By Lauren Edwards
What will the future look like for fashion? In our post lockdown world, will we wear a version of loungewear to the office? Will we start wearing a jumper/PPE combo for nights out, a kind of a polo neck with an integrated face mask? Could we see the production of wipe clean materials for our garments so that we can have a quick wash down in the pub toilet? Or are we going to be desperate to shed our elasticated waisted trousers and onesies and replace them with bodycon and heels?
By becoming a nation of enforced hermits, I for one have spent far less on clothes and shoes in the last year and have only splurged online to purchase activewear and pyjamas. Many of us have used this time to clear out our wardrobes and, following the first lockdown, charity shops saw a tsunami of donations landing on their doorsteps. Leaving the final lockdown (hopefully) could see an opportunity for less fast fashion and more consumers opting for good quality secondhand clothing.
I love a good mooch through a charity shop and I will happily spend an hour or two trawling through Ebay and adding items to my watch list. However, can we rely on Generation Z shoppers to buy upcycled clothing? They are more passionate about saving the planet, they’re not afraid to speak up with their views on BAME or LGBTQ rights, so why should they be embarrassed about being spotted rifling through a clothing rack in Oxfam? It is estimated that a third of 16-24 year olds in the UK are now scouring through the online marketplace at Depop. On their website, Depop state that ‘We are living in a climate emergency. And the reality is that the time we have to make a difference is less than 10 years. This year, we launched a two-year plan detailing the actions Depop will take as a company to address our own impact.’
Elizabeth Poulin, supplier to the High Street, says: “We have seen a huge demand for eco recycled and organic materials. Consumers want vegan sourced products, shoes made from mushroom leather and they want to be planet conscious. However, we in the fashion industry are having a hard time supplying these innovative products as our manufacturers have not had the chance to catch up with the consumer/buyer demand. It is insane how fashion has evolved over the last six months and this could be indicative of a more sustainable future.”
The fashion industry is known to have a major detrimental impact on the environment and, if we can learn anything from our time spent relying on less, should we really return to throwaway clothing? As a child I remember taking our shoes to the cobblers to preserve the soles or to fix a heel. I recall feeling elated after having metal scuff heels added to my school shoes whilst at primary school as I was then able to tap dance around the playground. My brother and I received ‘hand me down’s’ from our older cousins and many a Saturday my Mum and I would rummage through a jumble sale at our local church hall where my Mum would find some amazing outfits.
After I saw a recent photograph in a fashion magazine of Victoria Beckham dressed head to toe in bright red, like a chic version of Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale, it appears that bright colours are coming our way this spring. Fashion experts have suggested that we will be embracing bold and bright colours post lockdown, in an array of fabrics and textures. We will be wearing poetry blouses, oversized jeans and statement coats in bright yellows, oranges and hot pinks.
We can only wait and see how life will unfold this year. We hope that soon we will be able to meet up again with loved ones over a pub lunch, to visit the hairdresser, go to the cinema and return to some kind of normal life. I have worked part time in an office throughout lockdown so have been able to dress up for a few days a week. However, outside of this time, like many others, I have embraced the four-fold lockdown wardrobe of pyjamas, dressing gown, activewear and joggers. I think this could be an opportunity to reinvent our look, to shop in our own wardrobes and to make do, mend and wear preloved clothing a bit more.