Fashion in a time of Pandemic

The Autumn/Winter2020 round of Fashion Weeks was business as usual. But then, abruptly, the world of fashion was thrown off its axis. The COVID-19 pandemic changed every sphere of life, including the fashion industry.

Most countries instituted some form of lockdown while social distancing became the norm. Fashion stores, being non-essential businesses, temporarily closed. Governments have encouraged citizens to stay inside and work from home, so there is not much need for new clothes anyway. The exception is “comfort wear”. Track suits, pyjamas, and also athleisure garments are selling fairly well online.

Many people have lost part or all of their incomes, and when you wonder where your next meal will come from, fashion shopping is not a pressing need. It will take a while, post-lockdown, for the industry to recover.

The forced downtime has given fashion practitioners the opportunity to think about their business model, and hit re-set, as it were. It will be exciting to see what changes this brings.

Carine Roitfeld

Ever the forward thinker, fashion editor Carine Roitfeld came up with a substitute for crowded runway events. She staged the annual amfAR gala as a virtual fashion show, persuading notable models from around the globe to film themselves in their own homes. The resulting footage was edited and broadcast on May 1st, 2020.

Supermodel Natasha Poly strutting her stuff from home for amfAR

Speaking to GSTN Europe, fashion writer Dana Thomas suggests that a greener fashion industry could emerge. Lockdowns brought our horizons closer; consumers may now favour local products over the global. Suddenly we are unable to fly everywhere at the drop of a hat, reducing air miles. Thomas also foresees more, smaller businesses replacing the big chains in the high streets.

Perhaps we return to more intimate shopping experiences again, after decades of impersonal commerce. Just maybe, a better, more concerned fashion business arises from this pandemic.