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The jeans are just not fitting in a COVID-19 lockdown world

People are pairing shorts, yoga pants or track pants with more professional looking tops for video calls.

July 31, 2020 / 10:20 PM IST

Fashion changes every season but denim jeans for the last several decades have remained a thing in the world of fashion. However, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way people dress, and it seems denim jeans are no longer a fashion statement.

Jeans pants, which are made from denim or dungaree cloth, was the go-to fabric for both men and women, for all seasons and occasions.

It has been the ultimate comfort in casual wear; but the coronavirus pandemic has changed all that.

Most white-collared people are logging in and working from their homes since the lockdown that began on March 22.

Youngsters who would have reached out to their favourite pair of jeans earlier are now looking at other more comfort-oriented options.


People are pairing shorts, yoga pants or track pants with more professional looking tops for video calls.

In fact, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have accelerated a trend that has been taking shape for the last several years.

“With work from home being the new normal, there is a demand for semi-casuals, which include casual T-shirts, shorts and shirts,” Sanjay Vakharia, Chief Executive Officer, Spykar Lifestyle, told Moneycontrol.

What are numbers indicating?

Vakharia said sales across the apparel industry have been hit in the April-June quarter of FY21 as lockdown has not been fully lifted in several states.

He, however, refrained from sharing any specific category numbers on denims or casual wear on the online or offline sales but said sales were largely driven by casuals such as T-shirts and shorts, in particular.

“In terms of sales, we are currently at 35-40 percent basis the same period last year (July 2020 vs July 2019),” Vakharia noted.

Moneycontrol also spoke to J. Suresh, MD and CEO, Arvind Fashions Ltd (AFL), which is home to over 27 distinguished brands such as Aeropostale, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Flying Machine, GAP, among others to know what trend it is witnessing.

Suresh indicated that denim which was the go-to fabric has been shunned by customers.

“Online sales of denim have been pretty low,” he said. Flying Machine is a well-known denim brand of Arvind Fashions.

“Overall, we are at 20 percent of our normal sales. Among categories, denim sales have not picked up after Unlock 1.0 and 2.0 but our comfort wear is doing extremely well. We have seen 2x, 3x growth in our comfort wear,” Suresh said.

For Arvind Fashions, T-shirts sales are almost back at pre-COVID levels, followed by loungewear and joggers with brands such as US Polo and Tommy Hilfiger benefitting.

AFL reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 208.12 crore for the quarter ended March 2020, impacted by COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent disruptions in the market. The company is yet to announce its earnings for numbers.

Global trend

The denim industry has taken a hit not only in India but globally too.

In the United States, companies such as True Religion and G-Star Raw have filed for bankruptcy in April.

Levi’s posted a 62 percent drop in its global revenue and said it will slash about 50 percent of its workforce.

In 2019, Americans spent a whopping $17 billion on jeans, but this year apparel sales are down by almost 40 percent and it is predominantly jeans which seem to have fallen out of fashion.

What next?

According to a report by Ambit Capital, COVID-19 drives multiple uncertainties for the richly valued, high-fixed-cost, metro-centric retail sector.

Brand experts and apparel honchos too concur with this thought. They believe that until the vaccine is launched, most corporates will ask employees to work from home, hitting sales of formal shirts and denims.

The impact on various discretionary categories may not be very different as limited social interactions and increased WFH trends may hit apparel players.

Industry envisages the popularity of casual wear or comfort wear to continue for the coming months as well.
Himadri Buch
first published: Jul 31, 2020 08:54 pm
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