Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch Thrive on Elevated Comfort Trend

The fashion landscape has experienced an interesting transformation, breaking free from its association with discomfort and (as grim as this sounds) sacrifice.  

The comfort trend initially gained traction during the pandemic as people sought solace and ease while spending more time at home. Sweatpants, loungewear and cozy separates became the go-to choices to strike a balance between comfort and style. However, as people returned to work and in-person events, the comfort trend has evolved and expanded into all types of everyday wear. 

What started as a necessity during lockdowns has become a fashion staple. People still desire the comfort they experienced during the pandemic but now seek a more polished and presentable look. 

The fashion industry has responded by offering a range of clothing options that merge comfort with style. Traditional work attire has transformed, with the incorporation of stretch fabrics, relaxed tailoring, and comfortable footwear. Suits and dresses are designed to provide ease of movement to navigate professional environments with confidence and comfort. 

Casual wear has also transformed. Athleisure, popular during the pandemic, continues to thrive as individuals seek clothing that transitions from work to leisure. 

Take Lululemon, known for its range of leggings and other fashionable athleisure wear, is now known for its comfy workwear, specifically men’s workwear, according to the Men’s Journal

“Working at an office or at home doesn’t mean one set of clothing has to be more comfortable than the other. You can find plenty of outlets selling great work clothing that’ll look great and feel even better. But in our minds, the Comfiest Men’s Workwear can be found over at Lululemon right now,” said Tom Lorenzo for Men’s Journal. 

Solidifying that sentiment is the brand’s quarterly earnings. Following the closing of the market on June 1, shares of Lululemon surged, driven by better-than-expected quarterly results that showcased robust sales growth in China and other regions. 

During the first quarter of 2023, the athleisure retailer reported net revenue reaching $2 billion, a 24% rise compared to the same period in 2022. The company’s international performance stood out, with sales soaring by 60% year over year (YoY) outside of North America.  

Lululemon emphasized China sales. “Our results reflect the strength of our guest relationships, our innovative products and how our brand resonates across the globe,” CEO Calvin McDonald said in a statement. 

Lululemon shares rose 13% in after-hours trading. 

Lululemon remains optimistic about customer spending on its range of leggings, yoga mats, and athletic wear throughout the year, even in the face of persistent inflationary pressures. The retailer has increased its net revenue projections for 2023 to a range of $9.4 billion to $9.5 billion, a 17% growth in sales. 

Other Retailers Thrive in Comfort Trend

However, Lululemon was not the sole apparel company to experience a robust quarter. Abercrombie & Fitch also achieved noteworthy results, reporting a net income of $16.57 million in the last quarter, a significant improvement from the $16.46 million loss recorded in the same period the previous year. As a result, the company’s stock surged by 30% during the previous week. 

The brand’s range of offerings, spanning from denim to dresses, has resonated strongly with millennials and older demographics, and Abercrombie’s success can be attributed to the brand’s adaptability in meeting consumer demands for softer fabrics, relaxed silhouettes, and adjustable waistbands, prioritizing comfort without sacrificing style. 

See also: Abercrombie Transforms Controversy Into Profits  

Lululemon’s and Abercrombie & Fitch’s strong results stand in contrast to other discretionary retailers facing a decline in consumer spending. Numerous major retailers have issued warnings regarding potential challenges, pointing to decreased bank account balances and increased debt among American consumers.