why luxury sleepwear is a retail dream
Across the fashion spectrum, customers are veering towards the comfortable. Sales of trainers are soaring, soft lingerie is booming, activewear and athleisure are everyday staples, and consumers are demanding both form and function from their fashion choices. As the ultimate in comfort dropship clothing, sleepwear has been benefiting from the consumer quest for cosiness, as well as the wider trend of pyjama-style daywear separates.
Luxury sleepwear in particular has emerged as a sweet spot, as retailers and brands seek to tap into a trend that reflects the changing mindset of the modern shopper. A flurry of brands specialising in printed silk pyjamas – such as Violet & Wren, Olivia von Halle and Desmond & Dempsey – have been steadily gaining prominence and high-profile stockists. Simultaneously, luxurious loungewear from brands such as Hanro has also brought a new, stylish opulence to the concept of cosy.
Research agency Stylus says sales of luxury sweat pants rose 300% year on year in 2017, while high-end department store Harrods reveals cashmere joggers have been a bestseller for the past two years.
“Sleep and loungewear represent one of the biggest non-core product opportunities for fashion brands and retailers right now, with the most dynamic growth occurring at the affordable luxury level,” says Emily Gordon-Smith, director of consumer product at Stylus. “More time being spent at home and a desire for ultimate comfort, all day, every day are two key drivers behind this trend.”
Louise Barnard is creative director of Violet & Wren, which is stocked by Fenwick in the UK and Anthropologie in the US. It sells luxury printed women’s silk pyjamas, at retail prices from £105 for silk shorts to £425 for a long-line silk kimono.
She attributes the growing demand to a shift in social habits: “For people in their late twenties and early thirties, there seems to be less desire to spend money on drinking or going out. As a response to that, people are much happier to stay at home and spend more on luxury items to make it an event to stay in. With our products, a lot of it is around the luxury of staying in.”
“Staying in is the new going out,” agrees Gavazzi Daccò, co-founder of luxury pyjama brand Morpho & Luna, whose retail prices range from £108 for shorts to £1,691 for a handwoven robe. “Customers don’t want to compromise on quality for themselves. It is a self-indulgent and emotional purchase that makes you feel special and elegant.”
Linked to this is the continuing trend for pyjama-style separates being worn as daywear. Products are designed to be worn around the house and beyond, not just for sleeping.
“The lines of demarcation that once cut a neat divide between the different spheres of our life – the bedroom, the sitting room, the street, the shops, the office – are being eroded,” explains Daccò. “More and more people are wearing day clothes that can morph into night.”
Stephan Hohmann, CEO of Swiss lingerie brand Hanro, reports that it has recorded double digit-growth in nightwear over the past year, something he also attributes to the category’s changing functionality.
“When people get home, they want to get out of their work clothes and wear something more comfortable, but not actually a night gown,” he explains. “Today, sleepwear is pieces that you wear around the house when you want to feel nicely dressed. This has rewired the market, so there’s now a focus on ‘loungey’ looks in sleepwear.”
He highlights that the new trend for luxurious sleepwear began when the traditional sleepwear offer from retailers became stagnant: “If you look back even a decade in sleepwear, it was very much a world of ‘granny’ sleepwear. Buyers, especially in department stores, were inclined to stick to the same, boring formula. What happened was that the more modern and younger consumers were not attracted to the sleepwear department any more. The look had to change.”
“From a retail perspective in the UK, you can see how the trend for luxury sleepwear and loungewear is affecting stores as well as brands,” agrees Lucy Litwack, owner and CEO of lingerie brand and retailer Coco de Mer. “Selfridges launched a dedicated space in 2016 with a huge amount of nightwear and lingerie, and [the category] is taking up a great amount of floor space in a lot of stores.”
Litwack notes that nightwear sales have increased more than 50% for Coco de Mer between autumn 18 and spring 19 – both in direct sales via its store and ecommerce site, and in wholesale.
She cautions, however, that aspects of the market are becoming crowded: “It is getting to be quite a saturated market with silk pyjamas. There are so many brands coming out which are all pretty much offering the same type of product. They’re all beautiful and luxurious, so a lot of the time it ends up being the well-known names that are driving sales.”
One small luxury sleepwear brand, which is currently being forced to wind up operations, agreed.
The owner told Drapers that the sudden rush of similar brands flooding the market had made her sleepwear business unsustainable, thanks to stiff competition and demanding department store clients: “When I was doing my business plan at the very beginning, there were hardly any sleepwear companies, and so I thought I’d spotted a gap. It turns out that so did many others, and by the time I launched, it was a fairly crowded market place.”
The brands that thrive, however, say that the sudden swell of attention on the sector has opened the door to more experimentation from retailers.
“We’ve seen a lot more opportunity to try newness with retailers,” says Barnard. “We might be approached by a retailer who already has some quite well-known brands, saying they want to offer our products because they’re different.
“Having built that customer base with the well-established brands, there’s definitely opportunities out there for new brands – brands that offer something a little bit artisan or quirky – to get in there.”
As consumers hunt for unique purchases, the luxury end of the market is well positioned for continued growth. With purchases worn across multiple occasions – daywear, eveningwear, lounge and sleep – luxe pyjamas hold an easy appeal for consumers and retailers alike as a crossover item between fashion and lifestyle.
As Litwack explains: “It has almost become a lifestyle choice. It’s beautiful, luxurious and extravagant, but is also practical and useful for a busy life.”
why luxury sleepwear is a retail dream