With the government possibly announcing the end of working from home and hybrid working options being discussed, the British fashion designer Giles Deacon has created a capsule collection for those whose workspace is now undefined.
Using data collected by the workspace company IWG on what people want to wear during their return to work, Deacon set about creating the wonky WFA (work from anywhere) outfits. Although searches for suits have increased 49% between April and May, according to Digital Loft, IWG found that generation Z workers also want to express their individuality through their clothes. “In a working environment people want to have a sense of personality,” Deacon said. “The traditional monochrome office suit is over.”
And yet generation Z still realises its value: 73% of 16- to 24-year-olds polled said they believed that what you wear is linked to the seniority of your position.
After certain lockdown restrictions had been lifted the designer visited various IWG workspaces to research what people were wearing. Although sales of loungewear had increased massively, Deacon is relieved to see that workers were keen to ditch their work-from-home tracksuits for something smarter. “I was pleased to hear that people didn’t want to wear shellsuits for ever, thank God,” he said.
Deacon said he had observed workers in slightly looser-cut clothing still looking smart but more relaxed. “I think that’s what the vast majority of people will look like.”
The 51-year-old designer, who worked at Gucci and Bottega Veneta before forming his own label Giles, said the pandemic had accelerated lots of change, including how our way of living interacts with how we dress. “The hybrid work situation is one that many of us are involved with,” he said. “More people are working from home, going to an office, then going to a meeting. Workers and employers have been forced into thinking about the best environment for how people work now.”
Google announced a “flexible workweek” starting from September, with employees in the office three days a week and working from home for two days. Microsoft, Facebook and other companies are giving employees the option to work from home permanently.
During the 18 months since Covid-19 first hit, individuals and companies have toyed with their changing workwear wardrobe, from work meeting-only “Zoom shirts” to the Japanese companies offering pyjama suit outfits tailor-made for a video conference call, but no one has created a bespoke capsule collection quite like this one.
Featuring short suits, loose dresses and trousers, the focus of the WFA collection for Deacon is on comfort and situational adaptability. “Take the bubble dress. You sit down at your desk for a meeting at the computer and you’ve got the gorgeous grosgrain bow, beautiful poplin detailing around the neck and, in two sizes, it fits all.”
For the men’s jersey suit it was important that it was light and yet still classy. “From a constructional point of view, it had a sense of modernity and great structure with a tailored pleat, but it was definitely not a tracksuit bottom,” he said.