November 29, 2021

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

The unexpected winners of lockdown shopping

A reimagined vintage Cartier tank watch by Le Californienne -
A reimagined vintage Cartier tank watch by Le Californienne –

It will surprise no one that sales of luxe silk pyjamas skyrocketed during lockdown (Olivia von Halle’s Lila and Coco PJ sets zoomed up 380 percent in April alone). But when faced with the prospect of unending weeks at home, some women had more colourful ideas of what constituted a stay-at-home must-have.

A customised Rolex, for example.

“We’ve seen real growth in watches,” a spokesperson says, reporting that La Californienne and Lizzie Mandler’s reworked vintage Cartier and Rolex watches sold out within two days of going online through lockdown. Despite costing £3,000 and up, these pieces represented “feel-good investment items bought as a gift or to treat oneself.”

Viewed from a slight remove, what’s clear about lockdown shopping is that it wasn’t all limited to printer cartridges and yoga mats. Some of it was self-soothing in the form of pretty dresses.

Boden dress -
Boden dress –

Victoria dress, now £78, Boden

Boden has sold some 9,000 occasionwear items since the UK entered lockdown – surprisingly healthy numbers for a category they might have expected to crater in light of widespread wedding and event cancellations. The Victoria dress, a belted midi-dress with a garden-party print, originally priced at £130, accounted for 700 units sold.

The company’s customer insight team asked buyers why they sprung for an Ascot-appropriate dress with nowhere to wear it; many said they were chasing an uplift during unsettling times. One woman reported hanging it in her wardrobe, just to have something pretty to look at. 

Similar thinking seems to have led to a spike in swimwear sales. Hunza G’s sales are up 40 percent from 2019, with a number of spring-summer 2020 styles selling out during lockdown – despite regulations that brought international travel (and beach holidays) to a standstill. 

Other shoppers, perhaps weighing up savings from all those cancelled holidays, finally sprung for a Gucci, Saint Laurent or Bottega Veneta handbag. “Any item that could be considered an investment piece and where the brand has clear longevity, the customers not only continued buying, we saw demand increasing,” says Ida Petersson, buying director at

The ultimate investment piece for many shoppers is an engagement ring – those sold at a steady clip as well. Fenton & Co, the direct-to-consumer ethical fine jewellery brand, had its best months on record through lockdown as so many couples got engaged. The closure of so many jewellery retailers was a boon for the digital-only brand, helping it to end June on a high with four times the sales of the same month last year.

And while many fashion brands turned to mask production to top up supplies and keep sewers working in the face of sales slowdowns, at least one brand found that masks actually helped shoppers discover its core product.

The Mighty Company, which specialises in vibrant, high-end leather jackets, launched a line of glittery facemasks in May. A representative says that a surprising number of new customers purchased jackets after finding The Mighty Company through the face masks. The masks cost $25, or about £20; the jackets come in at £1,000. After all, it’s the non-essentials that really make your day.

For more news, analysis and advice from The Telegraph’s fashion desk, click here to sign up to get our weekly newsletter, straight to your inbox every Friday. Follow our Instagram @Telegraphfashion

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