First it was the onesie, then novelty knitwear reigned supreme during the festive season. Now the Christmas suit, the sartorial equivalent of wrapping paper, arrives in stores in time for the festive season.
The brash suits come with reindeers, sleighs and snowmen printed on the technicolour shades of green and red traditionally favoured by elves. John Lewis has already sold out of a bright red women’s suit emblazoned with Santa’s sleigh and giant snowflakes.
Celebrities including the chef Jamie Oliver, the former cricket Freddie Flintoff and former One Direction member Niall Horan have blazed the trail, but the trend is moving into the mainstream after the suits, made by Dutch clothing brand OppoSuits, were picked up by major high street names including Next, Asos and Topman.
OppoSuits co-founder Jelle van der Zwet said it created women’s and children’s versions because couples wanted to up the ante over the festive season by “twinning” their looks or kit out the entire family in matching outfits.
Van der Zwet said: “The Christmas jumper has been around for seven or eight years so it makes sense that there is a new product. The suits appeal to the [social media] super-sharing culture … everyone is looking for something new so they can stand out from the crowd.”
The popularity of Facebook and Instagram has created demand for novelty gear with retailers increasingly selling props – another example is the trend for kitsch pool inflatables – to help Britons compose the ultimate social media shot. The supermarket chain Asda, for example, has created matching pyjamas for the entire extended family to wear on Christmas Eve, with the “Dad elf” set already sold out in extra large.
Van der Zwet said wearing one of his company’s suits drew a huge amount of attention but added that going down the matching outfit route resulted in an even bigger wow factor: “It makes people more confident if they wear them together and it’s a much bigger statement.”
At the start of the decade it was the onesie which was in demand as celebrities ranging from the actor Brad Pitt to the boy band One Direction OKed the adult romper-suit trend.
Despite entire sections devoted to Christmas jumpers in charity shops around the country, John Lewis said there had been no let up in demand for novelty fashion pieces. The department store said it expected a run on Christmas suits when the office party season gets under way in earnest.
OppoSuits expects sales to double this year, shifting up to 750,000 as the trend gathers momentum both here and across the Atlantic.
Dan Cooper, Christmas buyer at John Lewis, said: “The Christmas jumper trend has been rising steadily over the last few years. But while most of us will have a novelty jumper stashed in a cupboard, the Christmas suit is really taking it to the next level. I think it appeals to customers who have embraced the Christmas jumper but are a bit braver and looking for something that really makes a statement.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
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