FASHION AFTER COVID-19 : THE NEW NORMAL

It is not even three months since I wrote about fashion heading towards the post Great Depression era of 1930s (http://shunyalifestyle.com/2019/12/the-shift-to-thrift/).  And here we are in the middle of a world crisis where everything in the world has come to an abrupt stop. Corona has changed everything. The world of fashion – fast & slow – has suddenly come to a standstill.

TIMES OF CRISIS

Spanish Influenza Pandemic – 1918

It is said that it takes a crisis to form a tactic. And fashion is no exception. Some of the best designs were born from struggle. And some of the best brands were made in such times.

Coco Chanel created women’s couture pieces from foraged fabrics when materials were scarce around the period of the First World War. During the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, surgical face masks became a staple item worn at all times both indoors and outdoors due to their essential protection. Escapist fashion of the 1930s and 40s originated from an epoch of political upheaval and future uncertainty. Restricted to repairing and reusing, creative remaking efforts became forms of expression during these times.

Similarly, the crisis that we are now finding ourselves in will undoubtedly initiate a shift in how we interpret fashion. Like the effect of past world wars and pandemics, we too will have to focus on quality over quantity, practicality over vanity.Everyone thought that the change would happen gradually, but that’s not the case anymore. This situation has come down on us as a message from mother nature – loud and clear. It is time. Change had to be done now.  And done quickly.

COVID-19 – THE WAKE UP CALL

Covid-19 Pandemic 2019-2020

This is a wake-up call for both us as consumers and for the industry as a whole. The threat that this pandemic holds over our heads is a call to action for the fashion industry to slow down, move away from mass production and change direction.

For once, time is in our hands, thanks to the lockdown. We should put our heads to use it effectively and get onto the drawing boards.Yes, the next big question is, what would be the trend in the post COVID-19 era. Here are some assumptions – immediate and long term:

AFTER CRISIS COMES CELEBRATION

This is a very short term view. What would happen to all of us once we are over and done with the current crisis. There will be relief. There will be celebration. We might presently be stewing in our isolated woes, crying into the latest homemade soup, but the drunken joy of regaining our freedom once this is all over could also parallel with the past crises. Life can be a colourful daze of buzzing streets and joyous parties. 

Just like Christian Dior’s freeing ‘New Look’ designs following WWII, Fashion post-corona could come in the form of sweeping, colourful fabrics, maximalist shapes, bold co-ordinates and unrestricted silhouettes. The difference from recent trends, however, will lie in our altered mind-sets. We will probably feel both battered and relieved. Style and Image may go down in our list of priorities. We may think of making the most of our health, liberty, vitality and hopefully, our Earth. We might want easy-to-wear, durable items that may last multiple seasons. 

ESSENTIALISM OVER TRENDS

We may get drawn to celebratory attires in the midst of our victory post corona. But without disposable incomes to stock up on fast fashion trends, we will have to invest in more essential goods. And be more creative with what we already have. That means a potential return of sewing skills, made-to-last rather than one-time-wear products, creative re-invention concepts, and the art of wardrobe swaps and thrifting.

TIPPING POINT WHERE WE STOP, PAUSE AND TAKE A U-TURN

The clock will have to be turned back on mass-production of disposable items. At least until our wallets have recovered. And that may take a long time. These trying times will unfortunately witness the fall of a lot of brands. We are already witnessing numerous global store closures, employees lay-offs, drops in stock prices, cancelled fashion shows and postponed events. A reshuffle and restart of the entire industry is imminent. To stay afloat, brands will need to be savvy and sustainable. That leaves us and our own creativity. When the rules are dismantled, anything goes in the game. Fashion could return to its basic beauty, an expression of individuality. And in the process, we can hope that our Earth will be able to heal some more.

About the author

RJ/Shunyalifestyle

Shunya is a journey of fashion veteran, Rajesh Jain, a business strategist in the Fashion & Retail industry. His domains cover all aspects of business – Product, People & Processes. He has journaled here his observations of this ever-changing trends in consumer behaviour and lifestyle.

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