dress While vital safety measures impacting how we travel, work and socialise are temporary, the “quarantine of consumption” (a phrase conceived by Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort) engendered by the pandemic is likely to last much longer. The big realisation? We need less, much less than we ever thought we did, and we need to think harder about what we do consume— including what we wear.
So, will socially responsible clothing with built-in face protection become the norm? Will TikTok’s hyped casual wear be here for good? Or, will we be desperate to dress up the moment it’s safe to socialise IRL? Here’s how we predict the next year in fashion will look.
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The new fashion context: socially responsible dressing
During April’s instalment of Vogue’s Global Conversations, Virgil Abloh used the term “service industry” to describe the fashion world’s evolved modus operandi during (and post) pandemic. The phrase struck a chord. If anything, our clothing (which now extends to our face coverings) has never been more vital, with industry titans (from Louis Vuitton to Prada and Gucci) and independent fashion labels (including NY-based Collina Strada and London’s Emergency Designer Network) pivoting to create PPE.
The shift to needs-based fashion, which utilises our industry’s versatility, could extend far beyond designer masks. While the immediate emphasis will be on protective outerwear and ultra easy-to-clean fabrics, it’s likely the more everyday and luxurious pieces in our wardrobes will also be retuned. The effect? We’re expecting ready-to-wear face-coverings, similar to existing design signatures at Marine Serre and Yeezy, to lead a progressive new era in socially responsible dressing.
The new fashion context: wardrobe curation replaces trends
We’re not even halfway through 2020, but the new decade has so far demanded a radical and urgent rethink of how we manufacture and consume fashion. Ambitious efforts to tackle waste— from renting clothes to shopping sustainable labels only—were already driving change pre-COVID-19, but this might (we hope) be the waste-conscious wake-up call we’ve all been waiting for. So, what would that actually look like in terms of clothing?
Well, with many labels poised to embrace seasonless collections and a Depop generation who prioritise low-cost secondhand clothes over low-cost new clothes, modern fashion’s clock has been scrambled. All those variations on vintage themes that you see on social media—from 1980s silk scarves worn as tops, home-knitted cardigans, and the return of the flared jeans you already own (as seen on model Mona Tougaard)—mean fashion trends are becoming far more abstract. In reality, the blend of meaningful handmade and hand-me-down pieces, alongside considered purchases, presents a future where individual curation carries more cachet than any ‘must-wear’ trend.
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The new fashion context: hyped casual wear is here to stay
We’ve all witnessed dress codes relaxing during international lockdowns, but for many under-25s, who might have never stepped into an office, 2020 has deepened remote social/working practices that were already second nature and reaffirmed the pre-existing fashion mood.
Consult the canon of TikTok style and you’ll find a mostly genderless, leisurely uniform. Immaculate, chunky sweatpants and body-con vests straight out of the late 1990s/2000s playbook, paired with box-fresh indoor sneakers and groomed-to-perfection skin—the next generation of diehard casual wear fans aren’t likely to ditch their comfort-first wardrobe when international lockdown restrictions lift, but they will continue to go the extra mile to seek out those rarer, internet-hyped pieces that go mainstream overnight and score extra marks on IG (Yeezy slides in ‘resin’ and Palace/Evisu reversible sweaters included).
The new fashion context: mindful dressing is the glamour we’ve been missing
While ‘glamour’ is not a word that springs to mind when imagining a post-pandemic world, ‘creativity’ is. The freedom to take real delight in fashion’s transformative powers has offered escapism during the pandemic (case in point: the outpouring of celebrity nostalgia on what would have been Met Gala Monday). So, is there a place for dressing up now?