First there were smart “use once” tops worn only for virtual work meetings and whipped off thereafter – otherwise known as the “Zoom shirt”. Now, courtesy of two Japanese companies, comes the latest hybrid of the suit and loungewear: the WFH pyjama suit.
Working from home has rubbished the idea of formal dress codes. As sales of suits have suffered (online searches are down 34%) and consumers pivot to Crocs and tracksuit bottoms (searches for “sweatpants” are up by 108%, according to digitaloft.co.uk), workers and companies have tried to adapt to our changing work/life balance with awkward results.
Aoki, a men’s suit retailer which reported a sales decline of 11.4bn Yen (£76.8m) last year, has pivoted to the “pyjama suit”. The three-piece item (top, trousers and jacket) is made of the same fabric as pyjamas but looks like a suit jacket from the cut to the buttons on the sleeves. The ensemble sells for 14,354 Yen, is available in a muted colour palette for both men and women.
Meanwhile, Whatever Inc has brought out the WFH Jammies described as: “business on the top, loungewear on the bottom”. The designer Taichi Ito came up with the idea when his wife was on a Zoom call. “One day my wife changed into casual office clothes to attend a video meeting,” he says. “I thought, ‘that’s not a good way to enjoy her time working from home’ and thought it would be a good idea to have loungewear that was formal only for the part of the body shown on the video screen.” A prototype was designed by Ito with adjustments made by Akihiko Kimura, creative director from the womenswear brand Lokitho.
Available for 9,900 Yen, the top half of the garment (the part visible to your colleagues on a screen) resembles a crisp, collared white shirt. The bottom half fades into a muted blue colour and resembles a sweatshirt. “Originally part of the shirt could have been a little lower,” says Ito, “but we prioritised the visual impact of the clothing and made sure it was high enough to just barely show up on the [computer] screen.”
He says the jammies shouldn’t be taken entirely seriously (“the humour of the shirt’s pockets being cut off in the middle is another point of the design”), but it has already been a breakout success, with consumers placing orders in the US, Canada, Spain and Indonesia. Ito believes it’s just the start of similar products being made for home workers.
Ito says: “I think that remote work itself will become more new normal, so designs like the WFH jammies, that are suited to this new lifestyle, will continue to be created.
“Formal fashion has become less of a priority than before Covid-19,” thinks Ito, adding: “I can’t imagine what will happen after the coronavirus has passed, but I believe that society will be transformed in such a way we can make new choices.”