A year of crisis is when you look back on the year in fashion. As the scale and severity of the coronavirus epidemic became apparent, businesses all over the globe faced unprecedented challenges. This was the worst global public health crisis for generations. Fashion was not spared.
It became very difficult to make clothes, so many of us were forced to stay home due to job insecurity or health concerns. We also lost the desire for purchasing clothes.
Business of Fashion recently reported
McKinsey Consulting and The Business of Fashion recently reported that fashion sales in China declined significantly in the first quarter of this year while they rose in Europe and the US in March. Following a 4% increase in profits the year prior, the same report predicts that fashion companies’ year on year profits will drop by around 90 percent.
The pandemic was not the only problem facing the industry. The fashion industry was already confronting uncomfortable truths about its practices and impact, from poor working conditions for garment workers and its role in climate crisis, to its failures to create inclusive and diverse workplaces.
Fashion had to suddenly find its place in an uneasy world that was unable to accept the fantasy, frivolity, and indulgence on which it had long relied.
Shefalee Vaishdev, founder editor of India’s Voice of Fashion magazine has called this year “the great unmasking of fashion.” She wrote via email from Delhi, “The unseen side of what you bring home as a beautiful garment/product was revealed.” “Migrants returning to their villages in the evening, disowned by their employers and the cities, was one of the most striking images from India.
The Untold Story Of Indian Fashion
Vasudev, author of “Powder Room” (The Untold Story Of Indian Fashion), pointed out that “poorly compensated laborers, unequal profits, and (lack) copyright credits for artisans” were some of the most pressing issues exposed by the pandemic. The issue of systemic racism was brought back to the forefront of industry discussions in the United States and other countries. Brands struggled to figure out how to respond. Many brands made mistakes and were quickly criticized for their token gestures. Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue editor in chief, wrote in an email to CNN that she didn’t believe there was any intention behind the online gestures to create long-lasting and sustainable change. “Everyone can join the BLM movement on social media right now, but what’s the point of being in your own home, at work, and with your connections with the power that you have?
Wagner, along with Sandrine Charles, launched the Black in Fashion Council a few months later to increase representation, promote opportunities for Black people in fashion, and hold the industry responsible.
Fashion industry claims it is against racism. Critics don’t buy it
Omoyemi Akerele (founder of Lagos Fashion Week), wrote this from Nigeria, which has also experienced its own set a crises. He said that along with the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest in African countries, the “pandemic of racism” have been human disasters of epic proportions, with many lives lost. This reminds us of the one thing that binds all of us: our humanity.
It may seem absurd to talk about fashion trends after a year of crisis, but these themes offer a glimpse into extraordinary times.