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Green Is The New Black

OPINION: Fashion In The Time Of COVID-19

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This week is Fashion Revolution Week; a global movement calling for systemic change in the fashion industry. In particular, it focuses on the need for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. And this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has ratcheted the discussion up a notch as our attention is drawn to the questionable global systems in which we are complicit. We recently shared how the fashion industry is failing its workers, and here our guest writer, Marco Ferrari, explores how Coronavirus might just be the catalyst to revolutionise the fashion industry once and for all.

“Looks like the spread of the virus and its very sad consequences are giving us extra time to take a look back on what we’ve done so far and, oh boy! It doesn’t look very nice indeed.

It’s been a few years now that urgency for a drastic change in environmental and economical behaviours have been demanded (fortunately) by a way too small (unfortunately) group of people, although this whole COVID thingie is just catalyzing it way quicker than expected. And we have no other choice now than keeping up with the changes (because Kardashians are so 2019).

The fashion industry has also been expecting, for a few years now, a 180-degree turn towards more sustainable and conscious solutions. But amid all the good intentions (from swapping to full circularity) a lot of greenwashing has wormed its way through the crevices, making the whole process evolve way too slowly. It’s like that “please-5-minutes-more” snoozing when you’re already two hours late for work. The earth is basically gonna fire us if we don’t get our sh*t together.

International associations like the Global Fashion Agenda have helped, setting programs to closely monitor the improvements in the sustainability of some big fashion industry players through “The Pulse Of The Fashion Industry”. But after this mess, what will the fashion panorama look like? Will things be back to business as usual? How can the apparel industry finally reinvent itself and finally get rid of its archaic and outdated consumption model? (And will I ever go back to my pre-Corona weight, after all this binge eating? I digress…).

There’s a revolution brewing…

First things first: there must be a revolution at the core of the fashion industry, its purpose, and the very essence of the apparel itself. Design will be key to identify the new needs requested by the changing customer, may it be the new voice of Gen Z or the older generation that’s increasingly asking “why?”. All the changes our society is going through are forever changing the way we position ourselves before fashion, and it’s leaving indelible marks on the current purchasing pattern.

The main changes will revolve around the very scope of every piece of clothing and its purpose. Fashion will not only be a way to make ephemeral art, but it will also most certainly move away from the buy-throw-buy-throw vicious circle it is stuck in. Halle-frigging-lujah!

Customers will demand more durable clothing, serving multiple purposes. It will move away from the on-spot trend towards a more individual driven approach. Fashionistas will make room to fashion personas and we are WAY too excited for this to happen. It won’t be the end of the Ferragni driven society next week but for sure, 2020 is setting the base for a major change to happen pretty soon. Buckle up and brace yourself.

The future of fashion

Changes in our daily and social behaviours will also influence the way we “think” about apparel. Comfort, versatility, and wellness will become keywords. And with this, all the ensuing effects from the usage of more natural fibres to enhancing every piece with more and more technology. Thermoregulation, studies on anions, high-tech leisurewear … the more geek the better (and it’ll go hand in hand with more durable). Investments on I+D will become a core discipline for all thriving fashion companies that will offer more and more products that will protect you from pollution, that will help you sleep better, or that will be self- cleaning.

Technology will keep on influencing also the way we buy and therefore making sure items are screen-friendly will become a priority. Colours that pop up on screens and that have a digital quality (like Aqua, the colour of the year 2020) will be winners.

Climate change and major events like COVID-19 will bring people to go for more protective gear, without wanting to give up style and comfort. The big change here will help to mark the end of the “more is better” era, bringing the market closer to a circular consciousness. Essentials and wardrobe favourites will be kept and become the core of our looks. The craftsmanship will be honoured and mending will overcome disposing. Quality will win over quantity. Minimalism will reign (high five, Marie Kondo!) and comfort-wear and lounge-wear will be the new tailoring. Sounds pretty much like fashion utopia but this is where the purchasing behaviour is aiming towards. Rejoice!

We are definitely assisting to a major mutation in the fashion industry and, on a larger level, society itself. Now, will we be smart enough to make the right choices from this mess or will we keep on backing the wrong horse?”

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Marco is the founder of The Fashion Sloth, a platform to discuss sustainable and circular fashion. Because, let's face it, the greener the hotter. With many years of experience in fast fashion in a few different countries (in both buying and image consulting), he has the whole styling thing all figured out (ish). He believes in what makes you look good despite of the trends (basically what highlights the "true you"), he considers circularity the only way through, he sees fashion as a form of art and not a weapon to destroy the planet. He also likes pineapple on pizza and believes (secretly) in unicorns but then again, whatever...