The Pandemic and the Fashion Industry
Covid-19 has permeated the fashion industry as it has everything else. It has pushed us into merging formal and informal clothing in a world that was rapidly gravitating toward virtual meetings and global trends.
We have seen many big stores and fashion labels go out of business. We have also witnessed many new businesses successfully rise from the chaos and confusion that being at home created. The brands that quickly adapted to the changing needs of an entire world working in home offices managed to stay afloat and many that refused to employ creative solutions did not survive the pandemic.
As a personal shopper, I have been looking at the world of fashion transform from the inside out. I have noticed how loungewear made with natural fibers has become more appealing than it was ever before. I had a hunch this was going to happen one day very soon, but I had no idea of the circumstances that would push everything into action at high velocity. The pandemic just accelerated the whole process.
In a way, it amazes me to see how we have all come together in this common experience in an otherwise hopeless situation. I see it in the clothes we wear and the accessories we choose to express our thoughts in a socially distanced way. Being in an unpredictable situation for a long time has pushed us to really deal with ourselves, understand ourselves, and perhaps make great efforts to like ourselves and those around us. As masks became mandatory, the companies that understood the need for people to express themselves chose to highlight the importance of communication through clothing.
Wearing masks has forced us to express ourselves through other items of clothing we wear.
In a way, it is a positive sign to want to look good AND feel good in the clothes we are wearing. The pandemic has taught us how to express ourselves comfortably and cherish the life we have through everything we experience. This is because our unpredictable circumstances are causing a lot of disease inside us – we need to balance it out and convince ourselves that it will all be okay. This is why the push to attend online meetings, meet potential life partners virtually, and find new hobbies stylishly yet authentically is heartwarming for me.
Now I will be talking about some of the fun aspects in which fashion has changed over the past year.
Most of our interactions are non-verbal (that is why I keep repeating the importance of first impressions). Therefore, when we FINALLY meet our long-lost friends at a distance of six feet, somewhere out under the open sky in the few sacred months of good weather, when lockdowns are momentarily lifted, it can be SO frustrating not to know what they are saying. We cannot see their faces and lip-read or hear the undertones of frustration or amazement at everything going on around us.
Clever design companies have come up with a very creative solution to this – they can literally print masks with anything you want to say so you can have fun inviting some form of control back into your life! I find that pretty amusing.
I love how celebrities have been matching their masks with their outfits and I guess that while it lasts, they figured that they’d rather have fun with it. I have seen people protest and raise their voices without saying a single word, all while showing solidarity for their cause with the masks they wear. It is incredible how this new trend (hopefully not a permanent one) has helped us find the power within ourselves while we are pushed to live in ways we would never have imagined before.
This is something that was already happening of course but at a much smaller scale. As we were made to stay at home more and more, we all resorted to buying every single thing online. This was long overdue. As an observer and a fashion insider, I knew this was going to happen; I just had no idea how quickly and how soon online shopping would take over the entire world.
Although online stores are a great way to answer concerns around physically going to stores or interacting with other human beings, they are not great if you want the in-person experience that going to your favorite store meant to you. You might not even be able to find the right fit online. As an image consultant, I can help you navigate these changing times.
I am concerned about the huge impacts of our online activity on the Earth itself. These will become even greater and more harmful to our health very shortly. Another consequence of everything being available online (although with lots of understandable shipping delays) is not as negative – we are all learning to shop for more and more sales and going for a good deal as soon as we spot one.
I am sure that by now you must have heard the word “athleisure”. This is a trend that resulted from wanting more physical exercise by millions of our fellow human beings as we were cooped up inside our nests for months on end. At some point during the last year, we have all felt the need to just be able to get up and go out in whatever we were wearing at home and feel the fresh air as we run away from our problems or those we must quarantine with.
Our dreams met reality in the form of athleisure clothing. This is something I regularly wear as a Zumba instructor. It helps me feel ready to take on the world! Some great new brands have soared their sales by introducing the best fits for people who would like to make the most of their lives and pretend they are free to do so even during the pandemic. I also appreciate the much-needed quality upgrades in popular brands that were already known for their athletic wear. I hope we all remain healthy and active once we have better things on our calendars. I am talking about activities such as dining inside restaurants or hugging our family members.
Discovering Our Personal Style
I recently had this epiphany; I have realized that the clothes I have been wearing most often at home during the pandemic, the ones I truly feel comfortable in, are those that I always naturally gravitated toward. Being by myself has enhanced my personal sense of style and made me feel good about what I choose to wear. As an image consultant, I have also noticed that other people around me are dressing differently as well – we have been having fun with the colors, patterns, and accessories that we might have wanted to wear earlier but never had the time or opportunity to experiment with.
I am glad to see people become more open to wearing a variety of different outfits that they really like. I think that is because we have had the freedom of wearing whatever makes us happy during the last year and that it is teaching us a lot about our own personal style. I always emphasize the importance of discovering our own personal style instead of going with what we think would look the best on us or things that look good on the celebrities we follow, and this last year has made others around me realize this as well. We look and feel our best when we know that our daily outfits best represent us.
As with other things the pandemic has taught us, it has shown us how choosing natural and breathable fibers are best for our wellbeing and our planet’s health. I usually ask my clients to stay away from synthetic materials and choose cotton and wool whenever possible. That is why I am glad that now we can choose to selectively wear better quality fabrics as we need to be less concerned about the number of clothes we have (due to fewer social gatherings).
Therefore, we can really take this time to upgrade our wardrobes with better quality materials (especially taking advantage of the numerous, mega-store-closing sales). Just try your best to pay attention to how your skin reacts to different materials and go for fabrics that let you breathe.
Nature Inspired Colours
Every season and every few years we all collectively embrace a new color. Paint companies and interior design magazines, fashion brands, and trendsetters come up with new and exciting colors that appeal to us. The pandemic has followed this trend as well.
During the pandemic, I have realized that most of us are drawn to nature-inspired colors. I have seen beiges, whites, and greens being used more recently. It makes so much sense – we feel the need to be outside and go on vacations. We like the light of the day, and we want life to be bright and hopeful again. We also need to feel peaceful in this chaos and less lonely while we stay at home.
Being able to bring the outside in and having bright yet calming visual cues around us is very appealing and helps restore a sense of balance in our otherwise disordered lives.
Cultural / Global Identity
Because now we can buy absolutely anything from anywhere, we are so much more aware of what people in other parts of the planet are wearing. I cannot wait to see how this consequence of the pandemic affects our personal clothing choices shortly. As we learn more about each other and appreciate the colors, symbols, and fabrics used to express our identities, we appreciate global trends a lot more and infuse them into our own ways of life.
This is a fun trend. Apart from just merging cultural identities, we are also welcoming unisex clothing and less strictly defined feminine or masculine styles to express ourselves. This was definitely already happening pre-pandemic, but as with the other style trends, the move toward raising children without imposing our own ideas of gender roles is also accelerated. Men and women are working, cooking, cleaning, spending more time together (whether they want to or not) at home – this means that women might prefer to wear their boyfriend’s comfortable shirt and go about their day.
Along with other changes in the way we dress and carry ourselves, I have noticed how most of us have globally embraced quality over quantity. As businesses struggle, they are grappling to attract customers by presenting better quality products. This goes hand in hand with many of us losing our jobs and incomes. We now want to buy less but higher-quality products that would last us a long time and will save us money in the future.
This trend is a welcomed one in the world of fashion. I see how my clients are appreciating the value of the products rather than only the price tags of their wardrobe staples.
As we prepare for the world to reopen, I hope we uniformly move forward in the team colors that represent our values and uphold the lessons we have learned in our personal and social lives. I will always be thrilled to see the reflection of our thoughts in the evolving world of fashion that we all create together.