Stretch pants are the new…pants

The (ahem) expansive popularity of athleisure drives lower return rates

The growth of the athleisure segment is undeniable—Levi Strauss buying Beyond Yoga, Allbirds launching an activewear line, Wolverine Worldwide acquiring Sweaty Betty—all led by the pandemic’s homebound consumers looking for comfortable clothes, lockdown-induced growth in waistlines, and a renewed interest in healthy living.

This trend fueling activewear has in turn cut back on sensitivity about size and fit. In a recent post—Spandex killed the bracketing star—we found that 10% fewer consumers said they were bracketing compared to 2019. Now, as the approaching end of Summer sparks the thought of layers once again, we decide to ask consumers where they stand on size and fit and the propensity to return with abandon.

Size and fit
  • Half of consumers (49%) say that stretch clothing is now more acceptable to wear in public:
    • That includes 56% of Millennials.
    • Interestingly, those living on the East Coast (53% in the Northeast and 52% in the South) are more likely to say stretch clothing is more acceptable to wear out in public than West Coasters (41%) and Midwesterners (47%).
  • More than a third of consumers (35%) say they don’t plan to buy tight-fitting clothing as much in the future.
  • A third of consumers (33%) say looser or stretchier clothing is more acceptable to wear to the office (whenever that happens).
    • Nearly half of parents (43%) say their clothes now fit tighter than before the pandemic (compared to only 28% of non-parents). Ouch.
    • 46% of Millennials and 42% of GenZers say they’re buying new clothes because they’re getting out of the house more often (compared to 33% of adults overall).
    • Also on the move are urban consumers (42%)—because suburbanites (31%) have yards to keep them busy, thank you very much.
  • More than a third (34%) agree that buying stretchy or looser clothing results in fewer returns.
    • Again, Millennials (40%) and parents (45%) feel more strongly than others.

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture, and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2000+ consumers surveyed July - August 2021.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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