Fashion is a reflection of society, drawing parallels to the way we lead our everyday lives. From London's subcultural punk fashion movement to politically infused statements highlighting social issues such as women empowerment and Black Lives Matter, fashion is more than simply clothes.
Since 202, the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the world brought forth inevitable conversations surrounding the way fashion is being consumed and helped accelerate as well as amplify trends that have been bubbling. And with lockdowns the norm in many countries around the world, just like other industries reevaluating the nature of their businesses, fashion too began to look inwards.
Loungewear became essential
Many of us found solitude during the lockdown period when work-from-home arrangements became the new normal. It didn't take long for loungewear to be incorporated into our everyday look as the need for formalwear took a backseat in a home setting. The fashion industry recognised the shift almost immediately and by spring/summer and pre-autumn 2021, brands such as CELINE, Gucci and Balenciaga looked towards maximising comfort and ease for their respective collections.
Sustainability-driven fashion was ramped up
The fashion industry is well aware that it's one of the leading causes of climate change and environmental destruction. Sustainability has thus been a topic of conversation even prior to the pandemic. Our time in relative solitude have made us more conscious of our propensity to over consume, giving rise to DIY upcycled pieces made from old throwaways.
There was a heightened emphasis in ensuring that fashion lessening negative environmental impacts through innovative technologies targeting environmental pollution as well as utilising deadstock fabric for new collections. Loewe's Eye/LOEWE/Nature autumn/winter 2020 collection, for example, featured old military garments that were upcycled into new pieces. Similarly, Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia worked on a spring/summer 2021 collection that had 93.5 percent of the materials used being either sustainable or were upcycled.
Traditional fashion systems have changed
Despite the chaos happening in the world at large, some fashion brands have managed to adapt to the new changing tides, breaking away from traditional fashion system constructs and carving their own individual paths. Fashion brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Jacquemus made the decision to break away from the fashion's traditional calendar and chose to showcase their new collections through other formats and whenever they saw fit.
Gucci was one of the first to do so. The Gucci Ouverture collection was creative director Alessandro Michele's break away from typical fashion calendar. And it allowed Gucci to make its own rules in navigating what and how collections moving forward will be shown.
A yearning for the outdoors
Escapism and the idea of venturing outdoors were the main points of reference for the past year. It's safe to assume that by the third month of being cooped up at home, a little fun in the sun or a dip in the pool would've done us some good. From Burberry's shark-fantasy outdoor-themed runway to Jacquemus's love letter to travel set in an open wheat field, fashion had taken what seemed like a pipe dream then and translated it into nostalgic visual narratives. Through the adversities and trying times, fashion continued to maintain its position as a source of hope and inspiration.
Fashion presentations became experimental
When the pandemic struck, it was evident that the first thing to go had to be physical fashion shows. And since then, fashion brands began pivoting towards more innovative methodologies to showcase their collections with little to no physical interactions. From rendering an entire virtual reality world and animating real models into it to fitting an entire fashion show into a packaged box, brands managed to explore uncharted territories in an effort to engage and capture each collection's thematic narratives.