2020 has been a tough year for fashion.
Given we were all in lockdown for varying lengths of time, the mass migration to comfy leisurewear was inevitable, and once you have been very comfortable 24/7, it’s a feeling that’s hard to give up.
Fashion was heading down the athleisure route anyway, and COVID just kicked it into the next level.
The big trends of 2020 have all been about ease and practicality: the cotton house dress you could sleep in, matching tracksuits, cashmere bras and cardigans, shearling lined Birkenstocks. It was a nice respite, to be honest.
Fashion can be energizing and exciting, the thrill of a sparkly new evening dress, or new pair of killer stilettos, a bejewelled evening bag. But clothing also needs be soothing and nurturing, providing a protective element in a fractured and unstable world.
The cosy, comfy mood that is informing both homewares and fashion makes sense in these harsh times, offering us something more authentic and gentle.
This year has been unnerving, and many of us are reassessing what we spend our money on, what we really need and what we don’t.
The fashion world was already on a dangerous trajectory of waste and excess, and for reasons of climate change alone we have to collectively push back against the tyrannical cycle of fast fashion.
Most fashion designers are now reading from the same prayer book when they talk about embracing sustainability, traceability, recycling, less production etc, and these ethical considerations have become an important deciding factor for consumers.
But there is another very critical issue that can undo all the good intentions and that is the ceaseless promotion of everything, by everybody.
Everybody is an influencer, everybody has something to sell, whether it’s a bikini to your 3.7 million followers or your new table setting to 20.
I used to run a fashion magazine, where we told you 12 times a year that you need to refresh your wardrobe and that was probably about 11 times too many.
But now it is daily, hourly, minute by minute bombardment via social media, from not only brands but also any random person, aka ‘influencer’, who managed to get a freebie.
This is the elephant in the room.
Those of us who are concerned global citizens, wrestling with our ingrained materialism and trying to consume less, are also under assault, individually targeted by brands using increasingly clever algorithms which make you want things you had no idea existed when you got up this morning, and definitely don’t need.
You can profess be as sustainable as you like, but if you send out an email every single day to push the 12,000 fashion items on your website, you are huge part of the problem.
It’s a constant sales pitch and it can be hard to resist, despite all your good intentions. It is so odd to think that influencers become ‘celebrities’ for the skill of selling stuff alone, invited to all the cool parties. It’s like awarding TIME’s Person of the Year to the head of Ogilvy.