Even before the pandemic, the fashion industry was said to be unraveling. The New York Times has asked a provoking question in quarantine. What happens now that no one has a reason to dress up?
Premium fabrics like silk and furs were mostly available to the royal courts and the wealthy through the 15th and 16th centuries, when class was most distinct. Peasants and commoners of the middle ages often wore cotton and wool, cheaper, natural materials farm owners could make themselves. Even colors of materials were an indication of class.
Thanks to urbanization, the breakdown of class and war, anyone could get their hands on whatever materials they fancied.
And then, because of World War 2, New York Fashion week rose to prominence with the intent of taking attention away from the likes of Paris Fashion Week as the hub of fashion culture. But over 75 years, technology has progressed. Even more relaxed attitudes in regards to fashion standards emerged with fast fashion in the 1990s. It introduced an incredibly fast production model that could bring clothing from design to stores in as little time as two weeks. This nonchalant ideology, as we now are starting to see, is unsustainable. Right now, they may be taking the biggest hit in the industry, because micro-trends are irrelevant.
The point is, fashion has changed several times over the course of history. While its been great that fashion has become accessible and reaches the masses, we still need to make sure we are familiar with the process, to see and cherish the value of our clothing. Who makes our clothing and how they do it are important things to understand. Fashion is a saturated market, and with so many options at various price points, it can be difficult for consumers to choose the best option, let alone find the information without company transparency.
In regard to our current quarantine, its simply a domino effect right now. Stores don’t have product from their manufacturers because they had to close. Take the airline industry for example. It’s down 84% this year because there is nowhere for people to travel right now, especially leisurely. Is it over? Not even close. Its just a matter of what’s most important, and without access or ability, its simply a pause for the cause. After extremely trying times like we face now, fashion has always been ready to lift people’s spirit. The glittering, easy going nature of the flapper era followed the dangerous Spanish Influenza.
While for now, we wait, its invigorating to think of what fashion’s next act will look like.
Hopefully as stores and brands reopen, we will get to see a redefined set of values and customers will be invested in the making of their clothing, as much as the grandeur of it. Its hopeful to think that we might see a more increased spark of interest in slow fashion. It’s sustainable, exquisite and unique. Even decently constructed garments will override weekly drops of micro-trends, knockoffs and overdone accessibility.
Fashion itself may have become the faux pas over the past couple years, but trends are cyclical. Even if it doesn’t seem as “cool” or important as before, a renaissance will be inevitable. People have to buy clothes. Whether you like it or not, having style is fun. Opposites like functional and frivolous can coexist on the fashion spectrum, and it can be long lasting when fashionistas, myself included, understand garment construction.
It’s always nice to be dressed well. How one chooses to style themselves, however is up to them. Today fashion reaches every corner, every race, every income in some way. It’s more than a marker of status. Fashion is a survivor of trying times. It always matters. Old ways might be dead, but its opened the door to evolving. Try that on for size in your next #outfitoftheday.