Due to COVID, fashion has changed from more business to casual wear.
“The fact that we live in Erie, which by nature is a very casual culture, COVID has hit it a lot more than let say other metropolises- Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York, and LA most especially,” said Abbey Mollo, wedding consultant at Isaac Baker Men’s Wear, “But as we’ve moved out of quarantine and we’re getting into this new normal, we are seeing people still wanting to dress up. It’s almost countering ‘Okay, I’ve been in pajamas and sweatpants for months and months. I want to dress up. I want to live again. I want to actually wear nice clothes.”
Isaac Baker Men’s Wear has seen these changes in business wear. Dressing business professional may not be as common in the Erie area for much longer.
Men might opt for nice pants or chinos and a nice polo shirt instead of two-piece suit.
There has been one surprise item selling at a higher rate for men- shoes.
“We are selling a style of shoe from two different companies, that I laughingly call the reverse mullet. The top is very professional; it is Oxford, it is leather, lace-up in some fashion. And the bottom is a sole similar to what you would see on a tennis shoe,” said Mollo.
Women’s fashion has also changed from fancy dress to more casual. Consumption rates have changed, too.
“Definitely slower. It’s just going to be until we have events to go. Until we’re out and about and have things to do, I think people are going to be erring on the casual side of things. And not even that but just not the big fancy events, so the more casual sweater than a dress for a wedding,” said Allison Gorman, owner of E. Lane Boutique.
“The shopping now as opposed to before COVID, people are buying a little more comfortable work-from-home. People are still doing like if they have to get a wedding outfit or something like that, but we’re finding that people are being a little more conservative with their money right now probably because they’re not sure where the economy’s going,” said Stephanie Maleno, owner of Izzy & Gab.
By the time COVID hit, most boutique were focusing on the fall fashion season. Little did they know what was coming.
“I had already bought, purchased for fall. I had all my fall inventory bought and coming in. In March, April I had reached out to all my vendors and readjusted my inventory for obviously more casual- a lot more joggers, sweatshirts, casual sweaters,” said Gorman.
Over at Izzy & Gab, they’ve found that timeless pieces are selling.
“I think what I’m finding is people are still into the statement pieces but even more so than they’ve ever been to get longevity out of their outfits. So they’re looking for things that don’t go out of style six months from now. They want something that ‘Okay I can have this in my closet for five to ten years down the road,'” said Maleno.
Maleno says some of her designers are scaling back on extravagant trends, too.
“They’re saying they’re not doing as elevated of looks in designs the way they were. Things were a lot more decorative, a lot more fancy 2018, 2019. 2020, 2021 things are a little less elevated, they’re a little less fancy. They’re a little more house party comfortable. They’re still nice, they’re still trendy, they’re still adorable, they’re just a little more comfy sharp-casual as opposed to the over-the-top decorative for women’s contemporary that we usually see,” said Maleno.
For the fashion world, events and parties mean business. Boutique owners are looking forward to the days when we can all get out and celebrate life together again.
“And I hope that we’re at least back to normal, back to celebrating things and having these events we can dress up for, buy a new outfit for,” said Gorman.