Fashion in The Face of Pandemic: What does this mean for the future of fashion?

Open­ing image from OVERDUE Issue #001 by Andrew Kim­ber
Words Alex Mox­ham @Next Mod­el Man­age­ment

As we all sit in our homes, twid­dling our thumbs and drink­ing end­less cups of tea (noth­ing a good cup­pa can’t help with), the out­side world seems to have come to a halt. Assum­ing this isn’t the end of the world and we aren’t in a real-life sim­u­la­tion of the film ‘Con­ta­gion’, it ren­ders the ques­tion – what is to become of fash­ion once this all blows over?

As the idea of going out to your local for a cou­ple on a Fri­day night becomes a thing of the past, or even to a club if that might be your thing, I won­der what might hap­pen to the world of fast fash­ion? Gone are the days of buy­ing an out­fit for the week­end – we’re all stay­ing in. Nobody would wear a dress and heels just to go and sit in the liv­ing room, would they? And what of dates? As we come to terms with the fact that we may not be able to see a poten­tial love inter­est for the fore­see­able future we grap­ple the idea of the vir­tu­al date. Open­ing a Face­time call to your date sit­ting there in shirt and bowtie might just be an occur­rence all too famil­iar.

Now, let’s take this a lit­tle high­er up the fash­ion food chain. The fash­ion industry’s most respect­ed design­ers have always had some­thing to say about the state of affairs of the world. Just take a look at Katharine Ham­nett or Maria Grazia’s ‘I’m a fem­i­nist’ t‑shirts and we can see that clear­ly. As this pan­dem­ic broke, just short­ly after shows in Milan, peo­ple that worked them were quar­an­tined for two weeks after. I can’t see this pass­ing with­out a state­ment on future run­ways. I can see it now — in Sep­tem­ber the Guc­ci show will be Alessan­dro Michele send­ing mod­els march­ing to the sound of the drum whilst wear­ing embell­ished face masks and dis­pos­able gloves. All at the rec­om­mend­ed two-meter dis­tance apart, of course.

This then brings my thought to make­up artists, hair styl­ists, styl­ists, pho­tog­ra­phers, mod­els (like myself) the list goes on… after a glob­al pan­dem­ic we have been made all too aware that our jobs are seen as ‘unnec­es­sary’. We are also very aware that our jobs can not be done remote­ly via zoom or skype or one of these vir­tu­al plat­forms that seems to have appeared just in the nick of time. I’m not sure where this leaves us. It has become stark­ly evi­dent how close to one anoth­er we have to be to get the job done. Being back­stage at a show dur­ing fash­ion week is uncom­fort­able enough as it is – girls get­ting changed and arms flail­ing every­where, con­stant make­up touch ups (often with the same lip brush being used on mul­ti­ple girls), just peo­ple every­where. Sure­ly this kind of set up and behav­iour won’t be over­looked any longer.

Fash­ion can be seen,for most, as a form of exhi­bi­tion­ism. I myself find myself dress­ing to the char­ac­ter that I feel I am that day. Just as this all was begin­ning, I found myself stomp­ing to work wear­ing Doc Martens, tweed trousers and a Har­ring­ton jack­et, scream­ing anar­chy and punk from the inside out – my form of say­ing I’m not quite hap­py with what’s going on at the moment. I hope that whilst being in quar­an­tine and not being able to dress to impress oth­ers, this time might remind us to dress for our­selves. Fash­ion can be the most lib­er­at­ing for of expres­sion. What we choose to wear can com­plete­ly dic­tate and illus­trate how we feel, whether that be fierce one day or more reserved the next. How excit­ing that we get to make it all about our­selves once again!

One thing that this virus has man­aged to do is give us a real­i­ty check. Whilst we may be spend­ing more hours scrolling through Insta­gram — because real­ly — what else is there to do — it has com­plete­ly erad­i­cat­ed the feel­ing of FOMO (fear of miss­ing out). And the jeal­ousy one might have once felt to some Insta­gram mod­el has been com­plete­ly erad­i­cat­ed because let’s face it, we’re all on the same lev­el now. We are all human. The idea of Insta­gram play­ing a major role in the fash­ion indus­try is very real and has been for a while now, but with the idea of the Insta­gram girl now essen­tial­ly demol­ished — she’s no bet­ter than you or I. On the oth­er hand, my agency has asked me to send in pho­tos of how I could poten­tial­ly set up shoots from my own home. Online fash­ion com­pa­nies have start­ed to send ‘influ­encers’ pack­ages of clothes to shoot from their hous­es in ‘ecom style’. This real­ly could go one way or the oth­er. Will the aver­age girl become invest­ed or dis­il­lu­sioned by the ins­ta-girl?

Nobody can real­ly tell the effect this virus will have on this indus­try, or each one of our lives, but what we do know is that art still lives on and will do for­ev­er. Some of the great­est art in the world has been cre­at­ed in the face of adver­si­ty, take Picasso’s Guer­ni­ca for instance, and I can’t see this being any dif­fer­ent. Whilst our lives have become stripped back, I hope this cre­ates space for design­ers to reimag­ine and rein­vent in sea­sons to come.

So, lets all stay home, but let’s serve some looks whilst doing it.

OVERDUE had the plea­sure of shoot­ing with Alex for our debut issue.
Check out our dig­i­tal issue, which is now free to down­load, here.