Leaving the confines of the hours between the after-work and the morning alarm, sleepwear has come a long way to become one of the fastest growing segments since 2018. The sleepwear/loungewear wave struck the consumer groups as athleisure and streetwear came ashore to normality, being a complete package of comfortable silhouettes, luxe materials and edgy fashion.
Analysis by Technavio forecasts the global sleepwear and loungewear market to grow at a CAGR close to 9 per cent by 2023 and several industry experts are swearing by the segment due to the ripe opportunities it holds for all market players right from luxury to mass retail. “Sleep and loungewear represent one of the biggest non-core product opportunities for fashion brands and retailers right now, with the most dynamic growth occurring at the affordable luxury level,” says Emily Gordon-Smith, Director of Consumer Product at Stylus, a research agency for the industry. “More time being spent at home and a desire for ultimate comfort, all day, every day are two key drivers behind this trend.”
As the pants translated to sweats, a further step forward brought forth silk pyjamas, an inevitable progression that reflected luxurious nonchalance instead of careless disregard. The luxury market was quick to pick up the transition, as Dolce & Gabbana put forward its ‘pajarmy’, followed by Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Fendi – with modified Peter Pan collars and luxe fabrics. This also led to several affordable luxury brands to explore this category cleverly as brands such as Desmond & Dempsey, Sleepy Jones and Pour Les Femmes made big bucks in the segment. The numbers are emblematic of the same as research agency Stylus says sales of luxury sweat pants rose 300 per cent year-on-year in 2017, while high-end department store Harrods revealed cashmere joggers in sleepwear being the bestseller for the past two years.
The segment is also diversifying keeping utility in mind, giving rise to categories such as bridal sleepwear, right from bachelorettes, his and her collections to lingerie-based sleepwear; travel sleepwear spanning soft fabric joggers and sweatshirts coupled with eye masks and scarves and featuring advanced technology, restorative sleepwear – think Under Armour’s athlete recovery sleepwear range that uses bioceramic print to regulate temperature.
Yet, the trends for the sleepwear category run a little slower than their counterpart categories such as corporatewear and streetwear, as mainstream retailers such as H&M and ASOS carry about 10 per cent and 13 per cent sleepwear items respectively, making it clear that the popularity of the segment still has a long way to go. Yet the blurring lines between loungewear and nightwear, coupled with the sudden push by an increased number of celebrities adorning sleepwear items are helping consumer groups mix and match ensembles that go from the bed to the streets. Best instances arise from pairings such as tropical print silk-shirts, high-waist pants and frill-trimmed white cotton night dresses street-styled with sneakers, as per Edited.com.
During our research of the sleepwear market in India, Mumbai emerged as the biggest hub for the category as several trend-led brands and retailers, addressing all tiers of the market, are thriving in Maharashtra. We talked to several manufacturers and retailers from the domestic market dealing in this category to identify the major driving forces for the category to come up with trends that will dictate the sleepwear market for the upcoming season.
Transitional sleepwear is where the sleepwear stakeholders are placing their bets, and luster translates chic for nightwear in and out of the house effectively. Silk and satin are proving to be the most popular choice of material to join the glossy trend, owing to their soft tactile properties and luxurious aesthetics.
Silk’s easy drapeability allows it to be a good fabric option for tie-up robes, midi-dresses and sleepwear sets. Yet, in tropical countries like India, retailers are opting for alternate silk blends with cotton and linen in order to maintain the breathability factor of the pieces. On the other hand, satin swept aside the velour rage the bygone seasons witnessed. Nightwear silhouettes are now inclining towards the boxy, leggy fit and satin blends are replacing velvet, as the latter tends to stick to the body of the wearer.
Monica Jain, Founder of the Mumbai-based quirky nightwear brand Velveteen, talks about how these fabrics are the top choices for the consumers. She asserts, “Customers are very particular while selecting materials that will construct their nightwear. Someone who wants his/her skin to feel easy with no irritation will prefer cotton. Nowadays, nightwear is worn even outside the house, so the fabric choice is also changing. People who want elegant drape will go for fabrics like lucent satin. Cotton satin has matte yet luxurious finish and is a coolant as well, thus preferred by majority. Other fabrics in trend are rayon, velvet, silk, jersey, knit, etc.”
Detailing at its Peak
To keep up with the buyers’ demand for ostentatious nightwear, several brands and manufacturers are paying keen attention to value addition and design details, whether in fabric, prints or most commonly, overall pattern of the silhouette. Fabric manipulation such as gathers, knots and draped bows are the top runners of the lot.
As per Akriti Kochar, Director of Perch, a brand that champions in maintaining the design and comfort balance, the classic suit style pyjamas have seen a very welcome transition towards more fashion-forward and feminine styles. To put it in her own words, “People are not really willing to give up on comfort to look fashionable. Thus, nightwear and athleisure loungewear are taking center stage. The classic suit style pyjamas now have many additions – pleated sleeves, peplum tops, fringed robes, tapered shirts, lightweight cotton, eccentric tapes, bold motifs. A night suit is an item of night time luxury; what’s more important than sleep?”
Siddharth Vithlani, Founder of Rajkot-based Tirupati Nightwear also shares similar opinion, as he explaines how smaller design and pattern details are now in demand as per various consumer groups, on the basis of age, gender and purpose. According to him,“We at Tirupati cater to categories of menswear, womenswear and kidswear essentials. The silhouettes are now branching out and moving away from conventional traits. We provide styles right from classic suit top and bottom sets to the newly trending ones such as dungarees, jumpsuits and T-shirts with cold shoulder sleeves. These tend to evolve with time, as our male customers demand pockets with zippers while our female customers who are expecting, demand suits that have button up closures.”
To this, Heenal Jain, Co-founder of Velveteen Nightwear adds, “Introducing collar neck in tops and night dress enhances the entire look of the night apparel and is the trendiest. Fancy embellishments like pearl buttons, ruffles, laces, drawstring, appliqué, fur are used to give a more feminine look.”
On the Silhouettes’ Front
Nightwear silhouettes are leaving their conventional ‘ugly comfort’ form and function to adopt shapes and cuts that are more fashionable. Classic suit sets have remained a constant in the segment, but the trend of lustrous coordinated sets – either in solids or a shock of prints in deep tones, with the top sporting contrast piping collars, are very common. Another trend that is peeping through various kinds of sleepwear styles are wrap-arounds and tie-up belts. Overlapping shawl collars placed on the necklines of suit sets right from shirt and shorts to shirt and pants, along with wrap tie-up kimonos, night robes, outerwear sets etc., are the buyer’s choice for the next season.
Kolkata-based nightwear brand clts (an acronym for Cute Little Things), works on Indian body shapes and provides sizes that range from XS to XL. Mitesh Baheti, Business Developer of clts avers,“The front open nightsuits continue to be the favourites among the buyers across. Oversize tees (boyfriend shirts and tees) might see some great demands as well. We also identify long shirts (sleepshirt) as an upcoming trend that has not yet caught up and has tremendous potential. Variation in front open nightsuits has tremendous scope and market and we want to be the first one to offer products that are fresh, new and work for all generations.”
Hues & Prints
With the inclusion of print-friendly fabrics such as satin, silk and linen blends, all-over prints with large motifs are determined for the print and pattern choices for Fall/Winter 2019. Moving away from stripes and nautical motifs, bold florals, scarf prints and animal patterns are the top choices. Domestic players such as Kritika Jain, Founder of Velveteen swear by casual, vacation-inspired prints like that of flamingos, unicorn, nutella jars and characters, with a strong inclination towards oriental florals and chain prints.
On the colour front, brighter motifs are on the memo, as Akriti states, “It’s the era of classics – nudes, neons and everything subtle and classic is fashion. A wide range from pink to blushes to beiges and with that a stark contrast of neons are making a comeback as well with Perch’s next collection.” Adding to these will be cooler shades, as Mitesh suggests, “I think the main colours for the approaching season would be colours with a pinch of coolness in them. Like there would be a shift from Red to Coral, Green to Lava Green/Teal Green. These colours bring coolness, which breaks away from the old standing colours. In addition, these colours add a youthful touch as well.”
E-commerce champion Clovia, already known for its vibrant aesthetics, recently joined the bricks-and-mortar game and has made successful strides in the segment. Suman Chowdhury, Co-founder of Clovia, further sheds light on the same, “The prints we do are according to themes and floral motifs; vintage, summer chill, travel are few of the collections we have been working on. These prints and stories attract the consumers and buyers, while being extremely wearer-friendly. The category entails maximum comfort, thus, we use fabrics that are good to skin and are breathable such as cotton and cotton blends, modal, viscose spandex, satin and premium stretchable laces.
Combos for All
Pairing nightwear with different street and outerwear essentials is definitely a micro-trend for the season ahead, which is pushing the key mass retailers such as Zivame, Clovia and PrettySecrets to include combination featuring 4, 5 and 6-piece sets. Neha Kant, Co-founder of Clovia says, “Our sleepwear range is very thought-out and customer-led, as we take into account what the wearer is looking for. We think of a girl who lives in a joint family, unmarried girl who lives in a dorm or with her parents or in a joint family and all of them have different sleepwear requirements. Thus, we go for combination sets to cater to them all. We started with a single solution 11-piece combo, that has individual garments from conservative pieces such as long nighty, long robe, top, full length pyjama to more progressive elements such as short nighty and a matching string bra brief set that can be worn, or paired with each other for different situations.”
Thus, sleepwear as a segment is bound to make big bucks and has opened avenues for technological advancement as apparels can actually be used for therapeutic purposes by improving sleep. Furthermore, mixing and matching is the trend that never changes as we might see sleep attire being transformed to formal and occasionwear as well, and this is what the nightwear segment is taking advantage of – bridging the gap between bed and streets to enable an easy life for the wearers.