Staycation and the Rise of Multifunctional Clothing
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a huge curveball at many consumer businesses, fashion and retail included, however, as quoted by Lailah Gifty Akita “adaptation is the key to survival”, a notion that couldn’t be more apt for today. 2020 gave rise to a new word ‘staycation’ – a vacation that takes place at or close to home as opposed to the sun drenched beaches abroad. Brands and retailers were quick to respond with ranges, products and marketing targeting this new staycation genre.
High street bands such as Marks & Spencer and George at Asda created staycation ranges that could be dressed or layered up in keeping with the unpredictable British climate. Meanwhile other brands such as Joules and Seasalt managed to gain an uptick in sales, despite unseasonably wet weather, thanks to having physical stores in well-visited resort and tourist locations across the UK.
Buyers and retailers have had to rethink high summer essentials such as flip-flops, bikinis, beach cover-ups and flimsy dresses and offer more in the way of waterproof outerwear, layering knits and garments that can multitask as well as have purchase appeal. While athleisure sales peaked during lockdown on-trend brands such as Lululemon have successfully combined activewear functionality with everyday staples that can be worn beyond the workout.
Kalita Al Swaidi, founder and designer of luxury sustainable beachwear brand Kalita, told Drapers  that: “Our customers want to invest in a dress that does everything.” It’s this multifunctional approach to clothing that has been catapulted by the pandemic and staycation genre in particular.
An example of this design adaptability can be found in the “The Versatility Collection” by Studio Eva x Carola . The collection explores the different roles that modern women play in their daily lives and offers an innovative range of garments that are multifunctional and yet incredibly comfortable at the same time. Advocates of sustainability the collection includes TENCEL™ Modal fibers to enhance silkiness, softness and long-lasting suppleness. The result is a capsule collection comprising of intimates, lifestyle wear and loungewear that can be worn in numerous ways.
The ‘shacket’ is another adaptable design that has grown in popularity over the past year. A cross between a shirt and a jacket, the shacket can be layered over outfits to provide extra warmth without the bulk of a jacket. From high street to high end there are shackets to suit every budget and sales have been strong in the UK throughout spring and summer.
Staycations have also been primarily responsible for accelerating growth in the outdoor clothing market. The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns saw a sharp increase in outdoor activity whether it was a gentle stroll in the countryside or to take up a new leisure activity. The global outdoor clothing market was valued at USD 11.7 billion in 2020 and will reach USD 14.2 billion by the end of 2027, growing at a CAGR of 3.2% during 2022-2027. 
This on-going trend for functional and adaptable style could be found all over the Autumn/Winter 21/22 catwalks, note the increase in specialist outerwear brands collaborating with fashion designers to marry technical performance fabrics with contemporary styling details. One such example is the Paris-based label Y/Project and their new collaboration with Canada Goose. The result is classic insulated outwear combined with asymmetric detailing and designer styling details with urban appeal.
Available online and in selected stores from the end of October is the UNIQLO x White Mountaineering collaborative collection. Talking about the collection White Mountaineering founder Yosuke Aizawa  said:
“Sports and the outdoors can be easily incorporated into your daily life, such as by going to a park or just taking a walk.The collection isn’t just about creating fashionable clothing; but also incorporating functionality for easy movement and details from outdoor garments, such as textures and heat retention technology. I wanted to put the technology and knowledge I had gained through creating outdoor wear into this collection with UNIQLO.”
Yosuke Aizawa’s vision sums up ‘staycation’ perfectly; functional, easy-to-wear styles that incorporate textile technologies such as breathability, temperature control and comfort. After a long duration of comfort dressing during lockdown designers and brands are now rethinking those essential core staples that can be worn throughout the day’s activities. Multitasking staycation style has arrived and is set to evolve in the months ahead.