Pent Up Demand Fuels Remote Workers’ Desire to Dress Down, Spend More When They Return to the Office, New Survey from Kontoor Brands

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Pent Up Demand Fuels Remote Workers’ Desire to Dress Down, Spend More When They Return to the Office, New Survey from Kontoor Brands, Parent Company of Lee® and Wrangler® Finds

  • 84% of office workers plan to revamp their wardrobe this year, spending an average of $445.
  • New denim will be in demand with more than 8 in 10 (82%) planning to buy jeans in the next 12 months.
  • Nearly a third (31%) give jeans a thumbs up for formal events, such as weddings.

As more remote office workers say they’re ready to return to the office, the time away appears to  have rewritten their definition of “business casual,” according to a just-released study from Kontoor Brands, the parent company of Wrangler® and Lee®. While safety protocols mean the office itself may look different, there’s an expectation that office workers, specifically their clothing, will too.

Of the 1,006 adults surveyed, 85% expect their office will have a business-casual dress code, but the definition of “business casual” appears to be evolving. Respondents were asked how their return-to-work wardrobe will compare to their pre-pandemic office attire, which found:

-Fewer people (36%) plan to wear dress pants or dress skirts when they return to the office, a decrease of 7 points.

-Nearly 4 in 10 workers (39%) expect to wear jeans to the office, an increase of 7 points.

-Sweatpants and jogging pants will be more prevalent, with 15% of office workers expecting to wear them to the office, an increase of 7 points.

“With the trends and expectations we’re seeing, employers should consider rewriting the ‘business-casual’ definition,” said Scott Baxter, President and CEO, Kontoor Brands. “What the survey findings suggest is employees prefer their clothing to provide a seamless transition between their evolving professional and personal roles.” The overwhelming majority of office workers (84%) said a wardrobe refresh is in order. On average, these consumers plan to spend $445 on new clothes. And more than 8 in 10 (82%) indicated they’ll buy new jeans in the next 12 months, many of whom plan to wear jeans more frequently when they return to the office. As for the reasons behind the denim demand, respondents said their current jeans were old or worn-out (45%), no longer fit (32%) or felt buying new jeans would brighten their mood (34%).

“Our clothing is an extension of us, and during this time of uncertainty, people are buying and wearing clothes that make them feel more comfortable,” added Baxter. “Our Lee and Wrangler design teams believe office attire should be comfortable, relaxed and stylish. While office workers may have sacrificed comfort in the past, they now want to check all the boxes when selecting their return-to-office wardrobe.”

Furthermore, the survey found office workers expect their clothes to provide for an easy transition from the office to events. For example, consumers indicated they’re likely to wear jeans for a night out with friends (73%), a concert or live performance (70%) or date night (63%). And a surprising number said they plan to wear jeans to more formal events, such as weddings (31%).

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