Suit-like Products Dress Up Teleworking

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A set of stretchy pants and jacket at the Yofuku-no-Aoyama Namba store in Chuo Ward, Osaka

OSAKA — Although working from home, many people still want to look professional on a webcam at meetings. Here to help is a lineup of business suits released in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that include suit-like products so light and stretchy, they are comfortable to wear during meetings from home.

Since last April, a 37-year-old Osaka man working at a leading machinery manufacturer has been teleworking three to four days a week and wears a jacket and pants made of highly elastic jersey material.

“I have video conferences with my clients and need to dress properly, but suits get wrinkled and are too tight to wear at home,” he said.

A survey conducted last autumn by the research firm Persol Research and Consulting Co. showed 24.7% of full-time employees across Japan were working from home, on average. With no end in sight for the pandemic, many companies have made teleworking their official practice.

Leading suit makers discovered a business opportunity in this trend. In December, Aoki Inc. released its Pajama Suit made mainly from polyester fabric. The pants have an elastic waistband to marry the comfort of pajamas while maintaining a professional look. The top and bottom are ¥4,990 each (tax excluded).

Aoyama Trading Co. began selling its Suwari Shigoto Senyo Pants for ¥5,900 (tax excluded) in October. The maker focused on the fact teleworkers sit a lot and so enhanced the clothes’ ability to stretch by using a three-dimensional sewing technique.

Haruyama Trading Co. is selling lightweight businesswear weighing less than 400 grams for a top and bottom. The jacket sells for ¥15,900 and the pants for ¥6,900 (tax excluded).

Fashion trends of so-called Cool Biz and the casualization of professional attire have led businessmen to shift away from suits, which has hurt the men’s clothing industry. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry’s survey on family budgets in 2019 shows a household’s spending on men’s suits was ¥4,716 on average, less than half the amount spent in 2000 at ¥12,356.

“We want to keep our customers with these telework-oriented options,” said a leading maker’s manager.