We zero in on joggers – the unexpected retail heroes of 2020

As coronavirus restrictions took hold across the globe and the numbers working from home soared, it was inevitable that loungewear and athleisure – already strong trends before 2020 – would gain further ground as people sought comfort from their clothes and the need for smart everyday officewear faded. In August, analysis by retail tracking firm Edited revealed that the ‘work from home’ uniform has an emphasis on “smarter tops while maintaining comfort on the bottom” and notes that “smart joggers” are a safe investment. The company adds that post-Covid, “Consumers will be in search of pieces to take them from the couch to the conference room. Smart joggers, relaxed blazers and sleek sneakers are perfect examples of multifunctional wardrobe offerings.”

Celeb approval

The first sign that sweatpants (or joggers, tracksuit bottoms, trackies – insert your preferred description here…) had really hit the big time was when Anna Wintour, the legendary fashion journalist and editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine who is always impeccably dressed, was pictured wearing sweatpants during lockdown. Couple this with the enduring popularity of grey joggers amongst social media influencers – celebs such as supermodel Bella Hadid and singer Selena Gomez have even posted their sweatpant styles on TikTok and Instagram – and the garment’s must-have status for 2020 was assured.

Suppliers to the garment decoration industry have also reported a rise in demand for joggers. Kirsten Ferrol, deputy product manager for AWDis Brands, says: “We have seen a significant increase of uptake on our jogger sales in some key styles – our heather grey in particular has seen a rise in demand across all AWDis brands.” She attributes the increase in homeworking due to lockdown as “definitely a contributing factor”, adding: “People were prioritising comfort over traditional office clothing – joggers and jog shorts became the ‘go to’ garments. It also opened the style up to a wider market than the usual target audience and we have seen this reflected in sales. 

“Our more traditional relaxed-fit styles (such as the JH072 Cuffed Jogpants from Just Hoods) have performed better than our more fashion-forward tapered styles, which also suggests a wider audience are seeking this style. The increase of people getting out and going for walks with the family and home workouts while the gyms were closed is another reason why demand has increased for relaxed jogger styles.” Kirsten also reveals that AWDis brands have seen strong sales of jog shorts, including the Campus Shorts (JH080) from Just Hoods and Men’s Cool Jog Short (JC072) from Just Cool, which she says also reflects the demand for more relaxed, comfortable styles.

Traditional relaxed-fit styles such as the Just Hoods Cuffed Jogpants have performed better than tapered styles, reports Kirsten Ferrol of AWDis Brands

Selfie photoshoots

It’s a similar picture over at Henbury Brands, where Elaine Fyfe, brand manager for SF and Front Row & Co, reports: “There has been an increase in many loungewear styles, and in the instance of grey joggers we’ve seen between 30-50% growth on previous years’ sales.” According to Elaine, SF and Front Row garments appeal to many online retail businesses; this year, however, these retailers were unable to go ahead with their normal photoshoots due to the restrictions in place. Because of this, she says there was a widespread trend of brands turning to at-home ‘selfie’ style shoots to promote their products.

“This was particularly prevalent on Instagram where you’d see team members taking photos of themselves in the mirror, or using a self-timer to capture themselves wearing the latest samples,” says Elaine. “This low-budget approach meant that high-spec lighting was out of the question and from a practical viewpoint, darker colours like black and navy may not have photographed so well in smaller and poorly lit spaces. Heather grey would allow for a brighter image, showing more detail of the garment, and also works well over spring/summer.”

The SF Men’s Slim Fit Cuffed Joggers in heather grey are a topseller

The Men’s Cool Jog Short from Just Cool is an especially popular choice at present

Front Row’s Striped Cuffed Joggers launched in January this year

Popular styles during lockdown include the Front Row Striped Cuffed Joggers (FR640), which launched in January 2020 and saw “an evident peak” in June in the heather grey/navy colourway, and the SF Men’s Slim Fit Cuffed Joggers (SF425) in heather grey, which has seen a greater sales increase than the women’s companion style, the Women’s Slim Fit Cuffed Joggers (SK425). “It could be that people are buying it as a unisex garment and favouring a baggier fit for women – for the ultimate comfort and cosiness at home,” suggests Elaine.

With the latest government advice that people should work from home where possible, homeworking along with flexi-working, where employees split their working time between the office and their house, could be set to become the norm for many. As such, you can expect these comfortable tracksuit styles to remain popular for many months to come. For garment decorators, branded and personalised joggers represent a growing sales opportunity that could extend into 2021 and beyond.