy diva within.
But, this negative reputation of glasses was soon refuted with the arrival of designer glasses frames that were everything from cute, stylish, nerdy to sexy.
It’s a different story now. People with 20/20 vision wear frames like transparent glasses or tortoiseshells to make a strong fashion statement.
The psychology behind glasses
Glasses shifted from being a vision necessity to being a staple fashion accessory. Today, the choices are abundant with different styles of frames in different designs and colours.
No matter if you wear glasses for fashion or specs with a prescription, they are saying a lot about you while sitting quietly on your face. Your eyewear holds the power to make you look trustworthy, honest, intelligent, or sophisticated.
Apart from sending cues about your personality, your designer glasses also help others to form a perception of you. They open the door for subconscious evaluation and here is what people might think of you.
You are easy to approach
Did we mention that glasses make you look more intelligent? So you better not act all surprised when people come to you to seek your valuable opinion on something. Especially if you are sporting transparent glasses or hipster frames.
Your eyeglasses help forming people’s perception of you. It is easier to strike up a conversation with someone who appears smart and trustworthy due to their specs than a non glasses wearer whose personality can’t be predicted.
It’s almost as if your glasses yield some kind of special powers. Also, wearing glasses is a way to tell the world that you are not embarrassed by your flaws (in this case, your imperfect vision). Instead, you are rocking your glasses with pride to let out your human side. What more does a person need to be approachable?
That becomes your signature look
We all have a signature look. It is described around the way we usually style ourselves. For instance, if you like to go bold on accessories, that becomes your signature style.
Whether you wear designer glasses in chunky frames or specs in thin titanium frames, they are making a statement about your style.
When you sport glasses every day, they kind of become your signature look. We are not saying that they define the type of person you are. But, they become an inseparable part of your overall appearance.
The signature look is not only for people coming from creative or artistic fields. You can be a student with transparent glasses or wooden frames and they become your signature look.
It is not a secret that glasses give a powerful boost of self-confidence. So, if you used to shy away from wearing them before, just bear in mind what wonders they could have done for your self-confidence and esteem.
They highlight your best features
What glasses you choose to wear is a matter of personal choice and style preference. We all want our individuality to reflect in our appearance.
Another good thing that comes along with wearing designer glasses is that they help you put your best features forward. If you have blue eyes, you can emphasize the colour with frames in blue shades or muted tones. And if there is a facial feature you would like to hide, glasses can do that as well.
In case you want your eyeglasses to just sit there without interfering with your overall look, transparent glasses or clear frames will do just that.
There are so many different types of frames out there. It all comes down to your features, skin tone, and lifestyle to choose the right one for you. If you fancy a rather minimalistic look, rimless frames are the best choice. Picking subtle frames when buying reading glasses online can be great too.
People identify you by your glasses
Eyeglass wearers have the advantage to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Thanks to their glasses, their individuality is far more prominent than those who don’t wear any.
If you like to wear those big chunky frames in weird patterns and unique designs, people will recognize you in a second no matter where you go.
Just like tattoos and lip piercings create a unique look, glasses are made to do just that, even more so, when you wear statement glasses. Transparent glasses might not be a smart choice when you are looking to distinguish yourself from other people.
For a unique look, don’t hesitate to go for intimidating frames like oversized glasses or quirky geometric specs. You can do that to your readers as well. You will find a variety of frame styles when you search for reading glasses online. Pick out a unique and bold style to stand out from the crowd.
They help you in your career
Since your glasses give out an intellectual vibe, they help you in situations like job interviews and things like that. Sounds a bit silly, right?
Wearing glasses makes people think that you are one of those intelligent people who will be the right fit for the job. If you are a man, stick to rectangular or square frames in neutral shades to do the interview right. If you are a lady, designer glasses cat-eye frames with modest curves and black colour will bode well with your career progression.
Now that you know what glasses are capable of, do you need any more reason to wear them? Even if your eyes are doing just fine, there are countless glasses for fashion out there for you.
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It was in 2009 when former J.Mendel Creative Director Bibhu Mohapatra decided it was time to launch his eponymous label. Since then, he has dressed some of the most elegant women on the A-list including Viola Davis, Gweneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong’o and of course, the former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Bibhu Mohapatra brand is known for uniting ancient craft with seamless tailoring. Bibhu shares, “When I think about my work, it always goes back to this idea of craft. Crafts that are ancient or dying or actively being reinvented.” He does this once again despite a rather icy fashion climate in 2020, with the premiere of the Spring/ Summer 2021 collection at New York Fashion Week and the first ever International Digital Fashion Week.
The collection’s muse, Amrita Sher-Gil, is an Indian art pioneer and revolutionary who challenged the status quo. She paved the road for future female artists to make their voices heard despite a political and social environment largely dominated by men. Instead of the traditional runway show, Bibhu worked closely with New York-based filmmaker Shruti Ganguly and lensman JD Urban to create a captivating film celebrating the life and times of Amrita. Bibhu’s team enlisted Hamilton Alum Ariana DeBose and Reema Sampat to star in the film.
Pieces featured in this digital presentation are faithful to the Bibhu aesthetic—architectural and sculptural yet infused with celebratory movement and sense of timelessness. The 26-piece collection highlighted an uncompromising mindset for perfecting details.
Guipure lace, tulle, Chantilly lace and silks were customized just for this collection, creating sense of contrast against details like Supima cotton and embroidered denims. In true form, vibrant color ways of lime, pink, blue and chartreuse played a key role in setting the optimistic mood for the collection. Striking silhouettes through outsized shoulders and unexpected finishes reflected a brand of idealism, ready to explore and embrace a departure from the conventional.
Bibhu expounds: “I wanted to see change and make change an inspiring process. I wanted to collaborate with artists of different genres to articulate my craft. So often, it is the work of artists confirming the darkness and obstacles in our world that ultimately help us make sense of our place within in. This moment in history—if we are listening and looking deeply with our whole selves—has the power to permanently shift our perceptions…Because standing still is no longer an option.”
Luxury fashion and design are two things that I am most passionate about. After being a features editor for a top fashion magazine in Manila called Mega Magazine, I moved to Paris to take up my MBA specializing in Luxury Goods and Fashion Industries. After two years of intensive study and a lot of fine wine in Paris, I returned to Manila to put up my own luxury online store. I’ve also been writing for the Philippines’ top lifestyle magazine, Lifestyle Asia, a publication that aims to define the authentic experience of fine living.
What happens when Glam stops by Bibhu Mohapatra’s studio, with his favorite fast food in hand? From discussions about the First Lady to his architectural passions, we’re taking you directly into his design space, for secrets from where his breathtaking pieces are created, complete with everyone’s guilty pleasure – french fries.