If you’ve ever watched a Sumo match, there’s a word they use when the wrestlers need some encouragement.The gyōji (a Sumo referee) will call out “Hakkeyoi!” in the ring, meaning “Put some spirit into it!”
I’ve recently had the chance to present in front of real live people again and although it feels great to be back, it also feels different. Because depending on where I’m presenting, I am different. The energy it takes to be an “in-person” person is a different energy from being an “online” person — they require different aspects of “me” to come to the table. After two years of Zoom fatigue, I’ve finally learned how to present virtually, but I now I’m seeing that what works in the Zoom room doesn’t quite do the job in a conference room.
Because of this, I found my inner coach gently but insistently encouraging me and saying “Hakkeyoi!” — “Put some spirit into it!” This was not because I wasn’t giving it my all but because frankly, I was disoriented and trying to regain my balance.
So, I adapt. I rebalance until I’m hitting my stride again. It’s what we do as humans to adjust to change.
Just like adapting to being in-person and reassessing my presentation skills, the clothes we wear out in the world are adapting too. We’re finding a new balance in our wardrobes between what we used to do before the pandemic and applying what we’ve learned in the meantime. It’s helpful to look at this as a problem we’re trying to solve: “What can I wear that will best prepare me for the experiences before me right now?”
Since different people approach problem-solving in different ways, we’ll be looking closely at how this works across generational lines.
Decoding the Generations
Most generational surveys mark out at least four distinct groups, and I bet you already know what they are: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials (or Gen Y) and Gen Z, with Traditionalists often added in to complete the picture. Pretty simple, right?
But now we’re also starting to factor in Generation Alpha, which is already exerting an influence in marketing and advertising trends. And then you have the “in-between generations” — Xennials and Zennials — bridging gaps in their own unique way. Suddenly our simple picture seems more nuanced.
Each of these groups has their own expectations, habits and buying preferences, and each has had a different experience over the last several years. Decoding these – the qualities they share and the differences between them – will be key to understanding how they solve problems and how you can connect with them.
Connecting With Your Customers
The reason that understanding those traits is so important is that it enables you to connect with your customers in a meaningful way, understand their problems from their perspective and approach them in a way that resonates for them.
When it comes to the kinds of problems they’re looking to solve, we’re breaking these down into three main categories.
Workplaces are still changing and employees taking control of what they wear. Many are seeking to update their work wardrobe and are planning to wear more relaxed silhouettes to work. We will identify the subtle variations of what this can look like.
- Power Casual
- Business Comfort
People are primed and ready to get back to what they used to do and experience life again. In the spirit of having fun, we’ve curated a hashtag and a “Core” to describe new aspects of the experiences they’re trying! (Remember Gorpcore?) They might be learning new things or getting back to the familiar things they love – either way, they’re looking for clothes they can wear while doing it all.
- The #NewToMeSportCore
- The #UntetheredTravelCore
- The #GreatOutdoorsCore
What you do with your downtime has become just as important as work and life experiences. The rebalanced wardrobe should be healing for both mind and body.
- Connect the Dots
- Soothe Sailing
- Go with the Flow
Problems Need Solutions
Over the next few months we’re going to be taking a closer look at how these trends are taking shape, and diving into real-world scenarios to see how they play out. For just a taste, try this on for size – an issue that many companies are experiencing in the aftermath of the Great Resignation.
- Situation: A tech company is having a hard time competing in a tight labor market. Employees are leaving and replacements are hard to come by.
- Problem: How can this company retain current employees and attract new
- Profile: The majority of employees at this company are Millennials, with some Gen Z workers in entry-level positions and Gen Xers in leadership roles.
- Solution: Craft an apparel and accessories package that meets the needs of current workers managing a hybrid work week, mostly working from home but occasionally commuting to the office. With a large percentage of Gen Y and Z recipients, make sure each piece is ultra-stylish, comfortable and equally appropriate for work-time and playtime. For the Gen Xers, include items with a light footprint in the world. On top of that, include versatile pieces that will appeal to a wide range of job titles.
- Port Authority Microterry Pullover and Cardigan for WFH pulled-together comfort
- Mercer+Mettle Double-Knit Bomber adds a stylishly sleek layer of technical functionality
- OGIO Evolution Convertible Pack for the ready-for-anything traveler/commuter/I’m-at-the-farmers-market-today adventurers in the group
- Port Authority C-Free Snag-Proof 1/4-Zip for a soft, comfortable way to feel good and do good all at the same time
Decorate these with a meaningful message that employees are proud to wear. Be sure to get pictures of workers with their company gear and post them on social media to attract new prospects to open positions.
This is just one example. Over the next few months there will be more like this, exploring the themes of WORK, EXPERIENCES and CHILL as this trend takes shape in the work we do.
So just consider me your Sumo referee. As we explore these ideas, I’m going to ask you to “Put some spirit into it!” Recognize where changes are needed. Adapt. Rebalance. It’s not too much to ask of what we’re wearing…is it?