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Why the matchy-matchy Christmas pyjama trend isn’t going anywhere

Author: Chloe Mac Donnell Source: The Guardian
December 24, 2023 at 13:40

In this week’s newsletter: Festive family PJs are Instagram friendly, celebrity endorsed and taking over the high street

Most families have an annual Christmas tradition. It could be a buck’s fizz in the morning, a post-lunch game of Scrabble or even that yearly heated political debate. But a new custom has entered the festive lexicon: family pyjamas. Everyone from grandparents to grandchildren and even fur babies are donning the same style of nightwear to create the ultimate family photo for social media.

It’s a trend that started in the US, but homogenous pyjama dressing has taken off in the UK. On the high street M&S, John Lewis, Next and Primark all sell family pyjama sets. (Some even include matching jackets and bandanas for the family dog.)

M&S were one of the earlier British retailers to adopt the trend, selling its first matching family sets in 2017. “They were an instant hit with customers and we’ve seen the demand grow ever since,” says Sarah Ayling, head of lingerie and sleepwear buying. This Christmas, the high street giant has six different designs ranging from traditional tartan prints to tropical jungle foliage. But its “disco Santa” motif is proving most popular – so far more than 500,000 sets have been sold.

Elsewhere, sales are up 40% at Gap, with bestsellers including red- and green-check flannel sets. A spokesperson for the online nightwear shop Cyberjammies describes this year’s sales as “phenomenal”. Its cotton Whistler collection, featuring illustrations of skiers and fir trees, has consistently sold out since it launched in September. Some of Primark’s Grinch-themed sets, meanwhile, are selling for double the retail price on eBay.

Check mates … M+S family pyjamas.
Check mates … M+S family pyjamas.

Rather than tiger parents dictating what their children wear, the trend is being fuelled by gen Alpha and gen Z. On TikTok, the term Christmas pyjamas has almost 70m views, with tweens and teens forcing older family members to don a pair then lip-sync to Christmas songs or catwalk around the kitchen.

“We like to identify with the people we love,” says Dr Sandra Wheatley, a clinical psychologist. “As a family, you are one unit, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Wearing matching pyjamas is akin to putting on a family uniform. It connects everyone.” It can also, she says, “level the playing field” for “blended” families: “It’s a way of saying we are all equal.”

The coordinated pyjama trend dates back to 1950s America, when shopping catalogues ran images portraying nuclear families in “mini-me” matching sleepwear. In the modern day, it is celebrities who have catalysed the trend. The Kardashian-Jenners favour plaid styles (though Kim dressed her kids in all-red snowflakes this year), Diana Ross and her clan like candy-cane stripes, while the Beckhams’ annual embossed silky sets are said to be from Olivia von Halle, a luxury London-based pyjama-maker whose prices start from £320.

If you would like to try it out but don’t think your family will go for all-out matching pyjamas, why not go for nightwear in similar colours? “It makes it a bit cooler,” says Tom Pyne of the UK pyjama and loungewear brand Chelsea Peers. “Plus, it’s more versatile. Our customers like to wear them each year, or even all year round. They are not bought for just one day.”

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