Aug 31, 2021
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Women embrace office return and statement workwear - Karen Millen study

Aug 31, 2021

With many people continuing to work from home some or all of the time, the debate still rages about whether business life will ever get back to normal. If it doesn’t, this will clearly impact the fashion sector.

Karen Millen

But a new study from Karen Millen suggests that the demise of smart office-wear is some way off.

The company said that in the past seven days, searches for "Work Clothes for Women" have risen 941% compared to this time last year. And it added that this is “indicative of recent pushes by businesses for staff members to move away from working from home in what is deemed a mass return to the workplace”.

The company isn’t expecting a full return to office life, but a new survey it has conducted has shown that 80% of women in the UK are keen to see a return to the office at least some of the time “and two-thirds are planning to make a statement with their workwear when they do”.

Smart office clothing sales plummeted last year as workers operating at home switched to comfy loungewear. And Zoom calls meant that the bottom half — skirts, trousers and shoes — went unseen by colleagues and therefore slipped down the priority purchase list.

Today the situation has changed, however. The brand surveyed its Instagram and Facebook followers to discover “how women feel about returning to work and how their work wardrobe is revolutionising during this unprecedented time”.

As well as the 80% who expect to return to the office, 50% are “excited to be going back”, although many still prefer to work from home (two-thirds).

The brand also said that on average, online interest in workwear in 2021 has increased 25% since the end of 2020. Along with that 941% rise in general workwear searches in recent days, it said “Work Blouses” searches are up 560% and “Work Dresses” are up 214% year-on-year.

Karen Millen said consumers seem focused on “finding statement pieces that douse us in confidence for stepping into that first in-person meeting. Two-thirds of our poll respondents told us they opt for key statement pieces for work”.

Pieces they seem to be attracted by include quilted leather jackets, smart belts, and tailored double-breasted jackets. But the dress comes out on top in a wide range of colours.

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