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The Tale of Clothes During Pandemics

The proverb – ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ – actually makes its truest sense now in these difficult and hard times. It is important to look back in order to move forward during these crises

There was a time when facial masks were a runway favourite. They appeared in all shapes and forms, from air filtering to the artisanal masquerade ones, highlighting mysterious and intriguing avant-garde styles. From Alessandro Michele’s Gucci F/W’19 fetish spikes on a mask juxtaposing the delicate floral embroidery of the dress to Marine Serre showing how to make fashion through her apocalyptic masks of F/W’19 – mask moments were everywhere.

Marine Serre masks

These days, the masks are with every person. It has become a signature tool to signify the world around us. With masks being a trendsetter in 2019, only if we had read between the lines what fashion brands were trying to convey with their fortune-telling designs.

The novel Covid-19 pandemic would be one of the most sudden, anxious and difficult times anyone had to encounter. But big shifts are always marked by such events. Designers like Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela and today’s Marine Serre are known to have found inspiration in the darkest times and emerge with exceptional design languages. Fashion is a medium of expression and McQueen justified it by exploring creative themes like life and death, man and machine. His runways were equipped with armours for survival – models in jet black feathers, plaster body cast, aluminium plates linked by chains and crystals that threw light to thought-provoking conversations. The biggest paradigm shifts have historically come from major events such as wars and diseases, making people think of creative and out of the box alternatives.

Alexander McQueen

At an uncertain time like this,  while we are not fighting at the front lines, the global lockdown and work from home philosophy might change the clothing reality and reasons to ‘dress up’. Well, it is quite astonishing how a virus may also leave its mark on the upcoming trends. Spring Summer 2021 might be the gateway of disruptive styles. Such events always leave their impact through changes in supply chains, social behaviour, and daily lifestyles. Following the French Revolution, women avoided symbols of aristocracy. Pants became more regular among women after World War II, hurrying them into the workforce. Owing to this scenario, it was designer Christian Dior who changed the outlook of women’s pants, making them feminine and elegant.

The Future of Fashion

Hopefully, this pandemic might be short-lived, but there would be subtle changes in styles and wearability. The homely environment may make us choose comfortability over ‘being extra.’ Yoga pants and hoodies, oversized and relaxed garments may become our priority and athleisure might continue to reign king. Once this situation clears, it will be overwhelming to see the streets flocked by casual clothing lovers who had made ‘relaxed fashion’ as their mantra. On the other hand, tree-lined avenues might see a higher percentage of those beaming with a renewed joy for dressing up. However, the middle space between them would be occupied by some silk pajama sets or nightgowns, or slinky robes, which have that same luxe-yet-comfy balance that is already a street staple.

Gucci masks

Trends change with the blink of an eye and in this digital era, fashion moves at lightning speed. Talking about digital standpoints, brands have been communicating and selling entirely online. Digital and social media has been put into correct flex with the COVID-19 virus dictating business scenarios. Luxury houses such as Armani went forward with cancelling their physical fashion show in Milan Fashion Week A/W’20  to hold them live online without an audience. In India, Shantanu & Nikhil digitally debuted their ready-to-wear sub-brand which was to be originally unveiled at Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week. The Fashion Design Council of India has also taken the lead to set up a COVID-19 Support Fund (CSF by FDCI) to help financially. The connectivity created by internet is keeping fashion on its toes and helping businesses move quickly, definitely, with unique concepts, as the crisis lingers longer than expected.

S&N by Shantanu & Nikhil

The Business of Fashion Post COVID-19

While there are good reports showcasing that the Earth is finally healing, the shutting down is definitely giving all of us time to reflect. We will eventually be left with a blank page for sweeter beginnings, accompanied with the price of a stern impact on the economy. Brands are forced to slow down and luxury houses have turned their productions to making medical gowns, masks and sanitisers. Is it the new trajectory of connectivity and empathy? Maybe, its finally a whiff of finding and designing clothes that connect with the needs of society and environment and work with them, not against them. Although fashion was moving from the rich aristocratic maximalism to minimalism – trends were still short-lived and numerous runway seasons were on the peak. It was long ago that fashion needed to slow down, rethink and acknowledge that increasing production and purchasing will never sustain.

Sustainable fashion

There are so many possible patterns coming out of this, but through strength and unity, this too shall surpass and the rediscovered connection might be for our better days!