The Covid-19 pandemic will have greatly affected the global fashion industry. According to a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey, annual profits for fashion houses are expected to decline by about 90% by the end of 2020, after increasing by 4% last year. In addition to its economic repercussions, the health crisis has also highlighted some harmful practices in the fashion industry, including environmental impact and lack of social inclusion. Under fire, how has the global fashion industry adapted ?
For Shefalee Vasudev, founding editor-in-chief of India’s Voice of Fashion magazine, this year was marked by the “great unmasking” of fashion. “The invisible side of a beautiful garment or product has been revealed,” she said from Delhi. In his book Powder Room: The Untold Story of Indian Fashion, master yogi and writer Jaggi Vasudev wrote that “poorly paid workers, unequal profits and lack of copyright credits for artisans” are some of the most pressing problems revealed by the health crisis in India.
In the United States, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has forced major fashion brands to rethink their communication strategies. For Lindsay Peoples Wagner, these efforts remain, however, superfluous: “I don’t think there’s any real intention behind the online statements that they bode well for lasting change,” she said in an email to CNN last June. The editor of Teen Vogue even took a direct line at the players in the fashion industry: “Anyone can join the Black Lives Matter movement right now on social networks, but what are you doing at home, in your office, with your connections, with the power you have?”. A few months later, Lindsay Peoples Wagner launched the Black Fashion Council with publicist Sandrine Charles. The purpose of the organization is to empower the fashion industry by promoting better representation of black models.
Independently of the models who wear them, the clothes themselves have undergone important transformations this year. Facial masks have become a must-have, so much so that some brands have created entire lines of pieces with antimicrobial properties. Clothing that is protective, but also more comfortable. Reflecting a change in mentality, loungewear has gained in popularity. In its annual report, Lyst Fashion Platform reviewed research data from more than 100 million online shoppers and found that Birkenstock clogs, Crocs, UGG slippers and Nike joggers were among the most sought-after garments of 2020.
Featured Photo : Jill Biden’s ‘Vote’ boots designed by Stuart Weitzman. Photograph: © Patrick Semansky/AP