Why fashion must not be the same after COVID-19
I haven’t felt like buying a new piece of clothing for about two months — since the onset of the pandemic. Along with my dwindling bank account, this lengthy period of NOT shopping and wearing the same clothes day in and day out has reminded me just how decadent fashion is and how we really do not need yet another dress, shoe or handbag. COVID19 has been an unwelcome if badly needed reminder that fashion is made by HUMANS. Now, and only now, when we meet the arrival of a delivery at our doorstep with a spray bottle of sanitizing solution, do we finally realize that the supply chain and its magical logistics, the kind which enable an outfit from Netaporter to appear at our doorstep in a chic beribboned box, cannot be taken for granted. There are no elves, only underpaid hourly wage slaves, most likely from non-OECD countries, with no benefits, whose hands (impeccably clean?) have gingerly picked, packed and gift-wrapped that package. If COVID19 is good for one thing, it is making us think about how and where human hands have touched or handled an object which has entered our personal, physical custody. Isn’t it paradoxical how the depradations of globalization can be brought home by a glossy package of ecommerce goodies? I hope that fashion consumers, even if they do not disavow shopping entirely, will emerge from this crisis with redoubled skepticism about the fashion system and better habits of mind, namely #whomademyclothes with its demands for greater supply chain transparency, environmental sustainability and fair labour practices. In the meantime, we, whose closets are overflowing with tens of unworn clothes, should consider patronizing circular economy fashion retailers for the first time instead of reverting to our previous patterns of wasteful linear consumption. The worst offenders are high street fashion brands whose businesses are unapologetically built on accelerating the take-make-dispose dynamic. At my age, 52, I can actually calculate how many times I”m likely to wear a garment before I die. To be clear, I’m not telling you NOT to shop ever again. I’m just suggesting that you think about it more before buying yet another thing that you really don’t need. OR when you do buy something new, at least consider wearing it to death. Here’s a fantastic article about three startups enabling the reuse/reconditioning/rental of clothes: https://www.fastcompany.com/90457489/caastle-thredup-trove-most-innovative-companies-2020 Did you know, for example, that Patagonia is buying back and reconditioning its products so they can be resold to consumers? These past few months, COVID19 has prevented the usual commercial stakeholders of the fashion industry (editors, buyers, designers) from participating in their customary round of seasonal events, i.e., fashion shows and wholesale presentations. Hopefully, the cataclysm of this non-event will pave the way to the extinction of the industry’s clunky, wasteful and retrograde system. Originally dictated by the slow cadence of the supply chain from decades ago, the formats and structures of the bi-annual fashion cycle are about as necessary as a petticoat. If current technologies cannot already facilitate viewing and buying fashion collections with greater efficiency than the fashion circuses convened in Paris, Milan and New York, then COVID-19 will certainly speed their perfecting. For that matter, the day is coming soon when fashion — even high fashion — will be untethered from any sort of calendar and available to purchase on demand regardless of shape, style, climate or season. If there’s a silver lining to COVID19, it is greatly hastening the death of this wasteful industry, along with its destructive psychopathologies. These include not only body dysmorphia, shopping addiction and premature objectification and sexualization of young women but a mainstream culture of envy and comparison.