The emergence of coronavirus, and subsequent lockdown has had a huge impact on the fashion industry. Retailers shuttered their doors, production slowed to a trickle and demand for clothes – bar cosy sweatshirts and joggers – plummeted. With 80% of clothing and accessories transactions being physical, and shops relying on dramatic storefronts and comfortable changing spaces to promote clothes, surviving the situation has required creativity and innovation.
However, many designers and retailers have seen it as an opportunity to reset and recalibrate the structure of the industry. "I feel very strongly that when we come out at the other end, people's values are really going to have shifted," Vogue editor Dame Anna Wintour said in early October, "I think it's an opportunity for all of us to look at our industry and to look at our lives, and to rethink our values, and to really think about the waste, and the amount of money, and consumption, and excess that we have all indulged in and how we really need to rethink what this industry stands for.”
We’ve seen repeated calls from designers, retailers and buyers for a renewed focus, to produce and consume much less, and to be more mindful in our consumption, while investing in recycling and up-cycling.
This September’s London Fashion Week was radically, refreshingly different; a result, perhaps, of designers having some time out to reflect, think laterally and get creative. We saw a lack of prescriptive trends and one-season wonders, and more designers creating season-free fashion that will last years. Victoria Beckham’s collection was heavily influenced by the enforced break; a pared-down, focussed show of slouchy, 70s-influenced silhouettes. She, however, had a hilariously and typically tart take on lockdown looks, saying, wryly “I was not doing an elasticated waist and leggings.”
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, on the other hand, focussed on sustainability, using 50 per cent recycled fabrics. They also turned home-schooling into home-designing, as the couple’s children created earrings from smashed china, draped a smock top, and experimented with dyes made from beetroots. Some of their creations even ended up in the final show! Turning a difficult situation into an opportunity to innovate and be resourceful shows the strength and shrewdness of the design industry, giving us hope for an even brighter fashion future.
Many of our designers have overcome similar challenges brilliantly this year, and we thought you might like to have a peep behind the locked studio doors to see how the global pandemic has affected and changed them, their processes and their focus. The series is called Lockdown Life. First up, Quazi.