What is the origin of Casual Friday?

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For some people, Friday means it’s time for the so-called Casual Friday. The day on which many people are allowed to appear at work in jeans and sneakers. I asked LinkedIn members who participates in this. Soon after that, someone asked me why it’s scheduled on Friday, and not for example on a Wednesday. This got me wondering. What is the origin of Casual Friday?

 

The trend has spread

I always thought that Casual Friday was invented because relatively many people have a day off on that day. When I started working for the government, this belief got confirmed. Most people work four days a week and a large part of them chooses to take Fridays off. When few people are in the office, it seems unnecessary to dress up. For me, this never made a difference, but at the time I thought that this was the reason.

But no. In fact, Casual Friday was not invented in the Netherlands. It came from Hawaii. People found it annoying to dress up in such a hot climate, which is why employees were allowed to wear an Aloha shirt on Fridays. You know, those short-sleeved shirts with an exotic print. And they called these days Aloha Friday. As a way to welcome the weekend.   

 

Soon after that, Californian companies also started loosening up their office dress codes. Slowly more and more American companies took over this habit and eventually the trend spread to Europe.

 

Why?

Chances are that most people cannot imagine a business culture without Casual Friday. It has become completely normal. Even though it hasn’t existed for very long in the Netherlands. In 1960, people got used to wearing casual clothes on Fridays (particularly the Aloha shirt), but this trend only started here in the Netherlands in the mid 1990’s.

But, is it really a trend? It seems that it has become the standard. Either way – as with all things involving clothing – commercial companies seize their opportunities. In 1996, clothing brand Levi’s saw possibilities to increase their revenue in the Netherlands through Casual Friday. They sent booklets to countless companies in which they demonstrated this new development. It showed exactly what Casual Friday meant and of course how the company could offer help. According to Levi’s, it was good to introduce this because it would have a positive effect on the working atmosphere, creativity and productivity.

You might wonder who would fall this, but this strategy had already worked well for Levi’s in the U.S. In 1992 they did the same thing there, and within 4 years they advised 20,000 companies on introducing casual clothing. When it became a trend in our country, 7 in 10 companies in the U.S. had already worked out policies for casual clothing at work. I have not been able to find out what Levi’s’ strategy has yielded in the Netherlands. But in the meantime, Casual Friday has grown to be a well-known concept and it is applied frequently.

I’m curious to hear your experiences with Casual Friday. Is it applied where you work and if so, do you participate?

Greetings,

Aileen

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