How the Onesie took over the world: With Christmas sales of 2012's daftest fashion craze up 600%, the jokers who invented it are laughing all the way to the bank
01:18 GMT, 27 December 2012
Chances are you gave or received one this Christmas. If not, you'll certainly have spotted someone in one. The 'onesie' – a kind of adult romper suit consisting of a joined together tracksuit top and trousers – has become the fashion phenomenon of the year.
Remember the 'slanket', that cosy blanket with sleeves you could snuggle under on the sofa The onesie gives you that feeling, even when you're out and about.
Wearing one has been likened to 'being inside a teddy bear's womb' and, despite its unflattering look, the onesie has become a global phenomenon.
Cheryl Cole rocking her cheetah-print onesie in Paris this summer, left, and One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles in his white onesie in London
Pre-Christmas sales were up 600 per cent, they were profiled on BBC 2's Newsnight – and even London Mayor Boris Johnson has confessed to owning one (in a Union Jack pattern, for the record).
Asda have sold nearly 900,000 of their giant all-in-ones in the run-up to Christmas alone – 42 per cent of their customers gave one as a festive gift, while a third of them chose it as their Christmas Day outfit.
Even John Lewis reported 'astonishing' sales (exact figures are yet to be confirmed). Last year saw Marks & Spencer trial a single onesie for Christmas. It did so well, the company extended the range to incorporate ten styles this winter. 'We believe the trend is here to stay,' says Soozie Jenkinson, head of lingerie for M&S.
ASOS, Debenhams and River Island have also reaped the rewards of stock- piling this year's seasonal must-have, likewise New Look, which announced that its stores were selling a onesie every three seconds in the Christmas run-up.
Forget Alexander McQueen or Emilia Wickstead, amid all the fevered speculation as to what the Duchess of Cambridge might wear during her pregnancy, there is one designer who believes he has the ultimate ensemble for the royal mother-to-be.
'I think a pink Nordic folk design “Lusekofte” OnePiece (139) would be the perfect garment for her to lounge around in at Kensington Palace over the coming months,' says Thomas Adams, 27, co-founder and CEO of OnePiece, the company that gave us the original onesie.
Holly Willoughby in a spotted onesie on This Morning in November, next to co-presenter Philip Schofield, left, and Brad Pitt on a shopping trip in his black onesie, right
Although the garment is the Marmite of the modern wardrobe, love it or hate it, it has made three young men from Norway very rich indeed. Five years ago, Thomas and two friends, Henrik Norstrud and Knut Gresvig, both now 30, came up with the whimsical idea of sewing their sweatpants to their hoodies to create the ultimate garment for lounging at home.
Five years ago, Thomas and two friends,
Henrik Norstrud and Knut Gresvig, both now 30, came up with the
idea of sewing sweatpants to hoodies to create
the ultimate garment for lounging
After inserting a long zip to ensure easy access and exit, the trio found their prototype 'OnePiece' was the envy of their friends, who persuaded them to make more.
'We made 50,' recalls Thomas, who has now left university to devote all his time and energy to his business. 'They sold out in a few days so we made more, and it just grew from there.
'Within 18 months, two per cent of the Norwegian population had them. We were as surprised as anyone when people started wearing the OnePiece at clubs and it became a fashion and lifestyle statement.'
Today, the company has sold hundreds of thousands of their onesies – which range in price from 99 to 159 – around the world, with celebrity fans as diverse as Brad Pitt, Robbie Williams, Louis Walsh, Tom Daley and Justin Bieber. High profile female onesie lovers include Rihanna, Holly Willoughby, Cheryl Cole, Heidi Klum and Kate Moss.
Kate Moss still manages to look smart in an army green onesie in London, left, and Dancing On Ice contestant Jennifer Ellison in her patterned onesie, right
It was Harry Stiles and his One Direction bandmates who really sent the style into the fashion stratosphere, and so devoted are the band to their giant baby grows that they've collaborated with the brand to create a limited edition range, each emblazoned with one of their handprints.
Many acknowledged their appeal for
children, and this seemed to extend to those older offspring populating
the university campuses of the UK, who have adopted the onesie as the
student attire of choice
'Everyone starts off saying they wouldn't be seen dead in one,' says Lisa Dwan, who brought the Norwegian company to the UK and America two years ago.
'Then they put one on and never want to take it off. I bought one, wore it on the plane home from Norway, and went straight to a dinner party at a friend's house. 'I got a few funny looks to start with but then everyone wanted to know where they could get one. You just can't help falling for them.'
But the onesie certainly seems to be the clothing equivalent of the UGG boot. A straw-poll among my friends – most of whom are in their 40s – saw opinion split on the trend.
Many acknowledged their appeal for children, and this seemed to extend to those older offspring populating the university campuses of the UK, who have adopted the onesie as the student attire of choice.
One Direction – from left, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles and Liam Payne – pose in their multicoloured onesies in Battersea
In fact, a recent Varsity ski trip saw hundreds of Oxford and Cambridge undergraduates taking to the slopes on an official 'onesie day'. So what exactly is the appeal of this controversial, and somewhat ludicrous, garment Professor Ros Taylor, a psychologist at Strathclyde Business School, confesses she fell for them instantly and has been won over by their juvenile charm and silly styling.
'The idea of grown men shaking off the shackles of Alpha Male suits and ties, and succumbing to the allure of these cossetting one pieces is very appealing,' she says. 'Women who are frazzled from juggling the demands of family and work can relax instantly by slipping one on. It just adds a sense of fun to life. It's hard to be stressed in a onesie.'
And if the OnePiece is the ultimate in chill-out wear, spawning a multitude of copies online and on the High Street, then the onesie trend has been taken to another level by the Kigu, a cult Japanese import which sees the slouchy all-in-one styled as furry animals. Hip young things including Cara Delevigne, singer Florence Welch and Daisy Lowe are all devotees of these very cute costumes, which see onesie-wearers transformed into owls, giraffes, tigers, bears, penguins and more.
Brooke Vincent tweeted this picture of her by her Christmas tree in a polkadot onesie, left, as did Little Mix's Jade Thirwell of her in a customised Onesie Nation onesie
Tom Cohn and Nick Harriman, co-founders of Kigu, originally brought 300 suits back from Japan, putting up 2,000 each to buy the stock. They rapidly found themselves with a waiting list, and in just a couple of years have grown their turnover to almost 1 million.
Not all academics are so enamoured by the infantalisation of fashion, however. Dr Peter Thompson, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of York, comments: 'Professionally speaking, I'm baffled. Personally, I wonder what the world is coming to. I can't imagine why any adult would want to do this. Will they be going out wearing nappies next'