Sales of Casual Trousers Fall As Workers Head Back to the Office

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The UK’s workers are returning to the office — and we can see it in the trousers they are buying.

According to Richmond-based menswear brand SPOKE, 18 per cent of the trousers they sell are now in one of their most casual cuts, unsuitable for the office — such as their Hackney, Fives, Nomads, and House trouser ranges. This compares to 32 per cent in March 2021, when Boris Johnson ordered the country back into lockdown and the UK switched to remote working.

Ben Farren, the founder of SPOKE, said: “We can see the UK’s switch back to the office in the mix of trousers we sell. This time last year, a quarter of the trousers we sold were in more casual cuts. That’s now down to less than a fifth. It’s a huge change from March 2021 when we were in the third lockdown and everyone who could was working remotely — at that stage almost a third of the trousers we sold were in casual cuts. People were making jokes, back in the summer of 2020, about how they were taking Zoom calls in their pants. I can tell you for a fact that they were! It got so bad that we had to introduce a new range of elasticated loungewear sweatpants just to survive.”

SPOKE says their smartest trousers — those in their more formal cuts and in their most formal colours — represented only 27 per cent of sales in March 2021. This rose to 36 per cent in March 2022 and now represents 43 per cent of sales.

Ben Farren said: “I’m glad to say the picture is a little different now and that our smartest trousers, in terms of cut and colour, are back at the heart of the range. Not only does our smartest Sharps range make up more than a third of our trouser sales now — up from only a quarter three years ago — the total volume of trousers we’re selling is increasing, too. I am convinced that demand is driven by the UK’s return to the workplace.”

The data from SPOKE chimes with research from recruiter Randstad UK which found employers are toughening up remote working rules. Three in every five workers in the UK say that, in the past few months of the year, their employer had become less flexible when it comes to remote working. In a survey of 2,000 workers across the UK, 60 per cent said “In the past few months, my employer has become stricter about making sure staff come into the office.”

Ben Farren said: “We’ve all read about organisations missing the collaboration, innovation, and sense of community that shared workplaces can provide and employers trying to get people back into the office. The civil service aside, employers are getting staff back into the workplace — and we see it in our orders.”

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