It’s undeniable that COVID-19 is making its mark on the world, but what does that mean for the fashion industry? Will it crash and burn, flounder around for a while, or regroup and prepare a plan to be bigger and better once we have a better handle on this disease? The fashion industry is experiencing big changes, so let’s explore what they are and what they mean for our future.
Welcome to the Digital Fashion World: Reinvented
Europe experienced a huge hit during the F/W 20 runway shows at Milan Fashion Week as COVID-19 concerns skyrocketed, forcing Georgio Armani to hold his show via live-stream only, bearing the safety of others in mind. In China, designers also used live-streaming, making Shanghai Fashion Week completely digital. This was hugely reactive. Behind the scenes, designers are working to prepare for the future, continuing to go through their creative process to create their lines – through zoom meetings instead of in offices. Designers are adapting quickly, but one of the most challenging aspects will be how to create designs digitally. It’s important to keep the emotion and engagement of the audience, but the design process relies on human contact. For now, Copenhagen Fashion Week is still scheduled for August, but what will future runway shows look like once we can start to head back outside? Venues, travel limitations, and event sizes are certainly going to be major factors involved when setting up these events. It’s difficult to see what the future holds, so it’s best to hold on tight and prepare for change.
Businesses are Looking to the Future
Business is not running as usual for the first time in decades. The silver lining? Fashion leaders now have time to reflect on our current situation to think of ways to hit the ground running in the future. A lot of holes in the system need to be repaired, and the time to rebuild them is now, and just like an emergency plan for a natural disaster, one is certainly needed if something like this happens again. The company founder of Urban Decay says now is a good time for reflection on how to make conditions better for marginalized workers AND the environment. Restructuring offshore supply chains, rethinking business partnerships, and fixing the model where we pay workers after shipment are all big-ticket contributors to the problem. Fixing these issues would be a good start and many business owners are using this newfound time to do so.
Using Power for Good
Even in the middle of a storm, people are still lending a hand, despite the odds of this game where no one comes out a winner. Influencers are selling their clothes and working with small brands to send the money made to charities supporting the COVID-19 cause. Luxury brands are also stepping up and donating money to organizations providing immediate relief to those impacted by COVID-19. Some donations are funding university research for COVID-19 and hospitals to provide better equipment and care for patients and staff. Independent brands (also in jeopardy) are still donating where they can, whether that’s to food banks, shelters for housing, or mental wellness companies. Some independent labels and mass corporations are making masks and other high priority items instead, while Elle has switched production completely from tights to washable masks. Mood itself is even doing its part by creating free downloadable PPE (personal protective equipment) patterns. Good samaritans are all around, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that.
Sustainability Takes a Backseat?
Sustainability has become a buzz word that we’ve all heard, and eco-friendly fabrics are at the forefront of the movement. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the industry is experiencing major cuts in production costs, layoffs, and halts to farming. These issues trump environmental concerns for the time being. When it comes to sustainability, there are a lot of unanswered questions right now: is it a basic need and will leaders with money continue to fund the efforts towards a more sustainable future? Companies adopting habits like repair and share (where companies repair garments) would help sustainability now and in the future. Moving forward, we may come out stronger than ever. This devastating blow could be an opportunity to reevaluate and transition toward more sustainable avenues.
It’s easy to surrender to a negative mindset, but in terms of the textile and fashion industry— it’s a force to be reckoned with. While the whole world is trying to figure out what our new normal is, the fashion industry is right beside them, taking notes on how to care, share, and keep going. Take this time to visit a hobby, like sewing, to relax or stay busy. Use scrap fabric and utilize our free sewing patterns, or refresh old clothes with extra trims and sewing supplies you have laying around the house. As for the fashion industry— It can be battered and bruised, but it won’t be stopped.
What are your thoughts on the future of the fashion industry? Drop your comments below!