How This Matching Sweatsuit Became The Unofficial Uniform Of Quarantine

If you follow even a handful of influencer-types on Instagram, it’s likely you’ve noticed one fashion trend emerge that seems to have been serendipitously constructed for our times. Everyone's wearing colourful matching sweatsuits in gym-teacher-style fits, with elasticised hems, raglan sleeves, and a stitched Dorito at the neck. Suddenly, the cliche ‘a pop of colour’ means something again, because these sweats burst out of the grid, making everything else around them seem grey in comparison. Whether in McDonald’s yellow, Nickelodeon green, or Muppet blue, the sweatsuits are a cheerful middle finger to the increasingly bleak scenes they inhabit: America, mid-lockdown.
While there are many brands that make matching-set sweats, there is only one Pied Piper: Scott Sternberg, whose basics brand Entireworld has become the aspirational uniform of quarantine, the Outdoor Voices of Doing Nothing. “I just wanted to build a business out of the stuff you live in, 'your favourite old dot dot dot' vibe,” Sternberg told me from his home in Los Angeles, where he’s been overseeing a surge in sales since stay-at-home measures began. While other retailers are baiting consumers with deep discounts to weather this retail apocalypse, Entireworld’s wares are selling out at full price. Sternberg certainly didn’t predict a pandemic, nor that it would help his brand, but in some ways, he’s been preparing Entireworld for this exact moment. “People have liked it from the beginning, but it’s definitely clicked into place over this past month in a way that was obviously not planned. People are on our frequency now.”
That frequency,  characterised by monotony, solitude, domesticity, and apocalypse — of mind-numbing sameness and also total instability — isn’t exactly appealing, but nevertheless, here we are. How does one dress for something as fucked as this? Fashion has typically served as an emotional hot air balloon, lifting our spirits. These days, we need something more like a buoy, preventing us from sinking. For retailers, it’s a grim proposition, evident in the amount of desperate promotional emails flooding our inboxes, rebranding frilly sundresses as “house dresses,” extravagant slip-ons as “inside shoes.”
What sets Entireworld apart is that it hasn’t had to change. It’s always offered a tempered form of optimism that’s grounded in essential, necessary clothing (“the stuff you live in,” the website reads). “The concept of utopia is one that’s quite broad. I’m really compelled by the idea that fashion can make you feel cozy and comfy, and that’s just as valid as it making you feel chic and sexy,” says Sternberg. 
But turning your back on ‘chic and sexy’ isn’t exactly an easy sell. Sweatsuits, for the most part, is what we wear when something has failed, whether it’s a relationship or society. It’s what humans don to become inhuman, as either cogs, slobs, or machines. Coming in non-colours like grey and putty, dystopian sweatsuits’ only real perk is comfort. Even Kanye West’s clay-coloured Sunday School sweats, recently reported to be designed by American Apparel founder Dov Charney, don’t quite express joy as much as labor, though the shape and fit of them is expertly done. (Sternberg says: “I loved American Apparel. Entireworld was built on the heels of American Apparel, quite purposefully. [Dov] nailed it. It's just that he was his own worst enemy, and the quality always sucked.)
But as Sternberg found, something magical happens to sweatsuits when they come in a colour. They become a uniform of pure, approachable innocence, a slightly surreal thing to behold on a full-grown adult. In other words, it’s just weird enough to tickle the brain, but normal enough to become a full-blown trend.
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Wow.⁣ I mean, WTF. Within the last couple of days, the situation in the world has become at best utterly confusing and at worst kinda terrifying. ⁣ ⁣ Am I sick already? Can I leave my house? What do I tell my employees? Will my mom be okay on her flight home today? Can Zod get Coronavirus? Did I buy enough TP? How long will this last? Who’s in charge? What’s next?⁣ ⁣ There’s the awkward and seemingly trivial question of what a brand does during a time like this – business as usual with product release emails and sunny IG posts? I can’t tell you how many people have suggested we start making masks. None of that feels right, but…⁣ ⁣ There’s also the question of what a small business does in a time like this. Entireworld is just that – there’s under 10 of us here making this all happen day to day, without big fancy financial backers supporting us. Our day to day sales are what supports our business and allows us to keep going.⁣ ⁣ So, as we’re working from home and thinking about what we can do to keep ourselves and our business safe, we’re also thinking about all of you at home, feeling the same crazy stuff. And we thought that maybe a cozy Sweatsuit could, if nothing else, provide a little comfort and warmth as we all collectively contemplate the future of the world, and the Entireworld.⁣ ⁣ For the next 3 days, buy a full Sweatsuit (sweatshirt + sweatpants) and receive 25% OFF at checkout. Just enter the promo code SWEATSUITWORLD. ⁣ ⁣ Grab some cozy socks, tees, and sweaters while you’re at it.⁣ ⁣ Be safe,⁣ Scott and your friends at Entireworld

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“When I wear my yellow or my pistachio-green sweatsuit out, it's honestly a moment, it’s own statement,” says Sternberg. “People look in good and bad ways.”  Sternberg’s amplified the friendliness of the colour through clever design decisions: “There’s softness around the edges where elastic bands are, and how the fabric is scrunched up with the slight tapering at the ankle. Up top, there's really subtle detailing; there's raglan sleeves with a drop-shoulder seam, and that actually helps give the seam a different shape so it doesn't lay flat. It's like a happy, rounded little cloud,” he describes.
I’m typically immune to Instagram peer pressure, but after a month of seeing people radiating in their sweats on my feed, I caved to my curiosity and bought a set in turmeric yellow, one of the only complete sets still available in my size. “Subscribe for eternal salvation,” the site text read, an inside joke (ha) among friends (hi). I felt somewhat like a sucker to be spending more than $150 (£120) on two items made out of fleece, but I had already become accustomed to buying much less and spending more on each item, which worked out to be the same amount of money I spent when I was younger and on a fast-fashion diet. “I’ll wear this forever,” I thought, trying to imagine my greying self plodding around my home. Me: a goofy grandma in goldenrod. The idea made me happy.
My Entireworld package came wrapped in tape that repeated: “Your Entireworld is in this box.” I looked around my own box, the home in which I’d lived, worked, and existed 23.5 hours of every day for the past month, and shuddered. It was eerie, and brilliant.
Inside the suit, my body disappeared — not in appearance (frankly, I looked pretty good in the set), but rather in feeling. The fleece was so soft, the bands were so tender, and the weave was so weightless that I had the distinct sensation of vanishing inside. I felt like a floating head, atop a cloud of comfort. My underwear suddenly felt pinched. I put on a pair of coordinating socks — glittery bronze with contrast toes in a matching yellow — and went about my business.
I caught glimpses of myself throughout the day in mirrors, on Zoom, on FaceTime, and the effect always made me laugh. I looked slightly unhinged, but also comfortable with it, like a host of a wholesome kid’s show about to sing the same song for the 87th time.
To be clear, these sweats are not the best I’ve owned in terms of quality or construction. The stitches along the sleeves pucker a bit, and I have strict instruction that I can’t throw them in the dryer, which seems profane to the concept of sweats. In contrast, I have an Acne sweatshirt I bought on deep discount years ago that I’ve abused a hundred times on high-heat spin cycles, that hasn't yet frayed a stitch. I have a pair of American Giant sweatpants that have moulded to my legs after years of wear, and are more durable than a pair of jeans. I love those Inside Clothes for their reliability and hardiness. But my new Entireworld sweats feel like a sun-warmed towel after climbing out of the deep end of the pool. They feel good on my body and my soul. It’s a different value proposition altogether.
Entireworld’s basic sweats come in two styles: high-waisted sweatpants they call a ‘men’s fit’ or ones with a slightly lower rise (I prefer a pant that sits lower). For the sweatshirt, the ‘women’s’ has a slightly wider neck-hole; I like the look of the smaller one on the ‘men’s’. They run extremely true to size, if you like a boxier, roomy look.
If you want a pair in your favourite colour, now’s your time: According to Scott, a huge shipment, is finally off the truck and in the warehouse and will be available this week. Sweats in fun colours will be restocked, and new spring-weight loop-back sweats and mock-neck sets will be available for the first time.
If things keep going the way they are, Entireworld will quickly sell out of this shipment as we spend another month indoors, figuring out ways to care for our families and communities, and comfort ourselves in the process. But even though sales have been good, Entireworld isn’t immune to larger forces. Its latest round of fundraising fell through, and Scott has been scrambling to find a financing solution to keep the company afloat.
But in a reality where there is no winning except existing, comfort, wherever we can find it, is invaluable. Scott’s keenly aware of Entireworld’s increasingly relevant selling point. “We’re kind of in a dystopic moment. It at least feels that way. This feeling of an end, something dark and something plagued. But utopia comes out of dystopia,” he suggests.
When there’s so much pain around us, a bit of optimism can be like medicine.

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