Formalwear in Apparel Industry – Analysing Trends, Opportunities and Strategies for Success

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The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift in consumers’ fashion preferences towards more casual and versatile pieces, after widespread home working and event cancellations rendered formalwear relatively obsolete. Despite the easing of restrictions, this trend has continued due to more relaxed dress codes for offices and events, leading many formalwear specialists to struggle to maintain sales.

Since consumers are now increasingly opting for smart casual outfits for work and events, many players are reducing the amount of space they are dedicating to their most formal ranges in stores. However, they must now boost awareness of their formal ranges on their websites to avoid them losing out to competitors, while also investing in online features like personalization and AI, since the high importance of fit for these items means that many shoppers prefer to buy them in-store.

Reduced demand for formalwear has also forced specialist players to place greater investment in their marketing strategies, to allow them to rebuild their customer bases and boost their fashion credentials. Collaborations with influencers and celebrities have become a particularly popular way for brands to engage shoppers, as it allows them to interact with the personality’s own followers and fans.

The Formalwear in Apparel industry research report includes an analysis, brands, and trends associated with formalwear in the global apparel market and the COVID-19 impact.

Key Trends of Formalwear in the Apparel Market

Struggles of Formalwear Players: While many formalwear players had started to struggle prior to the pandemic due to the gradual casualization of dress codes for offices and events, the acceleration of this shift in style preferences during COVID-19, as result of home working and event cancellations, led many formalwear specialists to lose even more customers. As a result, many formalwear brands and retailers have been struggling to survive, with many either falling into administration, or being forced to close a large proportion of their store estates. Suit brands have generally been the most affected by the shift in consumer style preferences since the onset of the pandemic. To survive, formalwear companies must revamp their product lines to become more casual and versatile, while also improving their online propositions, as online penetration will remain heightened going forward.

Return to the Office: Though workplace dress codes are more casual than they were pre-pandemic, many consumers have still been looking to buy more smart-casual pieces to refresh their work wardrobes so that they still look professional. Consumers are favoring pieces that are versatile and more comfortable, for example, tailored trousers with elasticated waistbands or jersey blazers, often paired with trainers, making for an easier transition into hybrid working. Consumers’ shift towards adopting more smart-casual office dress codes has led traditional workwear brands to transition from offering smart suits to more comfortable yet sophisticated workwear. Similarly, premium retailers have adjusted their collections to offer more trendy and versatile workwear.

Reduced Reliance on Stores: As a result of the dampened demand for formalwear since the outbreak of the pandemic, many retailers have either closed stores or reduced the amount of space they are dedicating to these ranges, allowing them to remain relevant given the increased casualization. However, they must ensure that they boost awareness of their formal ranges on their websites so that they don’t lose out to competitors. As many consumers prefer buying formalwear in-store so that they can try items on to ensure they fit correctly, brands must ease the online shopping process through features like personalization and AI, to maintain customer loyalty.

Celebrity Collaborations: One way that brands are attempting to gain traction is through marketing campaigns and collaborations with influencers and celebrities, driving awareness and improving their fashion credentials. Suit specialist Moss Bros announced its first-ever collaboration in 2021 with TV personality Fred Sirieix, for an exclusive autumn/winter 2021 collection. The first collection consisted of several pieces designed to bridge the gap between formal and casual, as well as an edit of his favorite suits from the retailer. He has since partnered with the brand on three more edits, suggesting that the partnership has been successful in driving consumers to purchase its products.

Key Brands of Formalwear in the Apparel Market

The key brands of formalwear are Mango, Reiss, H&M Group, and Ted Baker. Spanish retailer Mango usually includes a variety of both casual and formal products. But, during the pandemic, it pivoted its collections to be more casual, enabling it to be more resilient than players that purely sell formalwear. Reiss was also resilient, largely due to its fast reaction towards offering more casual products in response to shoppers’ altered preferences. Reiss’ classic and high-quality pieces will have also made consumers more willing to invest in its products amid economic uncertainty, as opposed to purchasing from players that are more trend-led.

For more insights on how formalwear is impacting the apparel market, download a free report sample

Formalwear in the Apparel Market Report Overview

Key Trends Struggles of Formalwear Players, Return to the Office, Reduced Reliance on Stores, and Celebrity Collaborations
Key Brands Mango, Reiss, H&M Group, and Ted Baker


  • Rising casualization poses a threat to formalwear specialists
  • Reduced demand driving brands to remove formalwear from stores and instead focus on online
  • Brands are utilizing collaborations to drive awareness and desirability among consumers

Reasons to Buy

  • Gain a comprehensive view of the formalwear market and the impact of Covid-19 on it
  • Investigate current trends in formalwear categories

HandM Group
Ted Baker

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Key Trends

Struggles of Formalwear Players

Return to the Office

Reduced Reliance on Stores

Celebrity Collaborations

UK Consumer Survey Data

Brands in Focus



HandM Group

Ted Baker

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