Saying we are living through hard times is an understatement – and the fashion world, like every other business, is shifting and changing to weather the COVID-19 storm.
I’ve been having many conversations with industry types, wondering what fashion will look like on the other side of track pants. We have to assume that this season (autumn/winter in Australia) is going to be a disaster, watching the new designer collections appearing online at 30 per cent off, with further discounting or two-for-one deals following soon after.
In addition, the weather, in Sydney especially, has been relentlessly sunny and glorious, so investing in a cozy new sweater or chunky knit cardigan coat is out. If the people I saw on my walk from Bronte to Bondi were any indication, skin is in.
The promotional emails have been plugging ‘at home’ dressing or lounge wear, but what started out as relatively sensible and well-honed suggestions (such as linen drawstring pants and tank tops) are now just an amalgamation of anything the brand is desperate to sell, including overcoats and party dresses.
Shoe sales, apart from trainers, must have taken a pounding, as the idea of salon pedicures and high-heeled sandals becomes mere nostalgia.
Of course, fashion, as it always does, finds a way. There is now a mass commercialisation of face masks as a fashion statement, with brands like Off-White selling a branded face mask as a street style alternative, and off-duty models captured in their COVID-style outfits. One girl in a camouflage sweatshirt by Moschino, a khaki scarf/mask, cute little black sunglasses and a quilted black silk bomber jacket proved she was up to fashionably fighting the “invisible enemy”, the term that Trump is so fond of.
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Still, it does feel good to be reminded that “going out” clothes exist and that one day in the near future we will all be going out again to places other than Coles.
On a Kmart outing last week I decided to mix up my active wear with some pieces of real clothing, to relieve boredom more than anything else. I stayed in my black leggings, but swapped my T-shirt for a copper cotton knit sweater and put on leather ballet slippers instead of my Adidas. I felt like Cinderella off to the ball!
Fashion has always mirrored the times, and while what we wear in isolation is one part of the story, how we react when it is over is still to be seen.
Traditionally fashion and creativity has seen an upswing after periods of turbulence, like the appearance of flappers following World War I or the popularity of Christian Dior’s New Look after the austerity of World War II.
In the case of the latter, this was accompanied by a booming post war economy, which is not something on the current horizon. But there do seem to be pockets of optimism, seen in recent photos of Aussies getting dressed up to take out the rubbish bin.
The most enduring fashion trend of all is wearing what makes you happy.