Hybrid office return sparks casual comfy boom

People are dressing differently for work.

Welcome to hybrid fashion: smart enough for the office, relaxed enough for kitchen table teleconferences and most importantly - comfortable.

18 months working from home in loungewear has transformed style sense and shopping habits.

Comfort’s in, ties, high heels and fitted clothes are out.

Professionals all over Europe are looking for fresh wardrobes as they partially head back to the office.

And it’s a boon for hard-hit retailers.

Spanish fashionista Blanca Lorca once swore by heels and fitted clothes for work.

Now – with three days in the office and two from her Madrid flat, she wear neutral tones and slack fits.

Even in her spare time she says her shopping habits have changed.

[MARKETER AND HYBRID FASHION CUSTOMER, BLANCA LORCA, SAYING:]

"I look for clothes that I know that I can put them on with more than one specific outfit. One that can be combined with different things and provide me with different looks. This is my priority now."

And it's not just women. Men also crave comfort.

Lucia Danero, a shopping adviser at El Corte Ingles in Madrid, has noticed a stream of customers looking for a refresh: but the men never ask to try on ties anymore.

[EL CORTE INGLES PERSONAL SHOPPER, LUCIA DANERO, SAYING:]

"The way men dress has adapted and they are adding new clothes that were unthinkable until now. For example we would never find sweatshirts in a classic office style. However nowadays something like this could be worn to go to the office."

The trend is global and big brands are paying attention.

Zara, Mango and H&M are highlighting "smart casual" trousers, shirts and dresses on their websites, alongside the lounge- and sportswear which lockdowns made ubiquitous.

Many of the leading fashion brands have launched new collections for this unique back-to-work season.

Backstage at Madrid fashion week, designers bet on new beginnings –

which seemed to include bright, non-restrictive dresses and colorful jumpers.

Spanish designer Maite Casademunt, whose "Comfy Wild" collection was dominated by dresses,

smart loungewear and sports shoes, said heels have been left aside for specific moments.

[SPANISH FASHION DESIGNER, MAITE CASADEMUNT, SAYING:]"I think we need to be happy and sure of ourselves with what we wear. We're also seeing more sport shoes and comfortable shoes and we have thousands of options and people are very fashionable. I think everything is very easy to wear."

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