What can give a better idea about fashion in the pandemic era other than a simple scroll through Instagram? People all over the world are adopting a more casual style of clothing as they spend most of the time at home. Undoubtedly, there are fashion lovers who are dressing up at home simply for the joy they get from it, without even going outside.
Comfort becomes the new favourite
Amid the pandemic, comfort dressing has become the quarantine style here in Bangladesh too, as elsewhere in the world. People’s attention has shifted from indulging in luxury items to hoarding necessities. Necessities heavily dominate sales while many households feel the economic pressure created by the Covid-19 crisis. In the event of going out, everybody has to hide their faces behind masks. As a result, the sale of makeup and other beautification products plummeted significantly.
Take the case of Naha Nishat, who runs her own online clothing business ‘AgdumBagdum.’ She mentioned she had not used any makeup products for the whole month of April because she did not have to leave her home and could source her products online. And such things being habits are anything but gone, even as the lockdown was lifted long ago.
As of June 2020, the e-commerce industry incurred a loss of Tk 6.66 billion as a whole, according to a study conducted by e-CAB on its 1,100 member companies. There was a significant decline in f-commerce sales of luxury goods. Nevertheless, as people resorted to the corners of their homes, online apparel shopping has gradually grown.
Tashria, a BBA student from IBA, said that she has switched to buying more comfy clothes like t-shirts and pyjamas for regular use at home.
“After all, a cute t-shirt paired with your favourite pyjamas, a Netflix TV show and comfort food can be a great therapeutic combination at a time when the pandemic plus online classes/work is taking a toll on our mental health.”
Men’s clothing trends too have seen a similar shift to more comfort-giving ones. NashrifRian, a software engineer from Mirpur, has been totally into shorts and three-quarters with light t-shirts. Since the office is closed, he goes to shopping malls and restaurants wearing a half-pant and a casual shirt.
ArefinTurzo, a medical student from GonoshasthayaSamajVittik Medical College, said the same. He has been wearing loose trousers and ‘Fatua’ (one kind of shirt) since his medical college was shut. “The logic is simple. When you go out, your clothes might get contaminated by virus droplets and you need to clean them. These casual outfits are easy to clean and dry out,” said Turzo.
Healthy bits of advice
The adoption of casual wear has had an inevitable impact on the choice of shoes. People have begun using flat sandals at home and sneakers outside as alternatives to heels and formal shoes. However, women should keep it in mind that shifting back to heels would put more pressure on the ball of their foot and increase stress on the bones because of their bones becoming conditioned to flats or low heel sandals.
“This can cause anything from stress fractures to back pain to knee pain,” observed Australian sports podiatrist Emily Smith. She also recommended beginning with comfortable heels and wearing heels or flats with proper arch support or attaching insoles into shoes to condition the legs properly once people are back into those habits again.
The face mask fashion
The most eye-grabbing trend during this pandemic that has been followed by a large number of people is the use of face masks designed to match with their attire. Mid-March marked the beginning of the widespread use of blue surgical masks and the N95 masks. But as the market always does, it adapted and responded to consumer demand by producing face masks of a variety of colours, adorned with embroidery or colourful prints, from which consumers can choose one to match with their clothes.
“Those masks initially looked weird with other outfits. But solutions came fast as thousands of varieties of masks surfaced throughout online markets and f-commerce platforms. I bought about a dozen masks to match with my clothing,” said Lira (single name,) a very fashion-conscious girl from Dhaka University. However, masks made of soft and sleek clothes are a necessity for others, for instance, SanzidaMaliha, a desk-reporter at an online news portal. She observed, “Surgical masks or other hard masks blur my goggles frequently. Soft cloth-masks are suitable with goggles and they also don’t make me sweat inside.”
Return to ‘old’ ways
People, however, have not entirely stopped buying formal dresses. With time, people have resumed purchasing more formal apparel. This has put forward a theory by fashion historians that with social restrictions reducing, the return to outdoor clothing will spark a renewed interest among even among the least fashion-forward people, not to mention others.
This is exactly what is being seen out in the streets nowadays with the restrictions slowly fading away. Even though on a relatively decreased scale, people have increased their expenditure, particularly online, on trendy clothes. Meanwhile, the ongoing winter wedding season has increased bridal shopping. The market is already capitalising on it.
Again, one only needs to scroll through Instagram shops to see the innumerable posts of comfy hoodies, sweat pants and bridal bundles. And now that the world looks set to return to normalcy riding on the back of vaccines, it remains to see if the post-pandemic fashion would resemble the old, pre-pandemic one.
MaishaFairooz Khan is a first-year undergraduate student at the Institute of Business Administration, the University of Dhaka.