As Families Refresh their Wardrobes, It’s Clear Casualization is Here to Stay


Kohl’s Vision to be the Retailer of Choice for the Active and Casual Lifestyle Directly Aligns with Consumer Shopping Behavior 

As restrictions ease, summer schedules are filling up with parties, playdates and vacations, and some are even heading back to the office after a year and a half of joining zoom meetings in sweatshirts and joggers. Now, as America returns to a sense of normalcy, people are rushing to refresh their wardrobe with clothes that reflect their new attitudes and lifestyles. 

“As more people return to work, resume travel and attend events and gatherings, they are seeking out new and updated apparel, while maintaining the preference for casual comfort,” said Doug Howe, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer. “These consumer behaviors reinforce the strategy we laid out in October 2020 to become the trusted destination for the active and casual lifestyle and we are continuing to invest in these categories as we emerge from the pandemic.” 

Finding an Active and Casual Wardrobe at Kohl’s

As part of Kohl’s focus on becoming the destination for active and casual for the entire family, the company looks to drive its active business to be at least 30% of sales. Kohl’s is making progress on this goal, as evidenced by active sales nearly doubling year-over-year in the first quarter, growing to 23% of sales from 20% last year. It has transformed its women's business to drive clarity and distinction to the brands that are most relevant from the active and casual perspective, and in men’s, it has exited downtrending brands and allocated more space to active and Big & Tall offerings, while downsizing businesses such as dress and classic sportswear where there is less demand. 

What this looks like in store is a refreshed merchandising approach with all eyes on active and casual. As customers explore the new norms of dressing in a post-Covid environment, they will become inspired by the emphasis on active apparel at the front of the store and find casual outfitting examples for how they may be able to dress back at the office.

“As customers begin to head back to the office, we see they are craving a more casual wardrobe,” said Howe. “They want to look polished and professional, but still be comfortable, and are realizing that you don’t need to wear a tailored dress or suit to be presentable at work.” 

In men’s, suits have traded to khakis and dress shirts, and khakis have traded to denim and polos. For women, there has been an increased interest in jackets and third layers. Think boyfriend blazers, cropped jackets and oversized cardigans to compliment new proportions in looser fitting bottoms with denim a key complimenting component. 

Kohl’s new private athleisure brand, FLX, is also a successful demonstration of Kohl’s shift toward active and casual. The brand was built around the ability to move freely and feel comfortable no matter the occasion. It boasts pieces that can transition from being professional and comfortable at work, to taking off the blazer and going to a child’s soccer game. It offers the flexibility consumers are now craving when they are building their wardrobe. 

Destination for Denim 

Across the board, men, women and young adults are gravitating towards denim, but again, keeping comfort top-of-mind. Demand for looser, baggier and relaxed fits have skyrocketed, while growth in high rise and curvy fits also remains strong. 

Kohl’s is continuing to make investments in denim to build on its already strong share and denim authority. It is actively growing key denim brands like Levi’s, Sonoma Goods for Life, SO, and LC Lauren Conrad in women’s; and Levi’s, Lee, and Wrangler in men’s. 

A Unique Position with an Aspirational and Accessible Brand Portfolio

With the rapid changes happening across the retail industry and the trend of consumers choosing to live more actively and casually, Kohl’s new strategy with an even more significant pivot towards the active and casual lifestyle has never been more relevant.   

Kohl’s has a unique advantage in the active and casual space with its accessible and aspirational brand portfolio, seamless omnichannel experience, and industry-leading loyalty program. It is partnering in new ways with existing brands like Nike and adidas to curate more active and casual offerings for the customer, and working with long-established Kohl’s private brands like Simply Vera Vera Wang to reinvent their lines to stay current with consumer preferences.

In addition to national active brand favorites like Nike, Under Armour, adidas, and Champion, customers can also find other great active and casual brands at Kohl’s including national brands like Levi’s, Vans, Hurley and Dickies, as well as private label offerings such as Sonoma Goods for Life, SO, LC Lauren Conrad, Simply Vera Vera Wang, Nine West, and Croft & Barrow.

So for those shopping for that next big post-pandemic get-together, or rebuilding their office wardrobe with a lean toward casual and comfort, visit one of Kohl’s more than 1,100 stores nationwide, or shop from anywhere at any time at for all active and casual needs.