Introduction: We have all been infected
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that this pandemic has certainly had an impact on the world that can’t be ignored. The age of Covid-19 has been the biggest cause for change seen on this planet yet and it can be seen very clearly whether you’re looking through your car window, while driving out on the streets or if you’re just staring at the wall in your bedroom. A lot of us are scared, anxious and want better for the future. Well, to have hope is to want for something better to come along and the only way to achieve that is by letting the present feelings we’re having in these moments guide us and for us to follow them into making a better world. Our minds and hearts are opening to show us a whole new world where change is necessary, especially in FASHION!!! We need to reconsider the past, live in the present and fight for a better future.
Before Covid-19, if we wanted something, we would ask for it, we would go somewhere, and we would get it. Just like that, it felt like time was moving at a remarkably fast pace, and among the participants in the worlds’ daily racing clock; was fast fashion!!! And its’ got some real speed, placing it in 2nd even for the worlds’ biggest polluter. You could definitely say that fashion is taking a much needed vacation from the pressure of what it actually was before things took a huge turn for the worst. And that is a mad repetitive cycle of brainstorming and productivity to satisfy the hunger of their consumers. That whole routine has needed a major reassessment for a long time now because it has been years and years of the same old practices where there has been a real injustice towards the soldiers of the workplace because of lack of fairness. It’s just awful to believe that an industry that can produce such beautiful garments for the public also comes at the cost of basic human decency, and one of the many reasons why there’s a silver lining in this whole dilemma because now change isn’t a given anymore; it’s already happening!!! It’s time to start thinking more and more about the people.
Remember a time when you wanted to buy a piece of clothing so badly, but it was a more of a want than a need? Well now, it’s more about the need because of Covid-19. Wanting something is and was never as important as actually needing something and that needs to be what everyone should be mindfully practicing nowadays.
Now that the old ways of how the industry used to work have officially been put on hold because of this pandemic; it has given many fashion labels and houses the opportunity to shift to a whole new mission that tackles the need to help everyone around the world who is suffering from this virus. Whether it’s helping with financial stress or assisting with securing their health and wellbeing; the fashion industry has got you covered.
It’s not about what people want anymore because they want it, it’s about what they want because they need it. And what everyone needs right now is practicality, which is why many fashion businesses around the globe have stepped up to use their resources to donate and help support relief efforts and create masks, medical suits, medical srubs, hospital robes, hospital sheets……etc. All for the purpose of satisfying the more basic needs of concerned citizens as well as serving the many heroes from various hospitals around the globe who are working tirelessly on the front lines of this whole pandemic to take care of infected patients. Christian Sirianos’ team is helping to provide masks as well as opening a donation platform on their website and Ralph Lauren will also be producing masks and hospital gowns with an addition of generously donating 10 million dollars to funds and charities to fight Covid-19. And as for Lebanon specifically, Tony Ward was actually the first brand to take initiative by providing hospital sheets and then following in these efforts was Nemer Saade who also made donations by providing medical suits. These are all prime examples of many brands worldwide who have taken a very humanitarian initiative in the wake of such a terrible crisis.
In these difficult times, many Arab brands who are struggling because of the pause put on their businesses have been getting support from Fashion Trust Arabia in the MENA region who have started the #StandWithCreatives campaign to fund and also to give positive publicity to all the brands in the Arab world by asking many followers of all these brands to post photos on social media wearing the designers’ work. This is necessary now more than ever to keep showing support because at the end of the day, everybody is going to be affected in some way during and after the pandemic and everybody needs all the help they can get to stay afloat.
Let’s face it, nobody really knows what’s going to happen in the midst of this whole health crisis. There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty that is roaming through our minds and that’s because the world is changing, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because what many don’t know is that we’re living in a present state of mind, but our minds have a power that is underestimated. If we really think about it and stopped focusing on so much on what we can’t do, we can all use the power of our creativity to imagine the New World that we’re going into. A world that has one common goal and that is to think of the people. The fashion industry is currently adopting that more forward way of thinking by considering not what its’ customers need right now, but what they will need during and after the pandemic as well. Here’s how that goal can be achieved:
Nothing is ever going to be the same in fashion again. Seeing how modern technology has been so sufficient and crucial during these times because it gives everyone some sense of comfort to know that their lives don’t have to necessarily stop, but can continue in a more safe and practical way. And that needs to continue, especially in fashion. One factor to consider is that fashion brands are going to rely more on a digital platform to stay in communication with their customers. One example is the wonders of virtual reality. Back in 2017, IKEA introduced a real game changer into the world. The idea that their products could be viewed in your own living space just as a simple free test drive, which can automatically save you a lot of time. And this innovation is definitely something we can see being applied to the world of fashion. Sitting in the comfort of your own home and still being able to search for a whole new wardrobe by just a few taps of a button on your screen and an image of your figure. It’s like playing barbie with your dolls, only digitally and the barbie is you!! It’s remarkable!! It’s everything you could ever want and more, especially with Covid-19 being out there.
Another way technology is going to take a huge role in the future of fashion is through live-streaming, which has already been going on for some time now, but regardless is needed to be used now more than ever. Collections can be viewed through your own screen and it might not be as exciting as travelling to witness a fashion show in a public event, but right now that’s the last thing anyone wants or can do. Everybody is prioritizing their safety above anything else and modern technology is one of the best ways to attain just that.
2) Slower and Safer Fashion:
If a lot of people haven’t had these revelations already, it’s highly probable everyone is going to be thinking the same thing. Fashion has died, but it’s going to be reborn. It has to!! Because the bottom line is, nobody is going to be looking at the old fashion the way they used to because that fashion isn’t what is going to protect us from this pandemic. Nobody is going to be looking at a silhouette of a dress or how cute the buttons are on a coat anymore. The world deserves more than that now and that’s why the future of fashion needs to include a designer looking at a blank space and the first thing that they need to think about when starting the design process is ‘’How is this going to help people?”. From the beginning to the middle, to the very end, that should be the main objective. This new fashion can range from a higher shirt collar that can guard your face from an infection to a pattern for a sleeve that includes a glove for your hands in case you were ever to come in contact with the virus in your surroundings. And we might see that very stylish armor a lot sooner than we might think. In fact, Lebanese Haute Couture brand Tony Ward has started a competition calling upon young talent to re-invent fashion after Corona, and it’s not strictly narrowed down to just wanting them to create some practical fashion gear. This Haute Couture brand is very excited about what the young talented minds of today have to offer and what this whole pandemic will bring out of them. It could be in the form of a painting, illustration, animation, gif…. etc. Tony Ward wants to encourage these applicants to go above and beyond with their imagination and not hold back from sharing their new vision for the new world of fashion.
It’s not just about the types of garments produced, it’s also about reducing production. Let’s say that at some point, fashion shows were able to start up again. The details are a little blurry as to how or when that could happen, but one thing for certain is that everything is going to be narrowed down to what’s actually important. Covid-19 has stopped many businesses worldwide from functioning at their usual pace and the fashion industry is no exception, which as you can pretty much predict, isn’t going to allow these brands to operate the way they used to and that includes how many fashion shows they’re going to be able to have. What should be considered, if some brands choose to have fashion shows; apart from the option of how to present it through live-streaming as mentioned before, is the fact that due to the lack of finances from the lack of being able to actually make any profit; these brands are going to have to take a major step back from doing a show every season. The idea of a brand having a show every season was nice before the world literally turned upside down. Fashion weeks were the talk of the whole globe and they would always get a lot of people excited to get dressed up and sit among many others in a crowded room who also appreciated the art and witnessing what was going to be in the stores of their favorite brand a few months afterwards. But no brand is going to make it their mission anymore to keep the same cycle going because like all of us, they’re just as aware of what’s happening. A more practical approach isn’t so stretched out from the realm of possibility and that would be a multi-season collection. A collection that mixes every season with fabrics and products corresponding to all of them at once. It saves a lot of time, energy and most importantly, money. Smarter decisions like these need to be made, which brings us back to something that was mentioned a few sentences before. Ironically, while the future is leaning more towards slow fashion, the products need to start being available on the market as soon as possible instead of having to keep the public waiting for months. Here’s what marketing expert, Youmna Assouad had to say on this matter: ‘’The fashion industry needed a change. For example, for the ready-to-wear fashion weeks, it has been since the 60’s that brands are presenting seasonal collections 6 months before they hit the stores. It made a lot of sense before because they needed time for production and to communicate the collections on magazines. Now, with all the live coverage that is happening, the digital events and online presentations... 6 months afterwards, when the collections hit the stores, it already seems like an old collection. With fast fashion brands being able to copy the garments in 2 weeks, the collection is already all over the market before it hits the store of the designer!”. There is no time anymore to keep submitting to how everything used to be because should designers start their businesses back up again, it’s all going to be about providing practical fashion to customers as soon as possible. It’s all going to be about survival and safety from both the consumers’ side and the producers’ side. And from the producers’ side, it’s coming from a business perspective as much as a humanitarian perspective.
Back in October, the economic crisis in Lebanon was yet another new reason introduced for sustainability to be a global necessity for many fashion brands to adopt as a way to function and produce. Now, with the Corona virus being a new force at play in a change to Lebanese society and the rest of the world of course; sustainability is very likely to be implemented in designers’ minds more than ever now. The fashion industry has needed a change for a very long time and sustainability was always going to be a key factor in making that change happen. However, because of fast fashion, the idea of going into more of an ethical route was the farthest thing from many designers’ minds. This pandemic just pushes the idea more as one of the few possibilities left to keep them in business and at the same time, they get to be part of an ongoing initiative called ‘’Saving the Planet’’. Ever heard of it? Of course you have, but it’s been ignored by millions of people; including fashion brands worldwide who just couldn’t escape fast fashion and couldn’t hit the brakes for a bit to consider what that was doing to the environment. Well now, because of obvious production costs that will be occurring because of the virus; this is an important time now more than ever for the fashion industry to strongly take an ethical approach in their design process because it keeps their businesses running and as a bonus, it doesn’t hurt our planet.
In conclusion, fashion has been put on pause, but it is going to resume; just not where it left off. It’s going to take a lot of thought and fresh visionary thinking to cope with the hardships that this new world will have for the industry. And it’s about time the industry starts from scratch with a whole new attitude that thinks less about what fashion was, but what fashion could be; and what it could be for the benefit of others.